Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro is perhaps most well known for founding The Daily Wire, home of numerous misleading and unverified stories, and for regularly voicing his unqualified, unsolicited opinions on everything from abortion to Muslims to Covid-19.
Shapiro most recently lent his voice to a conversation about authoritarianism. There was one major problem, however. Appearing with him to discuss the topic on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher was Malcolm Nance, one of the most highly regarded counterterrorism experts in the United States.
It all started when host Bill Maher turned the conversation to Shapiro's new book, The Authoritarian Moment: How the Left Weaponized America's Institutions Against Dissent, published in July 2021. In his book, Shapiro argues that "the authoritarian left... is ascendant in nearly every area of American life."
You can watch what transpired in the video below.
Nance was critical of Shapiro's thesis, saying that the misleading title effectively dupes people into paying the full retail price:
"It's a nice title for his book and I think a lot of people who think he's talking about real authoritarianism could be trapped into giving you $28.99."
But he didn't stop there. Nance went on to highlight the actions of former President Donald Trump, whom Shapiro has largely supported despite Trump's regular and insistent attacks on democracy:
"But let's talk about bare facts. You're talking about a guy, Donald Trump, who literally tried to suborn – or has probably suborned perjury – in order to overthrow a duly elected government, and managed to mobilise 40,000 people to lay siege to the Capitol, and over 1,000 or more entered the building, destroyed parts of the building, fought physically [with] law enforcement there, in order to stop American democracy.
"Now, I don't know about you, but I've been around a little bit, and I've seen some dictators and warlords and authoritarians. That is authoritarianism.
Nance was praised for speaking so bluntly.
It seems Nance expected Shapiro would be out of his depth. Ahead of the broadcast, Nance criticized Shapiro, noting that unlike Shapiro, he is "a staunch opponent of Fascists & Authoritarians":
While Shapiro has criticized former President Trump for pushing the "Big Lie" that he won the 2020 election as a result of voter fraud and irregularities, he has continued to suggest that President Joe Biden leads "the most radical administration in modern American history." These are probably not words you should take to heart when he was sitting next to a literal counterterrorism expert.
Better luck next time, Mr. Shapiro.