Tensions rose quickly during a BBC interview on Friday with conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, who cut the appearance short after accusing the network of being biased against conservatives.
Shapiro went on the defensive early in the 16-minute interview, when journalist Andrew Neil asked Shapiro to explain his staunch views on abortion, wanting his thoughts on whether the “extreme hard policies” he’s in favor of “takes us back to the Dark Ages.”
“Are you an objective journalist or are you an opinion journalist?” Shapiro asked. “You’re a supposedly an objective journalist calling policies with which you disagree barbaric and suggesting only one side of the of the political aisle has ideas. I want to point out that I wish you would be honest in your own biases.”
This went back and forth, with Shapiro pleading for Neil to reveal that he and BBC are on the left. Neil laughed - he is the chairman of a prominent conservative magazine, The Spectator.
Shapiro continued to berate Neil about his interview tactics.
“I hope you’re having fun going through every old tweet for ‘Gotcha’ questions,” Shapiro said, when asked about why he once called former President Obama a fascist. “If you want to discuss something I’ve done in the past five years, why don’t we do that.”
Neil followed up by mentioning that Shapiro once wrote that Palestinian-Arab politicians were “rotted to the core.” Shapiro threw down something on the desk and called the interview a “giant waste of time.”
“I don’t see how this forwards the debate,” Shapiro said. “You talk about undermining the public discourse — it seems to me that simply going through and finding lone things that sound bad out of context and hitting people with them is a way for you to make a quick buck on BBC off the fact that I’m popular and no one has heard of you.”
When the questions — most which were not answered, Neil noted — turned to Judeo-Christian values, Shapiro had had enough: “I’m not inclined to continue an interview with a person who is as badly motivated as you as an interviewer, so I think we’re done. I appreciate your time, sir.”
Neil got the last word: “Thank you for your time and showing that anger is not part of the American political discourse.”
Shapiro tweeted a partial apology on Thursday, after the interview was taped, for referring to Neil as a leftist.