Politics & Policy

The Corner

The Jamie Weinstein Show: Ben Shapiro

Few conservatives have seen their star shine brighter in 2017 than Ben Shapiro, who just so happens to be the latest guest on my podcast.

This is actually Shapiro’s second appearance on my show. When I first talked to Shapiro over a year ago, we discussed how he had taken a big financial hit by not getting behind Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. One year later, things have changed dramatically. Despite not voting for Trump, Shapiro has become one of the most prominent conservative political pundits, especially among young people. His podcast, The Ben Shapiro Show, is the most popular conservative podcast in the country.

Shapiro, who used to work for Steve Bannon at Breitbart News, had a lot to say about his former boss, who he thinks the media has built up beyond what he is.

“I don’t think Bannon ever had a thorough going philosophy or ideology, I think Steve Bannon is a creature who loves power,” Shapiro said when asked if populist nationalists like Steve Bannon should be happy with Trump’s first year. “So it’s hard for me to say that on the basis of ideology he should be disappointed, because I don’t think Bannon really has an ideology. I think that Bannon comes up with his ideology based on what’s convenient and what he thinks is going to make him more popular.”

Shapiro scoffed at the idea of a Bannon presidential run, which Vanity Fair reported that Bannon is considering but sources around Bannon have denied.

“The thing about Steve is, because Steve is very testosterone focused, let’s put it that way, I think sometimes his balls outweigh his brains,” Shapiro said. “And I think that in that article, there is a lot of that. Like, his base is Trump’s base. And when I say his base, I mean he doesn’t have one. Trump’s base is — those are the people who know Steve, but only by association with Trump. So Steve without Trump is back to being Steve Bannon, the guy who was associated with Andrew Breitbart before he died, and was in the background at Breitbart doing Breitbart News Sirius Radio, until the Mercers found him.”

One of the regular questions I asked guests on my show is whether they know Matt Drudge and, whether they know him or not, what they think of him. I ask this question, in part, because while Drudge is hugely influential, he remains mysterious, only rarely giving interviews. So I try to get guests to offer insight into the reclusive conservative media mogul if I can. Shapiro says he doesn’t know Drudge, but he thinks without Drudge and his Drudge Report, “none of the right-wing Internet would exist.”

The whole conversation is worth listening to.

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