Shapiro in 2016
|Born||Benjamin Aaron Shapiro
January 15, 1984
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles (BA)
Harvard Law School (JD)
|Occupation||Political commentator, columnist, author, radio talk show host, lawyer|
|Spouse(s)||Mor Toledano (m. 2008)|
|Relatives||Mara Wilson (cousin)|
Benjamin Aaron Shapiro (//; born January 15, 1984) is an American conservative political commentator and writer. He has written seven books, the first being 2004's Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth, which he started writing when he was 17 years old. Also at age 17, he became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the country. Shapiro writes a column for Creators Syndicate, serves as editor-in-chief for The Daily Wire, which he founded, and hosts a daily political podcast and radio show called The Ben Shapiro Show. He is the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the media watchdog group TruthRevolt.
Shapiro was born in Los Angeles, California. His family is Jewish, having immigrated in part from Russia. Skipping two grades (third and ninth), Shapiro went from Walter Reed Middle School to Yeshiva University High School of Los Angeles where he graduated in 2000 at age 16. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004, at age 20, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, and then cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2007. He then practiced law at Goodwin Procter. As of March 2012[update] he ran an independent legal consultancy firm, Benjamin Shapiro Legal Consulting, in Los Angeles.
Shapiro became interested in politics at a young age. He started a nationally syndicated column when he was 17 and had written two books by age 21.
In his 2004 book Brainwashed, Shapiro argues that students are not exposed to a variety of viewpoints at universities and that those who do not have strong opinions will be overwhelmed by an atmosphere dominated by liberal instructors even if discussion is encouraged in classrooms.
In 2011, HarperCollins published Shapiro's fourth book, Primetime Propaganda The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV, in which Shapiro argues that Hollywood has a left-wing agenda which it actively promotes through prime-time entertainment programming. In the book, the producers of Happy Days and M*A*S*H say they pursued a pro-pacifist, anti-Vietnam agenda in those series. The same year Primetime Propaganda came out, Shapiro became a fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
As a journalist
On October 7, 2013, Shapiro co-founded the TruthRevolt U.S. news and activism website in association with the David Horowitz Freedom Center. As of March 7, 2018, TruthRevolt "closed up shop". In 2012, Shapiro became editor-at-large of Breitbart News, a news and opinion website founded by Andrew Breitbart. In March 2016, Shapiro resigned from his position as editor-at-large of Breitbart News following what he characterized as the website's lack of support for reporter Michelle Fields in response to her alleged assault by Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's former campaign manager.
Shapiro founded The Daily Wire on September 21, 2015. He is editor-in-chief as well as a host of his online political podcast The Ben Shapiro Show, broadcast every weekday. As of November 2017, the podcast was downloaded 10 million times each month. Westwood One began syndicating The Ben Shapiro Show to radio in 2018.
On February 7, 2013, Shapiro published an article citing unspecified Senate sources who said that a group named "Friends of Hamas" was among foreign contributors to the political campaign of Chuck Hagel, a former U.S. Senator awaiting confirmation as Secretary of Defense as a nominee of President Barack Obama, but weeks later Slate reporter David Weigel reported there was no evidence such a group existed. Shapiro told Weigel that the story he published was "the entirety of the information [he] had."
By 2016 he was one of the hosts for KRLA's "The Morning Answer", a conservative radio show. Internal emails showed that Shapiro faced pressure from Salem Media executives, the syndicate that owned the show, to be more supportive of Trump during the 2016 presidential election. Shapiro however remained highly critical of Trump throughout the election.
Shapiro's views have been described by The New York Times as "extremely conservative". He accuses contemporary liberals of creating an imaginary "hierarchy of victimhood" and glorifying perceived victims, leading to identity politics; The Times describes this as his central talking point. He believes, as he has argued in one of his books, that the left has used its dominance of cinema and TV to push its agenda. He also believes that the election of Donald Trump was more a vote against liberals, and Hillary Clinton in particular, than in favor of Trump's brand of conservatism.
Shapiro believes that African-Americans were historically victims of injustice in the United States, but that they are not victims of widespread systemic injustice today. As of November 2017, he supported lowering taxes on the very wealthy. He is in favor of privatizing social security, criminalizing abortion, and repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Shapiro frequently speaks at a number of college campuses across the country, often to present his conservative viewpoint on more controversial subjects. He spoke at 37 campuses between early 2016 and late 2017.
University of Missouri
In November 2015, in the wake of the protests at the University of Missouri, Shapiro was invited by the campus's chapter of the College Republicans, in conjunction with Young America's Foundation, to speak at the university. The speech, entitled "The Truth is a Microaggression", was critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, safe spaces, microaggressions, and other aspects of American college campuses and the behavior of modern college students. The theater in which he spoke was filled to capacity as over 400 people attended, and the live-stream of the event was viewed by more than 130,000 people.
California State University, Los Angeles
On February 25, 2016, Shapiro gave a speech at California State University, Los Angeles, entitled "When Diversity Becomes a Problem". Shapiro's speech focused on how the concepts of microaggressions and safe spaces were being used to suppress free speech in the name of diversity of skin color, while ignoring the value of diversity of thought. In response to the announcement of the speech, hosted by the campus's chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, student protesters demanded that the speech be cancelled, labeling it as "hate speech". The university's president, William Covino, eventually announced the cancellation of the speech three days before it was to take place, with the intention of rescheduling it so that the event could feature Shapiro debating someone with opposing viewpoints. In response to the cancellation, Shapiro said he would be attending the event anyway, and several lawsuits were threatened against the university for canceling the speech. As a result, Covino ultimately backed down and allowed the speech to go on as planned.
The day of the speech, hundreds of student protesters formed human chains to block the doors to the theater where the event was to be held, shoving away anyone who attempted to enter and starting several fights in the crowded lobby. Some students were ultimately able to enter the theater by being sneaked in through back doors, though the protesters soon found out and barricaded those doors as well. Shapiro eventually made it into the theater and began his speech, only for a fire alarm to be pulled by one of the protesters; Shapiro continued speaking regardless, calling Covino "cowardly" and referring to the protesters as "spoiled brat snowflakes" and "fascists". After the speech ended, Shapiro had to be escorted out a secret exit by police and his own bodyguards, while those inside the theater were told that they could not leave since the protesters were preventing anyone from leaving. Only after Shapiro left did the protesters eventually disperse, and those inside the theater were allowed to exit.
Three months after the CSULA incident, Young America's Foundation announced on May 19 that it was filing a lawsuit against the university (with Shapiro as one of the plaintiffs), claiming that the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the students were violated by Covino's attempted cancelation of the event, as well as the physical barricading of students from entering or leaving the event, and the encouragement of such actions by several campus professors.
On November 15, 2016, Shapiro was invited to speak at DePaul University, at an event hosted by the school's chapters of the College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom. The event also featured feminist professor Christina Hoff Sommers and had a focus on the subject of free speech on American college campuses, particularly in the wake of the recent election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. However, partially due to a previous controversy when Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at DePaul several months prior, the university officially banned Shapiro from attending the event, as a speaker or an audience member. Shapiro vowed to appear at the event regardless. Upon his arrival, he was blocked from entering the venue by a DePaul public safety officer, who informed Shapiro that he would be arrested if he tried to enter the hall. Shapiro then called Sommers, who was speaking during the event at that moment, and informed her that he would move to another building nearby where he would be allowed to speak. Sommers and the audience subsequently moved to that building to join Shapiro.
University of California, Berkeley
On September 14, 2017, Shapiro gave a speech at the invitation of the UC (Berkeley) student organization Berkeley College Republicans where he criticized identity politics along with those who use violence to suppress contrary views, whom he characterized as fascistic. The event involved a large police presence which had been promised by Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ in her August letter that supported free speech. Together, the University and the city of Berkeley spent $600,000 on police and security for the event, which transpired with nine arrests but no major incident.
Target of antisemitism
In May 2016 New York magazine reported: "Shapiro [...] has increasingly found himself targeted by the so-called alt-right movement, a loose conglomeration of online personalities—many if not most of them anonymous—currently devoted to tweeting and posting their support for Donald Trump and attacking those who disagree, often in racist and anti-Semitic ways. They have been denigrating Shapiro as a 'pussy,' a 'cuck,' and — inevitably, given the nature of this movement — a 'Jew' and a 'kike.'"
In an article in National Review, Shapiro wrote: "I've experienced more pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism since coming out against Trump's candidacy than at any other time in my political career. Trump supporters have threatened me and other Jews who hold my viewpoint. They've blown up my e-mail inbox with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. They greeted the birth of my second child by calling for me, my wife, and two children to be thrown into a gas chamber."
An article in The Washington Post quoted an Anti-Defamation League report that "focused in particular on the anti-Semitic tweets aimed at journalists, frequently those whose writing about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has displeased a large contingent of Twitter users who band together to attack these journalists online. The words most commonly found in the bios of the people who post these anti-Semitic attacks? 'Trump,' 'nationalist,' 'conservative,' 'American' and 'white' ... The target of the most anti-Semitic tweets, by far, was Ben Shapiro, a conservative writer who formerly worked for Breitbart and who does not support Trump."
Shapiro has three sisters. In 2008, he married Mor Toledano, an Israeli citizen of Moroccan descent. Shapiro and his wife practice Orthodox Judaism. Together, they have a daughter, born in 2014, and a son, born in 2016.
- Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth (ISBN 0-78526148-6). WND Books: 2004.
- Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future (ISBN 0-89526016-6). Regnery: 2005.
- Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House (ISBN 1-59555100-X). Thomas Nelson: 2008.
- Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV (ISBN 0-06209210-3). Harper Collins: 2011.
- Bullies: How the Left's Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America (ISBN 1-47671001-5). Threshold Editions: 2013.
- The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration (ISBN 1-47676513-8). Threshold Editions: 2014.
- A Moral Universe Torn Apart (ASIN B01I3X4ISK). Creator's Publishing: 2014.
- What's Fair and Other Short Stories (ASIN B016R28SLM). Revolutionary Publishing: 2015.
- True Allegiance (ISBN 1-68261077-2). Post Hill Press: 2016.
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- List of syndicated columnists
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- @benshapiro (May 7, 2016). "With infinite gratitude to God, we're overjoyed to welcome to the world our new baby boy, who arrived at 10:30 this morning!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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