Media

NPR’s Brilliant Self-Own

By Matt Taibbi

National Public Radio complains about a media figure who tells people “what their opinions should be” and uses political “buzzwords”

Yesterday’s NPR article, “Outrage As A Business Model: How Ben Shapiro Is Using Facebook To Build An Empire,” is among the more unintentionally funny efforts at media criticism in recent times.

The piece is about Ben Shapiro, but one doesn’t have to have ever followed Shapiro, or even once read the Daily Wire, to get the joke. The essence of NPR’s complaint is that a conservative media figure not only “has more followers than The Washington Post” but outperforms mainstream outlets in the digital arena, a fact that, “experts worry,” may be “furthering polarization” in America. NPR refers to polarizing media as if they’re making an anthropological discovery of a new and alien phenomenon.

The piece goes on to note that “other conservative outlets such as The Blaze, Breitbart News and The Western Journal that “publish aggregated and opinion content” have also “generally been more successful… than legacy news outlets over the past year, according to NPR’s analysis.” In other words, they’re doing better than us.

Is the complaint that Shapiro peddles misinformation? No: “The articles The Daily Wire publishes don’t normally include falsehoods.” Are they worried about the stoking of Trumpism, or belief that the 2020 election was stolen? No, because Shapiro “publicly denounced the alt-right and other people in Trump’s orbit,” as well as “the conspiracy theory that Trump is the rightful winner of the 2020 election.” Are they mad that the site is opinion disguised as news? No, because, “publicly the site does not purport to be a traditional news source.”

The main complaint, instead, is that:

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