The Profitable Victimhood of Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro's recent attacks on NPR's coverage of the Daily Wire reveals his rhetorical victimhood and twisting of the truth

Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro is at again. This time fighting with NPR, accusing the outlet of supporting censorship against his company, The Daily Wire.

The article, titled Outrage As A Business Model: How Ben Shapiro Is Using Facebook To Build An Empire, written by NPR’s Miles Parks, did not say what Shapiro alleged. Instead, the article examined The Wire’s business model and how it interacted with the Facebook algorithm, specifically how the Wire’s reporting acts as a parasite on the body politic.

Describing the nature of Shapiro’s website, Miles writes that:

Daily Wire articles with headlines such as "BOOK REVIEW: Proof That Wokeness Is Projection By Nervous, Racist White Women Who Can't Talk To Minorities Without Elaborate Codes" regularly garner tens of thousands of shares for the site, and Shapiro is turning that Facebook reach into a rapidly expanding, cost-efficient media empire — one that experts worry may be furthering polarization in the United States.

In other words, Shapiro’s news site depends upon its ability to make outrageous articles that slant the perspectives of its readers, all while drawing eyes to itself. The result, of course, is a significant amount of readers. Parks’ story is not the fire pointing out that the Wire has seen significant engagements on Facebook. The Wrap’s Sean Burch has made the same point, pointing out that The Daily Wire dominates Facebook and has since 2020.

The Daily Wire was the top publisher on Facebook in July, the most recent month data is available, according to research shared by data firm NewsWhip. The outlet had 98.9 million engagements for the month, or about 8 million more engagements than CNN, the next closest outlet. (Engagement counts all likes, reactions, comments, and shares that a post receives.) Those figures easily blew past The New York Times, which had 61.5 million engagements, and The Washington Post’s 43.6 million engagements.

Additionally, NPR’s story on the Daily Wire mentions several examples of the Wire attempting to circumvent Facebook’s authenticity policy. Citing Judd Legum’s Popular Information, Parks notes that several pages on Facebook were dedicated to promoting content from the Daily Wire without acknowledging that it was in league with the site, effectively feigning genuine admiration for the platform.

Therefore, what matters to NPR and the Wrap is not that the Daily Wire’s existence on Facebook end, but more so, how it conducts itself online. However, that will likely go unnoticed by Shapiro’s audience or the Daily Wire’s, for that matter.

Already, pro-Wire pundits are parroting the talking points. Unsurprisingly, Shapiro has parroted his positions, but fellow commentator Michael Knowles has also maintained that point. All well selling his book, much like Shapiro.

So long as these commentators repeat the lie, their audience will believe it. It wouldn't be too surprising if The Daily Wire and its pundits turn what originally amounted to a discussion about an outrage machine into a supposed example of establishment censorship.

This shifting of the truth is precisely what NPR is showing in its expose, so it is fitting that it too would become twisted into yet another symbol of right-wing propaganda.