One of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in I don’t know how long is Ben Shapiro’s Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV. The book’s beauty rests on two solid pillars. The first is that Ben, who is so sweet-faced he looks as if he couldn’t hurt a fly, got liberal TV producers, writers, and directors to speak openly about the fact that they intended their TV shows — all of which were sold to the public as entertainment and all of which were, indeed, entertaining — to be propaganda vehicles for Leftist ideology.
By getting these detailed quotations, Shapiro ensures that his book cannot be dismissed as the ranting of a conspiracy theorist who sees Communism’s evil hand in Hollywood’s every move. There’s no conspiracy here. Instead, there’s a smiling confession from Hollywood power brokers who detail their goals and the way in which they used our television sets to achieve those goals.
The second pillar on which the book rests is Shapiro’s own writing style: he’s easy to read. His writing style is utterly straight-forward, although never boring. Reading the book, I had the sense that I was a participant in a delightful conversation with an informed, witty friend who was fleshing out for me something I’d only noted vaguely before.
My only problem with Shapiro’s writing — and this reflects badly on me, not on him — is that I’m incredibly jealous that someone so young has such a mature, informed world view, and that he is able to convey it so well to others. Despite having a few decades on him, I’m still a work-in-progress, but he’s a precociously sophisticated, intelligent voice.
I just purchased Shapiro’s latest book, Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans. The title, of course, is self-explanatory. I suspect that it will be a perfect companion piece to Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas. Intellectual bullying and cheating are, after all, the yin and yang of Leftist discourse.
I have some other books I’ve been meaning to read, so I’d originally put Bullies in the middle of my reading list. I’ve shuffled my list around, though, thanks to Shapiro’s masterful engagement with CNN’s resident bully, Piers Morgan. Currently, the video is one of those autoplay videos, so I won’t include it here. However, now that you’re warned about that autoplay, you can go here to see Shapiro reduce a bully to a quivering mass of incoherence.
Shapiro’s ability to reduce Morgan so completely matters, not just because it’s gratifying to see a bully beaten at his own game, but also because it helps shift the discourse. At Shapiro’s own Breitbart, Joel Pollak articulates Shapiro’s significant victory:
Ben Shapiro’s confident, fact-packed demolition of CNN’s Piers Morgan last night marks the turning point in the gun control debate. Ben showed that when they cannot exploit the deaths of children, gun control advocates are forced to defend their views, which are based on faulty premises. That timely reminder has given new energy and enthusiasm to defenders of the Second Amendment, who are preparing for the mother of all battles.
Ben put into practice something that Andrew Breitbart preached throughout his career of battling the mainstream media: Question the premise, whether it’s an assertion that you don’t care about the victims of Sandy Hook, or a faulty definition of Critical Race Theory, or that Barack Obama is a nice guy who only wants America to succeed. Ben destroyed the faulty premise of the gun control debate last night. And the debate is now changed.
Question the premise. What a great idea. I took that tack in an earlier post I did today challenging the phrase “gun control,” which presupposes that guns should be controlled, and leaves the scope of that control as the only question. The correct premise after Sandy Hook is to examine what steps we can take to make our country safer — and the data shows that depriving law-abiding citizens of their constitutional access to arms not only doesn’t make our country safer, it makes it more dangerous. If you operate from the correct premise, you are able to use the correct information, and reach an accurate conclusion.
Right now, the only problem is that the Left fully understands that Shapiro is a lethal weapon aimed at the heart of shoddy Leftist thinking. They’ve responded in predictable fashion, by burying Shapiro’s appearance on Morgan’s show. They might have celebrated Alex Jones (“Can you believe how unstable this gun advocate is?”), but Shapiro has achieved Voldemortian status, by becoming he who shall not be named. As Rush Limbaugh said just today during the few minutes I was able to catch his show, the media’s overriding ethos is that it’s only news if it harms Republicans. No other news is fit to print.
The fact that Shapiro is not only willing to take on a bully, but also perfectly equipped to do so means that, rather than merely looking forward to reading his book, I’m positively lusting after it (in a purely intellectual way, of course). I suspect that, if it’s as easily accessible as Primetime Propaganda, I’ll be able to read it quickly and review it soon.