The Economist changed a headline, deleted a tweet, and posted a retraction after initially — and wrongly — referring to conservative firebrand Ben Shapiro as an "alt-right sage."
Shapiro has been staunchly critical of the "alt-right." The changes were made only after the publication was hit by widespread criticism for its mislabeling.
Wait, what happened?
The Economist published an interview with Shapiro on Thursday, in which they discussed his views on the importance of Western Civilization. Shapiro's latest book, "The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great" is currently the No. 1 New York Times best-seller in the non-fiction category.
This article's headline called Shapiro an "alt-right sage without the rage" and the text of the article referred to him as a "pop-idol of the alt-right." "Alt-right" is a term used to describe conspiracy theorists and racists who profess to be part of conservatism while holding beliefs ideologically opposed to conservatism itself. Members of this group are also often anti-Semitic.
Image source: Twitter screenshot
After facing intense backlash, the Economist changed its headline and deleted the tweet included in the screenshot above this text.
The article also now starts with a editor's note that reads:
This article has been changed. A previous version mistakenly described Mr Shapiro as an "alt-right sage" and "a pop idol of the alt right". In fact, he has been strongly critical of the alt-right movement. We apologise.
However, even with this editor's note, the article still says that Shapiro's outlet, the Daily Wire, caters "to hyperventilating conservatives."
Shapiro has responded
In a tweet, Shapiro commented on the headline change, saying that their new label of "radical conservative" for him was "defensible." He said that the outlet's accusations that he was "alt-right" were "disgusting" and "defamation." He noted that the very book he was interviewed about contains numerous criticisms of the "alt-right."
.@TheEconomist has now changed their headline -- now I'm a "radical conservative." At least that's defensible. Here… https://t.co/zd7xamKKhN— Ben Shapiro (@Ben Shapiro) 1553788900.0
Hit #1 on the NYT bestseller list and within hours @TheEconomist is lying about me by labelling me alt-right. How disgusting.— Ben Shapiro (@Ben Shapiro) 1553781914.0
Shapiro also said that "alt-right" people were "so evil I literally hire security to walk me to shul on Shabbat," and that if anyone wanted to lump him in with them they could "go straight to hell."
If you lump me in with people who are so evil I literally hire security to walk me to shul on Shabbat, you can go straight to hell.— Ben Shapiro (@Ben Shapiro) 1553784663.0
The Daily Wire wrote in response that "[t]he very idea that Shapiro would be termed alt-right is preposterous."
Other conservatives also rushed to Shapiro's defense, including the National Review's David French, who called it a "vile smear" and pointed out that Shapiro had been threatened by members of the "alt-right."
This is a vile smear. It’s rendered more vile by the fact that @benshapiro has been harassed and threatened by the… https://t.co/jCAMoGKt4r— David French (@David French) 1553794182.0