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Confider #95: Jason Whitlock Disappears a Controversial Interview, Ben Shapiro Tries and Fails to Rap

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

EXCLUSIVE — SORRY NOT SORRY: After coming under fire for hosting virulent antisemite E. Michael Jones, who claimed “the Jews took over the Blacks early on” and are “running the Biden administration,” TheBlaze’s Jason Whitlock has looked to distance himself from the scandal. Not only has the right-wing sports pundit addressed the controversy on his podcast, but he’s deleted tweets promoting his interview with Jones and taken the entire episode down from YouTube. Far-right commentators, meanwhile, have since mocked Whitlock and suggested that TheBlaze founder Glenn Beck forced the former ESPN personality to publicly apologize.

During a lengthy interview that aired on January 18, Whitlock described Jones as “a celebrated author, a public intellectual, [and] an ardent supporter of the Catholic faith.” Praising Jones’ latest book and noting that they both believe that “sexual lust…has been turned into a tool to control all of us,” Whitlock boasted that the author was “under attack by the Anti-Defamation League” and had been “canceled because of his writings.” Considering the ADL describes Jones as “an anti-Semitic Catholic writer who promotes the view that Jews are dedicated to propagating and perpetrating attacks on the Catholic Church and moral standards, social stability, and political order throughout the world,” it shouldn’t have been too surprising that Jones would eventually go on an anti-Jewish rant during the interview. Despite Jones’ stunningly bigoted commentary, which appeared to leave Whitlock in shock at times, TheBlaze host repeatedly nodded along with Jones and lauded him for his “fearless” views.

Photo illustration of Jason Whitlock on a red background with yellow exclamation mark signs over his mouth.
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/WikiCommons/Getty

After Jones said Jews are “undermining the moral fabric of the American people,” Whitlock appeared to back his guest’s remarks. “I get it, and I can’t say that I disagree,” he replied. Jones would go on to say that hundreds of Jews were running the government before making even more noxious claims about Jewish people “controlling” the Black community. At the end of the interview, which included on-screen “TRUTH BOMB” graphics, Whitlock gave Jones his seal of approval. “Mr. Jones, you are fearless,” Whitlock declared, adding that any critics should know that “the man is speaking facts, and I know the intent of what he just said, and I got no problem with it.” Whitlock then promoted Jones’ comments about Jews with a series of tweets but took most of the posts down within a day amid growing backlash.

On his follow-up broadcast, Whitlock discussed the controversy with two of his show’s regular contributors, insisting that he wasn’t fully aware of Jones’ notoriety until after the interview. “I should have been better prepared. That's where I blamed myself,” he said. “After the interview, I did start like looking around and seeing like, oh, man, this guy's got some real controversy to him. I don't regret having him on. I regret not being as prepared as I should have been.” Calling Jones’ antisemitic ramblings a “distraction,” Whitlock—who had previously defended Ye’s hateful anti-Jewish tirades—said he “fed into it by putting out a clip that I regret putting out” and that was why he deleted the tweets. Additionally, he stated that while the interview would remain up on TheBlaze’s site and conservative-friendly video platform Rumble, he “may decide to take it down off YouTube just because I know how YouTube works.” This past Wednesday, the video had indeed been voluntarily pulled down from YouTube but remained up on the other platforms.

Perhaps because Whitlock was just the latest prominent conservative pundit to go “mask-off” and lean into explicitly antisemitic commentary, far-right extremists were less than happy with his mild denouncement of Jones. Elijah Schaffer, who frequently traffics in antisemitic tropes and was fired from TheBlaze in 2022 over sexual misconduct allegations, described Jones as a “very astute” author while mocking Whitlock alongside ex-Blaze host Jon Miller. Appearing on Shaffer’s podcast, Miller repeatedly compared Whitlock, who is Black, to a slave while speculating that Beck had pressured Whitlock to apologize and delete his social media posts and YouTube video.

“I know if I had tweeted that at TheBlaze at the time, if you had said that, there would have been a lot of problems,” Miller exclaimed. “That’s all I’ll say about that. Then lo and behold, maybe two or three days later, groveling apology from this guy. Just, ‘I’m sorry, I had no idea who he was! I’m so sorry!’” Ex-NBA player turned right-wing conspiracy theorist Royce White, meanwhile, also suggested TheBlaze chief was behind Whitlock’s 180-degree turnaround, tweeting that Whitlock “apologizing for the E. Michael Jones thing is so typical” and “has Glenn Beck written all over it.”

When reached for comment, Whitlock denied that Beck or anyone else pressured him to remove the tweets or YouTube clip. “I took the interview off YouTube because I wanted to avoid a YouTube strike,” he said. “The interview is available on Rumble, BlazeTV, Apple, Spotify, etc. I removed the tweet because it overshadowed the purpose of the interview, a discussion about how sexual liberation is used for political control. I like Glenn Beck. Consider him a friend. He's very bright. He has nothing to do with my show. I realize most of the legacy media is most comfortable when Black intellectuals have handlers. Sorry for your discomfort.” Reps for Beck and TheBlaze did not respond to requests for comment.


THE FIRING SQUAD: After laying off most of its in-house staff last June, National Geographic axed its final staff writers last week, completing the controversial overhaul of the famous publication. Despite the dire gutting of its staff, the brand still hosted a glitzy preview on Wednesday night of its annual “Best of the World” list in New York, showcasing the top experiences, hotels, and restaurants for readers to visit in 2024. The event came a day after the paper laid off its final editorial staff writers—members of its Wildlife Watch team, a joint venture between the brand’s non-profit arm, the National Geographic Society, and Disney. The two staffers had been the magazine’s last writers standing following the paper’s drastic round of layoffs over the summer, editor-in-chief Nathan Lump confirmed to Confider at the event. Lump, who came to NatGeo after years on Expedia’s editorial team and stints at Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler, said the outlet will now depend on an array of freelance contributors and its staff of editors for output. “We’re never going to be a newsroom with 200 people,” Lump said. “We’re not that big.” It remains to be seen whether the layoffs will affect the magazine’s award-winning journalism. As recently as 2021, NatGeo was named as a Pulitzer finalist, alongside a streak of wins at the National Magazine Awards for the last seven years—save for last year, which was Lump’s first year as the magazine’s top editor.


LET THEM EAT BALLOTS: The effort to deny the broadcasting license of Fox Corporation’s local Philadelphia station has heated up in recent days. A group of activists, led by former Fox executive Preston Padden, have requested that the FCC reject the license renewal of WTXF, citing Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch’s willingness to allow Fox News to air baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. Throughout the process, Fox has argued that pulling the license would violate the First Amendment. However, last week, famed First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams rejected that argument after analyzing Judge Eric Davis’ opinion in Dominion Voting System’s defamation lawsuit against Fox. (The Murdochs ultimately settled with Dominion for $787.5 million.) “As for Fox’s claim that the First Amendment itself would be violated if it were denied license renewal, its own willful decision to repeatedly broadcast false information about the election as Judge Davis decided, provides ample basis to do just that,” Abrams wrote in comments submitted to the FCC. “Broadcasters do have considerable First Amendment rights—a good deal of my career has been devoted to seeking to establish just that—but knowing and repeated distortion of information that is broadcast about a forthcoming election is precisely what a broadcaster may not do and that the Commission may consider in determining whether license renewal is appropriate.”

Meanwhile, after a judge ruled on Wednesday that voting software firm Smartmatic’s defamation case against Fox could move forward, Padden cited the decision in his latest filing to the FCC. Noting that the court found Smartmatic has sufficiently alleged that Fox “employees acted with malice by purposely and deliberating publishing knowingly false stories about plaintiffs in order to benefit Corp.’s financial interests,” Padden claimed that this proved that the FCC needs to act. “This is exactly what was alleged in the Media and Democracy Project Petition to Deny and reinforced by the Informal Comments of our group and by Professor Abrams,” Padden wrote in his comments. “At the very least, the Commission must hold a hearing on these issues.” Fox didn’t respond to a request for comment, but they’ve previously said the petition to deny its license is “frivolous” and “completely without merit.”

Photo illustrative gif of Rupert Murdoch with a tricker behind him reading “Fair” and “Balanced”
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Reuters

RACIST SWILL: The American Conservative spent years as a preeminent thought magazine for traditional Republican values. But the title’s transformation into an online MAGA echo chamber may be complete if its recent anti-migrant articles are anything to go by. A column published last week by columnist Sumantra Maitra argued that, to deter mass migration to the U.S. and Europe, there had to be an “overhaul of any post-1945 human rights framework and refugee conventions.” If not, more violent action could be needed, Maitra wrote. “The powers that be should be willing to sink the boats in the Mediterranean, target the human traffickers and cartels in both North Africa and Latin America, target the financing and processing of migrants by NGOs and other entities willing to aid and abet mass migration, and mass-deport the millions who came illegally after 2015,” Maitra wrote. “It can be done.”

His piece follows an October column by Christopher Brunet titled “The Ballad of the Bibby Stockholm,” which took issue with the U.K.’s Isle of Portland. Brunet wrote that the island was at risk of becoming overrun by “rape, robbery, demographic replacement, and destruction of beauty” from the largely African migrants aboard the Bibby Stockholm barge parked outside the island late last year. “It is both funny and sad how the mayor goes out of her way not to mention crime or demographic replacement,” Brunet wrote about the Portland mayor’s opposition to the barge, which cited zoning concerns. “Possibly she is afraid of being called a Nazi by the left-wing groups that have lined up to defend the barge.” Another October column, by longtime American Conservative writer William S. Lind, claimed that “South American, African, and Islamic cultures” couldn’t deal with issues like climate change and “socialist governments” which prompted immigrants to flee their home countries. But, Lind writes, “wherever they settle in large numbers, crime, dishonest dealing, disregard for civic duties, and general decline follow. What was our country slowly becomes theirs.” The columns came after a Vanity Fair report last year documented the ideological struggle at the outlet between various donors, including the Koch empire and board member George D. O’Neill Jr. The American Conservative did not respond to a request for comment.


THE UNIVERSE IS PUNISHING US: Ben Shapiro, the founder of rage-bait factory The Daily Wire, decided to jump into the rap game on Friday with his collaboration with MAGA rhymer Tom MacDonald. As we wrote when the new track “Facts” debuted, “the whole thing is purposely cringe, which is the entire point,” especially with the duo lazily rapping about pronouns while begging “snowflake” liberals to be “offended.” In the end, Shapiro got what he wanted—tons of his fans downloading (and purchasing) the tune while supplanting hip-hop superstars on the iTunes digital charts. Worse than that is Nicki Minaj, whom Shapiro called out in the song, seemingly gave Shapiro props on his performance. “I just listened to it @benshapiro not bad. Congrats on #1. But it def sounds like Roman’s Revenge when the beat first came in…idk,” she tweeted at Shapiro. Needless to say, the Barbz were unimpressed with Minaj congratulating and embracing the right-wing firebrand. One thing is clear, though: not only is this going to be a long year, but MC Ben Shapiro is exactly what 2024 deserves.


IN PLAIN SIGHT: A/V Club’s editor-in-chief Scott Robson is leaving next month, marking yet another top editor to depart G/O Media within the past year. The company recently published a job posting for Robson’s position on LinkedIn… CNN announced a new slate of on-air contributors on Monday, including New York Times contributing opinion writer Jane Coaston, former NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro and ex-National Review executive editor Reihan Salam… NewsGuild filed an unfair labor practice on Monday against Sports Illustrated’s owner, the Arena Group, accusing it of targeting some laid-off staffers over their union activity… Liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America has relaunched its original video platform with an episode on Russell Brand’s transformation from “hero of the left” to conspiracy-peddling buddy of Fox News…


WE HEAR WHISPERS: Troubled media startup The Messenger, which has been desperately trying to raise money in recent weeks to stay afloat, is expected to tell employees this week whether the site will shut down or the fundraising efforts have been successful…


MORE FROM THE BEAST MEDIA DESK

—Before leaving us for new adventures, Confider’s Lachlan Cartwright delivered this cracking yarn about new Washington Post publisher Will Lewis’ controversial tenure working for the Murdochs. Tasked with cleaning up News Corp’s hacking scandal more than a decade ago, former colleagues claim that Lewis betrayed them in order to protect the brass. Read more here.

—After Keith Olbermann described her as an “absolute disaster” for touting Nikki Haley’s comments about how old Joe Biden and Donald Trump are, CNN anchor Abby Phillip torched the former MSNBC star by referencing his decline into “irrelevance.” Check it out here.

—The media industry continues to shrink across the board, with brutal staff cuts scorching the landscape last week. Amid the ongoing bloodbath, Business Insider announced that it was slashing eight percent of its remaining staff, less than a year after the company laid off ten percent of its employees. The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, axed 20 percent of its newsroom and gutted its Washington bureau on the same day as the New Hampshire primary.

—Fringe-right conspiracy channel One America News has been accused of engaging in “criminal activities” while peddling Trump’s 2020 election lies, according to court filings. Smartmatic, which is suing OAN, claims that the president of the MAGA network sent a spreadsheet containing passwords of Smartmatic employees to former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell in January 2021. Read more here.


RECENT READS

—As Rupert Murdoch begins to sunset his role as media emperor, Mother Jones took a look at the power he’s wielded in his home country of Australia (with some choice quotes from former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull). Read it here.

—The chaos at the Los Angeles Times that saw executive editor Kevin Merida pushed out may have stemmed from an intervention by the paper’s billionaire owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, over an article about…a dog bite lawsuit. Read how the billionaire reportedly tried to help a fellow doctor here.

—Condé Nast’s union rolled out a literal red carpet to rail against the company during a staff walkout last week. But few employees were willing to disparage the fashion matriarch overseeing some of its titles: Condé’s Chief Content Advisor Anna Wintour. Read Shawn McCreesh’s dispatch here.


***WHAT ARE WE OUTRAGED ABOUT NOW?***

Screenshot of a Fox News segment where they discussed Biden wanting Taylor Swift’s endorsement.
Screenshot/Fox News

Did you know that the Kansas City Chiefs going to the Super Bowl is proof that Taylor Swift is a Deep State psy-op to stop Donald Trump and get Joe Biden re-elected, and that will eventually lead to World War III? Well, according to the right-wing fever swamps—which includes a recent GOP presidential candidate—the Chiefs winning the AFC Championship for the fourth time in five years is all part of a carefully rigged plan involving the NFL, Travis Kelce, Big Pharma, the most famous woman in the world and Democrats. Reacting to Pizzagate conspiracist Jack Posobiec alleging that there was something suspicious about Swift’s current political leanings, Vivek Ramaswamy offered up his own tin-foil hat theory. “I wonder who’s going to win the Super Bowl next month,” the ex-White House hopeful wrote. “And I wonder if there’s a major presidential endorsement coming from an artificially culturally propped-up couple this fall. Just some wild speculation over here, let’s see how it ages over the next 8 months.” The “anti-woke” blowhard was hardly the only MAGA personality to suggest Swift’s relationship with Kelce is a government conspiracy. Serial plagiarist Benny Johnson, for instance, tweeted: “Taylor Swift is an op. It’s all fake. You’re being played.” Another right-wing podcaster referenced Kelce’s promotion of COVID-19 vaccines, raging that “The NFL is totally RIGGED for the Kansas City Chiefs, Taylor Swift, Mr. Pfizer (Travis Kelce). All to spread DEMOCRAT PROPAGANDA.” Over on Fox News, meanwhile, former ESPN host Charly Arnolt grumbled over the prospect of Swift endorsing the president in the 2024 election. “Now there’s an online plea circulating begging people to become Niners fans for the next two weeks just so it doesn’t raise Travis Kelce, aka Mr. Pfizer’s, star power along with Taylor Swift,” Arnolt exclaimed. “It is so scary. There’s a recent poll, 1/5 of Taylor Swift fans said they would back whatever candidate she endorsed… please don’t believe everything Taylor Swift says. We’re begging you!”

Confider will be back next week with more saucy scooplets. In the meantime, subscribe here and send us questions, complaints, or tips here.

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