An increasingly ugly and personal feud has publicly broken out this week between two of the biggest names in the conservative entertainment complex, with one popular YouTuber accusing right-wing media boy king Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire empire of colluding with tech companies to tamp down right-wing content.
“Big Tech is in bed with Big Con,” Steven Crowder said in a video this week, complaining about a contract offer he’d received from The Daily Wire—without specifically naming the company.
A day after Crowder told his viewers to “Stop Big Con,” The Daily Wire’s chief executive Jeremy Boreing published an hour-long response video detailing the negotiating offer that the conservative media empire sent to Crowder’s agent.
Boreing, besides confirming The Daily Wire had initially offered Crowder $50 million, claimed the podcaster misconstrued and misrepresented many of the details of the potential contract. He also took issue with Crowder accusing his site of doing the bidding of tech companies, insisting The Daily Wire has also been a victim of Big Tech’s supposed one-sided censorship of conservative voices.
A former Fox News personality and right-wing comedian, Crowder grew in popularity in recent years thanks to his trollish behavior, including meme-worthy “Change My Mind” segments in which he sat outside of college campuses and challenged random people to switch his conservative positions on hot-button topics.
Eventually, his Louder With Crowder online show was picked up by Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze and became one of the most popular political podcasts on Spotify and Apple. At the same time, he has regularly courted controversy by gleefully spewing homophobic, racial, and misogynistic slurs on his program, prompting YouTube to repeatedly pull advertisements and demonetize his content on the platform.
Last month, Crowder announced that he was leaving TheBlaze after four years, urging his fans—which he refers to as “Mug Club”—to sign up for updates at his personal site. At the time, he said he had “known for months” that he wasn’t renewing with Beck’s empire but had nothing but praise for the right-wing media icon’s fiefdom.
"I & Mug Club are leaving the Blaze." https://t.co/SVNUDoWcL4
If you're a Mug Club member or if you want to sign up for it in the new year, add your email here: https://t.co/Cll71JiM0B. pic.twitter.com/b4REmTAELJ
— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) December 15, 2022
While no longer with TheBlaze, Crowder’s show has continued independently, maintaining nearly six million YouTube subscribers and tallying more than one million subscriptions on Rumble, a YouTube alternative largely catering to right-wing audiences.
During his Tuesday broadcast, Crowder revealed that an unnamed conservative media company—which viewers quickly deduced to be The Daily Wire—sent him a contract offer. Without mentioning the monetary terms, Crowder groused that the contract included “penalties” if his show was demonetized, suspended, or removed from any major hosting and video sites.
“If any of the major platforms (e.g. YouTube, Facebook, Apple Podcasts, Spotify) issues a content strike (other than a ‘companywide’ content strike) such that Crowder content cannot be monetized on such platform, and the company is not able to resolve the issue within 90 days, then the fee will be reduced by 25% from that point forward,” read one portion of the contract that Crowder shared with his audience.
Big Con is in bed with Big Tech... pic.twitter.com/nH7AitP5Oe
— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) January 17, 2023
“Now, I thought this was a mistake because, you know, these people maybe didn't know who I am, that we've been demonetized for three years,” he grumbled. “No, it's made very clear to me in no uncertain terms, this is what's sent out to everybody.”
Crowder then added: “Think about this for a second: Those in charge—the big conservative, the Big Con, and it really is the biggest con going right now—they’re making it known in their contracts that they will enforce the guidelines of big tech and punish conservatives on their behalf.”
While raising alarm over another condition that would penalize him $100,000 for every contracted episode he doesn’t produce, Crowder further blasted The Daily Wire for turning their back on their fellow conservative media brethren and joining forces with Big Tech.
“We here at Mug Club, we thought that we were all in this together, that we were fighting the media-entertainment industrial complex,” he fumed. “We thought that we were all genuinely taking it to Big Tech. But, too many of those in charge of the big conservative platforms are verifiably in bed with them. Big Tech is in bed with Big Con. The people you thought, the people I thought were fighting for you, a lot of it has been a big con.”
In his response video posted on Wednesday evening, Boreing said he wanted to be transparent with The Daily Wire audience by confirming that Crowder was indeed talking about their contract offer. Methodically detailing the entire contract line by line, Boreing rejected the notion that the media company would seek to “punish” Crowder if a platform demonetized his channel or advertisers fled the show.
At the same time, though, he noted that the language of the contract was standard in order to protect The Daily Wire from shouldering the entire burden of any decreases in ad revenue—especially since The Daily Wire would provide advertisers and sponsors for the program, as Boreing pointed out.
“Steven’s philosophy appears to be: ‘I deserve to be paid millions and millions and millions of dollars whether my show drives the revenue or not.’ That’s not a business relationship,” Boreing said in his video. “He’s looking for a benefactor.”
As for Crowder’s complaints about being dinged $100,000 for every acceptable episode he isn’t able to create—something that Crowder likened to a “slave contract”—Boreing pointed out how this was standard, especially for the amount of money that they were offering the YouTube star. (Crowder, in his initial rant, failed to mention that he was offered $50 million over four years.)
Furthermore, Boreing noted that Crowder would only be contracted to provide 192 episodes a year—equalling out to four 90-minute broadcasts a week, minus a minimum four-week vacation. Crowder could tape broadcasts in advance and then air them later on if he needed time off.
After tweeting out Boreing’s video and saying he wished Crowder “nothing but the best,” Shapiro addressed the “controversy” during his Daily Wire program on Thursday. And he essentially doubled down on what Boreing had already presented, saying “this is typically how contracts work.”
Further pointing out that both The Daily Wire and Crowder’s show would “lose money” if it lost advertisers or access to certain platforms, Shapiro explained that this is “how a joint venture works” before taking issue with Crowder’s accusations.
“There is something rather nasty about attacking people who have been friends for over a decade—colleagues, defenders, for over a decade—on the basis of your own misinterpretation of a document that offers you $50 million over the course of four years,” Shapiro concluded.
Ben Shapiro reacts to Steven Crowder's accusations against The Daily Wire: "There is something rather nasty about attacking people who have been friends for over a decade" pic.twitter.com/SX95JNsBan
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) January 19, 2023
Finally, with much of Crowder’s criticism focused on YouTube demonetization and the ongoing issues his program has had with that, Boreing insisted that any terms related to that in the initial contract offering would have likely just been “scratched out in the second draft.”
In the end, Boreing said that the “public dispute” with Crowder was one of “saddest things he has had to face.” (This is not the first time Crowder’s penchant for criticizing right-wing media peers has gotten him into some trouble: In 2013, he was not renewed by Fox News after publicly ridiculing star host Sean Hannity.)
Meanwhile, one of The Daily Wire’s biggest stars briefly (and likely inadvertently) ended up siding with Crowder amid the increasingly heated feud. Clinical psychologist and far-right provocateur Jordan Peterson, who recently became a Daily Wire podcaster, tweeted out Crowder’s video while telling his followers that it was “on the hypocrisy of the ‘conservative’ legacy media.”
The tweet was soon taken down.
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