WATCH: Ben Shapiro Debated Ana Kasparian. Here Are The Highlights

Daily Wire editor emeritus Ben Shapiro debated Ana Kasparian Monday night, covering topics such as education, Critical Race Theory, and the news media.

Kasparian, who cohosts the popular progressive online news show “The Young Turks,” offered her perspective as progressive pundit against Shapiro’s conservative viewpoint. The two commentators found plenty to disagree on while headlining the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry’s annual dinner. The Daily Wire has compiled some highlights from the event.

Shapiro has ‘not thought one day’ about leaving California

Since Shapiro emigrated from California last year, the Daily Wire’s editor emeritus has “not thought one day about that decision.”

“It was one of the best decisions that I have ever made for my family. We are overjoyed. Florida is a wonderful state,” Shapiro explained. He said that he chose to live in Florida in part because of its tax rates – Florida does not tax income – and its vibrant Jewish community. The main breaking point with California came over lifestyle, however.

“My wife for years was saying, ‘yeah, we’re paying higher taxes, but you make a lot of money, so, you know, that’s fine.’ But the problem is you don’t get any of the public services back in California,” Shapiro said.

California for years has struggled to deal with a growing homelessness crisis that has increased crime and drug use in suburban communities. Shapiro said he would walk out his front door to see a homeless man shooting up heroine. He added that The Daily Wire’s offices had to be boarded up during the protests and riots over George Floyd last year.

“When [The Daily Wire] left” California, Shapiro added, “we thought we were going to lose half the people working for us. Instead, I think over 90% of our people said, ‘You’re going? Get us out of here.’ Everybody wanted out.”

School choice

The first point of contention came over school choice and the value of private education. Kasparian began by arguing that the United States should ban private education altogether. Finland “has the top education model, and they have completely banned private education,” Kasparian said. “I would do the same.”

While Finland has not explicitly banned private schools, the country has all but eliminated them. Schools in Finland are barred from charging tuition fees, and each one is financed through taxes.

“First of all, Finland is not the United States,” Shapiro responded. Comparing Finland’s educational system to that of the United States, then, is flawed, he argued.

Relative to Finland, “the United States has an incredibly diverse population,” Shapiro said. “The diverse population encompasses and enormous number of people who have very different beliefs about how education ought to be done.”

“To suggest that any national standard of education will not only please all of those people but prove to be successful in such a wide variety of circumstances for some 330 million people, we’ve tried this with a radically increasing federal education budget over the course of the last 30 years and what we’ve got is failing public schools all over the United States,” he continued. The exceptions to the general decline are “in areas specific local areas where there have been attempts to take back control locally.”

Critical Race Theory

The next debate topic began as a discussion over the culture war and morphed into a debate over the scope and influence of Critical Race Theory (CRT), which asserts that systemic racism continues to influence U.S. institutions and determine social outcomes.

Kasparian began time claiming that culture war topics such as CRT are often “manufactured as a distraction.” CRT is a graduate level course that is not being taught in elementary school classrooms, and the outrage over it from parents is a manifestation of other underlying societal issues, she said.

“It’s ridiculous and a massive distraction that, I think, is intentionally meant to be a distraction from what people are really feeling frustrated about: the precariousness of their work lives, the fact that people feel overworked, that they have no control over the work that they’re doing, that they feel alienated over the work that they’re doing,” Kasparian said.

Shapiro began by pointing out that a “very boiled down version” of CRT is being taught in elementary schools through authors such as Ibram X. Kendi, whose book is assigned reading in some elementary schools.

“When you are having elementary school students who are having to check off boxes with regard to their race and then explain to each other whether they are historically privileged or not in fourth or fifth grade, that’s a very dumbed down version of Critical Race Theory,” Shapiro said.

“It is a relevant issue when you have Terry McAuliffe, who is running for governor of Virginia, literally saying in open debate that it should not be parents who are making the educational decisions for their children, it should be the people in education,” he continued. “That is a culture war issue that, I think, is of key importance to people who have kids.”

Fake news and the future of the media

Asked about a return to objective, fact-based journalism, Shapiro said that the development of that kind of journalism is a relatively modern invention. Most journalism throughout the history of the United States came from writers and reporters who were also open about their opinions and biases, and often wrote editorials outside of their reporting.

“There is a difference between an objective standard that you apply to how a story is being reported and being an objective reporter, meaning you have no politics at all. I think, frankly, if you want to reinstall some institutional trust it would be good for reporters to say here’s who I voted for and here are also the facts that I am reporting on,” Shapiro said. “Otherwise, it ends up being a ‘gotcha,’ right? ‘I see how you’re reporting that, I know what you’re doing, I know what you really think about this story.’ So that’s a major issue.”

The conservative pundit then slammed the idea of “institutional gatekeepers” that determine which outlets are trusted sources of news and which should be minimized or deplatformed.

“The big players have all the incentives to ensure that they are the ones to maintain their access via the gates,” Shapiro said. “One of my great fears with some sites that we’ve been very successful with, like Facebook, is that reestablishing the idea that there are ‘trusted news sources’ and those are all, coincidentally, legacy media sources means that everybody who is not a legacy media source” is shut out of the market.

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