1. The problem with the Ben Shapiro Playbook isn't primarily the author. It's that the *content* of the piece is bad, in a way that was eminently predictable given the author.

I'm going to go through the entire piece and explain why.
2. Shapiro's core argument is that House Republicans opposed impeachment because they saw it as a Democratic plot to undermine them — and, moreover, that they were right (or at least justified) in thinking that.
3. This logic has a glaring logical flaw: as @jonathanchait points out, Democrats couldn't use impeachment to tie Republicans to Trump *if they voted for it* nymag.com/intelligencer/…
4. The problem goes deeper than that. The evidence that Shapiro uses to argue that Republicans are justified is that Democrats and liberal commentators have argued that the Capitol Hill riot vindicates their positions on *issues other than impeachment*
5. Of course they'd say that — they're Democrats! You can debate the validity of these claims, but that says nothing about the purpose of pursuing impeachment. There's just no real connection between Shapiro's argument and the evidence offered for it.
6. Next, Shapiro argues that Democrats want to blame all Republicans and Trump voters for the riot — and will use this as a pretext for "repression" for conservatives everywhere.
7. This is a dodge. It positions the argument that the GOP bears some responsibility is necessarily unreasonable and evil. That a party that made Trump its leader and backed him for four years is axiomatically innocent, and saying otherwise is the real problem.
8. Shapiro's "evidence" for this claim that Democrats want to "repress" the GOP? That corporations — not Democrats, *corporations* — punished outlets and politicians who either tolerated violent rhetoric or encouraged the election fraud delusion.
9. These were targeted actions against specific groups, not the entire Republican party. And yet Shapiro sees this evidence of a conspiracy to repress the entire GOP!

So you see the real argument here: it's not just impeachment, but any consequences, that are illegitimate.
10. Now, here's the next section. Virtually every claim in this is either dishonest or false.

In 2018, Abrams didn't try to overturn the election, telling supporters that "the law currently allows no further viable remedy" for an election she felt (justifiably!) was unfair.
11. Raskin's objections were pro forma and without support from a Senate member, so they didn't trigger debate. And the reputable First Amendment lawyers I've spoken to say there is a real case that Trump did incitement; Shapiro links out to a piece by Andy McCarthy, a crank.
12. Here's the last substantive section, which is really a con. Shapiro is arguing for "neutral standards" to "unite the country" while quite literally arguing for division — that Republicans are justified in seeing Democrats as evil and opposing impeachment to spite them.
13. But this is Shapiro's shtick. Out of one side of his mouth, he positions himself as a high-minded intellectual. Out of the other side, he offers up the most divisive conservative red meat imaginable. Some examples I compiled a bit ago:
14. So the real problem with today's Playbook isn't Ben Shapiro's identity. It's that the piece itself is poorly reasoned and outright dishonesty in a way that was predictable given his past work — and that no editor fixed the piece. It's just below decent journalistic standards.
15. Coda: there is an argument that Playbook is helping its more left-leaning readers understand the right better by publishing this. That's false, for reasons @AsteadWesley, @AdamSerwer, and @cjane87 explain here:
16. Coda II: this statement from Politico's EIC makes it worse, not better.

The logical and evidentiary flaws in the newsletter were glaring and obvious; if it was "very closely edited," then the editorial process failed. thedailybeast.com/politico-faces…

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More from @zackbeauchamp

13 Jan
One thing I think we're underplaying in the post-riot analysis: the degree to which Second Amendment ideology, the idea that the people should be constantly be prepared to use force to overthrow the state, created the conditions for this uprising
If you've been to a major conservative movement event, or even just spent time following right-leaning media, you see this idea is omnipresent.

This Jefferson quote is popular: "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
This is explicitly linked to Democratic rule and policies, especially related to guns. I get at this a little in this piece, specifically in rhetoric from Sharron Angle and Don Young vox.com/policy-and-pol…
Read 5 tweets
12 Jan
If you want to “heal” American democracy, you have to punish the people who are making it sick vox.com/policy-and-pol…
Insights on democracy, violence, and accountability from @kcroninfurman, @pstanpolitics, @JayUlfelder, @henryfarrell, @jennifernvictor, and the late Guillermo O'Donnell all combine to suggest that democracy depends, in some key way, on accountability vox.com/policy-and-pol…
I also spoke with lawyers like @CarolineMCorbin and @sfmnemonic about whether Trump could be arrested for violent incitement — the ultimate form of accountability. It seems quite possible vox.com/policy-and-pol… Image
Read 4 tweets
26 Oct 20
This argument from @ToryAnarchist, who I count as one of the sharpest Trump supporters I know, seems largely at odds with actual American politics — where Democrats and liberals are the ones advocating for more democracy (e.g., abolishing the Electoral College) Image
The Discourse equates Democrats with "elites" because of their cultural power and identification with the academic establishment.

But Trump is unpopular! If he wins, it'll be with a minority of the vote and the backing of six unelected elite credentialed lawyers.
I think this sort of take confuses political systems (democracy) with epistemic standards during democratic deliberation (how much weight to put on expert opinion).
Read 4 tweets
16 Sep 20
It's important to criticize ideas you generally agree with, and I don't think I do it enough. So I want to thread three brief points about what I see as problems in left-liberal discourse today. Not insuperable or fatal problems, but problems nonetheless.
The first is anti-rationalism on identity issues. Sometimes, debates over unsettled empirical questions — would defunding police increase crime? why does Trump seem to be gaining votes among Latinos? — are themselves declared illegitimate or out-of-bounds.
The second, relatedly, is intellectual insularity. Socialist and conservative critics often raise genuinely sharp critiques of liberal politics — particularly relating to class, credentialism and history — that don't get the serious consideration they deserve.
Read 5 tweets
8 Jul 20
I think so much of our free speech debate suffers from treating things that are actually on a spectrum as black-and-white issues.
Everyone agrees that certain speech deserves to be excluded from prominent outlets. It's uncontroversial to say that, for example, the New York Times shouldn't publish an op-ed by David Duke on "the Jewish question."
Similarly, I don't think anyone of good faith and good intentions thinks that National Review was wrong to fire John Derbyshire for being a huge racist. Derb was "cancelled," but generally speaking it was seen as a positive step.
Read 6 tweets
26 Mar 20
1. This right wing media meme that Neil Ferguson "walked back" the Imperial College report's findings in Britain are utterly and completely false
2. The argument rests on the idea that Ferguson's Imperial team predicted that Britain could have as many as 500,000 deaths, but recently said that deaths there likely wouldn't exceed 20,000.
3. Except the original model predicted that a total as low as 20,000 was possible in the UK — if Britain changed course toward a more aggressive policy. Don't take my word from it; here's the table of projected deaths from the report. You can see huge variation based on response
Read 7 tweets

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