And even some former fans say Mr. Shapiro is a brilliant polemicist, but in a tribal nation, he’s just one more partisan mobilizing his troops.
“He’ll never concede anything to the left,” said William Nardi, a college student in Boston, who used to look up to Mr. Shapiro. “He’s saying the left is wrong and I’m right. Kids love that. All they care about is this feeling that they are right and that their identity is preserved. That’s what he gives them.”
.. Mr. French calls Mr. Shapiro a “principled gladiator.” His aggressive tone draws in audiences, he said, but he does not attack unfairly, stoke anger for the sake of it, or mischaracterize his opponents’ positions. He even hits his own side, as he did with Sean Hannity for not weighing in on Roy S. Moore, the embattled Alabama Republican, and Mr. Bannon for supporting him.
“He appeals to the better angels of his audience’s nature, while still being a pugilist, and that’s quite a skill,” Mr. French said.
.. He is less established than Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, but his audience is younger. And instead of hunkering down in a studio, Mr. Shapiro travels the country, speaking at colleges
.. “So often I’ve felt turning on Fox, it makes you dumber, but you listen to Ben Shapiro and you are likely to be both entertained and enlightened,” said Charlie Sykes
.. People often discover Mr. Shapiro by seeing a video clip of him arguing with somebody.
.. He is often compared to his former colleague at Breitbart, Milo Yiannopoulos. On the surface, they seem the same. Both speak on college campuses. Both draw protests. Both used to work for Mr. Bannon at Breitbart. Both are young.
.. Mr. Yiannopoulos, a protégé of Mr. Bannon, was good at shocking audiences, saying things like “feminism is cancer.” But critics say that he was empty of ideas, a kind of nihilistic rodeo clown who was not even conservative. Mr. Shapiro broke with Mr. Bannon last year, saying Breitbart had become a propaganda tool for Mr. Trump.
Mr. Yiannopoulos’s act collapsed this year. But the fact that it lasted so long says a lot about the right’s fury against mainstream liberalism, Mr. Shapiro said.
.. Years of cultural dominance in TV, movies, comedy, media and to a large extent, universities, left conservatives feeling looked down on and labeled. Mr. Shapiro, who still lives in Los Angeles, wrote a book about it, “Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.” Add to that economic frustration, and taboos around race, gender and sexual orientation, and you start to explain Mr. Limbaugh’s explosive success 20 years ago.
.. “Trump won the nomination because he was anti-left, not because of any political viewpoints,
.. He thinks it’s easy to provoke the left, which he says has become intellectually flabby after decades of cultural dominance. It’s not good at arguing and relies instead on taboos and punishing people who violate them. That is the essence of his stump speech.
.. Even if straight white males are low on the left’s pecking order, they have most of the power in Washington, in statehouses, in every corporate boardroom. They run America.
.. “I am trying to militantly defend conservative ideas,” he said. “I’m not going to be anti-left for the sake of it.”