Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro wrote more than 3,500 words in 2017 defending Congressman Steve King after the media accused him of racism, saying the "left" was purposely twisting King's words against multiculturalism in an attack on Republicans.
Now, after King openly questioned why terms such as "white nationalist" and "white supremacist" are seen as offensive in the U.S., Shapiro has decided he was wrong.
King, who has often been accused of pushing white supremacist ideology, this week made his most direct statements in support of it. In an interview with the New York Times, King defended calls for a border wall with Mexico and defended the terms "white nationalist" and "white supremacist."
"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" the Iowa congressman asked in the interview, which was published on Thursday. "Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"
The statement was too far even for King's past defenders, including Shapiro. Writing for the Daily Wire, the right-wing news site he founded, Shapiro had offered a spirited defense of King after the congressman made a controversial statement interpreted as denouncing interracial marriage and children. In a 2017 tweet about the surge in Muslim immigration to Europe, King cited far-right Dutch political figure Geert Wilders, who had also been accused of pushing racist, inflammatory language aimed at immigrants.
"Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny," King tweeted. "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."
Though the statement was widely denounced as racist, Ben Shapiro didn't see it this way. He said that the media was "lying" when accusing Steve King of racism, purposely twisting his words.
"The deep desire to paint Republicans as racists rather than defenders of Western cultural superiority leads the media to lie," he wrote at the time. "People should read and listen to King's actual words before jumping on the bandwagon."
In light of Steve King's recent interview, Ben Shapiro has added an edit to the top of the article admitting he "gave far too generous an interpretation of King's words," though did not openly admit that King had been racist in the past statements. Shapiro wrote that the more racist interpretation of King's 2017 remarks "was not as implausible as it seemed at the time," though did not say if he now accepted that interpretation or not. Shapiro did call on Congress to censure King for the latest remarks.In light of the correction, Ben Shapiro has attracted some criticism online, with many noting that King's words and his intentions were clear even amid Shapiro's continued defense of him. Others said that Shapiro's support of King allowed the Iowa congressman to further spread racist ideology.