• Dave Rubin’s Reddit AMA: A Postmortem

    I rarely participate in Reddit AMAs, so I have no idea how common it is for the subject to be torn apart by the audience. I imagine it’s fairly atypical, which is why I was pleasantly surprised when Dave Rubin’s recent AMA turned into something more meaningful than a classical liberal circle jerk. Rubin undoubtedly anticipated an evening of softballs, so he must have been taken aback by the sheer volume of criticism. There was little of substance to be found in his responses, but the questions were encouraging.

    I decided to toss in a few of my own under the username “Clydey2Times”,  fully expecting a torrent of abuse from Dave’s cultish fan base. But as it turns out, an awful lot of people are tired of the former TYT man’s “rogue liberal” shtick. His vague, evasive responses were rapidly downvoted by the AMA’s participants, while more critical user posts received dozens of upvotes.

    Rather than just describe the general tone of the AMA, I thought it might be worthwhile to do a postmortem and go over some of the questions and answers. So without further delay, let’s get started.

    If Dave had no intention of criticising Trump, why did he say “I will be the first to hold Trump’s feet to the fire”? It’s not as if the media landscape has undergone wholesale changes. The mainstream media was just as critical of Trump prior to his inauguration, so that excuse doesn’t fly. Moreover, there are just as many outlets dedicated to bashing the left 24/7, particularly online. Hackery is by no means exclusive to lefties. The only thing that’s changed in the last 6 months is Dave’s willingness to piss off his fan base/Patreon subscribers.

    Rubin’s final point is ludicrous. The notion that post-modernism represents a bigger threat to Western civilisation than Trump and right wing populism almost defies parody. The far left is unquestionably an issue that needs to be addressed, but these people hold no real power. Some perspective is in order.

    This is a dodge. Again, there are plenty of sites that rail against the left. It’s also completely beside the point. Dave’s issue with mainstream outlets is that they are relentlessly partisan. Indeed, he’s been banging on about activist journalists for the last week or so. That’s the core of his criticism. How, then, can he justify cosying up to InfoWars, Breitbart, Rebel Media and The Blaze? These hacks shoot as straight as a post-coital piss, yet Dave has the temerity to pretend he objects to partisanship?

    The Blaze sacked Tomi Lahren for failing an ideological purity test; Rebel Media’s Lauren Southern fired flares at migrant boats; Nigel Farage thanked Breitbart for their role in Brexit; and do you even need an example of InfoWars’ partisan lunacy? You don’t get to go on a rampage against activist journalism and simultaneously maintain alliances with some of the biggest hacks in the business. Not if you care about your reputation or intellectual honesty, at least.

    As I said in my response above, Dave has no case. It’s incredibly difficult to prove libel, and it’s unlikely simply describing someone as “far right” meets the standard for defamation. I say this as someone who defended Rubin against the charge. I genuinely don’t think he’s far right. In truth, I’m not sure where he lands on the political spectrum. The reason I don’t know is because I’m not convinced he actually knows.

    When confronted with accusations of being right wing, Rubin tends to equivocate. He’ll call himself “liberal”, but he does so meaning “classical liberal”. Classical liberal isn’t liberal in a modern sense, though. It’s libertarianism by another name, which is generally considered a conservative political philosophy because it emphasises small government. Dave even conceded as much during an interview with Ben Shapiro. However, he will then go on to rattle off positions he holds that would qualify as fiscally liberal, such as single-payer healthcare (which he bizarrely defines as private companies facilitated by the government).

    So, if Dave doesn’t know where he resides on the political spectrum how on earth is anyone else supposed to know? It’s not unreasonable to base an assessment of his politics on his content. He hosts a right wing show, and there’s no getting away from that fact. You can’t market yourself as part of the centre if your entire platform is dedicated to trashing the left. It’s irrelevant whether Dave’s guests are politically diverse. They’re all invited on to the same end: to criticise the left.

    Laci Green is scheduled to appear on The Rubin Report next month. She’s a prominent feminist and would qualify as pretty far left. Why has she suddenly been invited on the show? Simple. Laci has recently indicated that she’s sympathetic to some of the criticism aimed at feminism and the left in general. That’s the only reason Dave wants to talk to her. It’s just another opportunity to lament the decline of the left. Don’t get me wrong, the left should be criticised. But if you do it every single week for 2 and a half years, routinely ignoring the excesses of the right, you’re as partisan as anyone else and shouldn’t be surprised when people label you right wing.

    Dave’s appearance on Alex Jones’ show was filled with little more than mutual masturbatory back-slapping. Many of the people who like Jones are already fans of Rubin. What are they going to learn about liberalism from The Rubin Report? As noted above, it’s a right wing show dedicated to trashing the left. He’s not teaching them anything about liberalism. He’s just preaching to an ever-growing choir.

    Rubin’s claim that Trump’s presidency “has basically been fine” is obscene. If that’s what he really feels, I look forward to him lecturing Sam Harris on how hysterical he has been on recent podcasts. Even many conservatives, like Ben Shapiro and John McCain, don’t think Trump’s brief tenure has been anything close to “fine”. The Muslim ban, withdrawing from the Paris agreement, a cabinet littered with anti-science climate change deniers, a potentially lethal healthcare bill, obstruction of justice. That barely scratches the surface, and it’s only been 6 months. If that passes for “fine”, I have to wonder what Dave would find alarming. I get the impression we could be on the brink of nuclear war and he’d still be talking to Jordan Peterson about gender pronouns.

    I’ll draw the line there. I would encourage you to read the AMA for yourself, though. There are a lot of good questions I didn’t cover because Dave simply chose to dodge them. But if you’re as tired of him as I am, you should read them and most of the responses. If nothing else, it’s reassuring to know that a lot of people no longer buy what he’s selling.

    Category: FeaturedFeminismSecularismSkepticismSocial Justice


    Article by: James MacDonald

    James MacDonald is a freelance writer and featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. In addition to sports writing, James holds masters degrees in both Psychology and Social Sciences and covers subjects including sex, gender, secularism, media, and gaming, among others.
    • Lily

      This was a very fair critique of Dave, my biggest issue with him is how vague he is about things. He is asked numerous like as listed above about which media outlets to go to and he never gives an answer, just something vague. He does with the trump-russia saga and even if he thinks Trump is doing a good job he could at least explain why. However his interview with Majid was very good, bc Majid didn’t fall for his let’s just bash the left bs, he called both sides out.

    • “The notion that post-modernism represents a bigger threat to Western civilisation than Trump and right wing populism almost defies parody.”

      Alas, this is all too common. I get the feeling some folks have become so enamored of clashing with the regressive left that they forgot about the much larger forces of regressivism firmly entrenched on the right.

      • Three issues here:

        1°) What’s your evidence that the Right represents a bigger threat? Post-modernists are inside academia, crippling it from within, brainwashing students. They hold power in countries such as Sweden, where they changed the proven and useful way of snow-plowing to a ‘feminist’ one (?) that ended up with injured people and not-plowing the streets. What do you think it does to women in Muslim majority countries when the whole Swedish cabinet shows up in hijabs, as to “no offend” a misogynistic culture? Post-modernists have been portraying actual scientists, from E.O. Wilson to Steven Pinker, as racists, and have hindered research efforts (why do you think Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology, to name a few, are filled with ideology-driven drivel instead of actual and actionable knowledge?). They burn and destroy GMO trial fields that could help feed millions of people who are starving today. They have managed to effectively oppose evidence based proven ways to fight climate change that could help reduce greenhouse emissions, such as their unwavering opposition and demonization of nuclear energy. I wouldn’t understimate their potential for human suffering or pretend it is unmatched when we look at what the Right does. The Feminist Frequency host (I forgot her name) and Zoe Quinn have been invited to speak at the UN which, by the way, as of this week is working to make “cultural appropriation” illegal. So they very well could push for country-members to actually criminalize people dressing/eating/writing/liking/disliking whatever they want. I wouldn’t say those are petty issues unrivalled by the the Right’s own follies. I don’t think any of this “defies parody”; not by a long shot. The hard-won civil liberties of people living in free countries are not something we should take for granted.

        2°) I think there’s a case to be made against the Right/Left divide. We should criticize all kinds of anti-modernism, no matter what side of the aisle it comes from. (In the end, those assholes are the same shit: they both want to segregate people on the basis of their skin color, sex, gender, and any other biological traits; fascism 101.) To me, this “the Right is worse” dangerously resembles a tu quoque fallacy. Who cares if Linda Sarsour is right-wing or left-wing? She’s an enemy of human rights and equality, but by focusing on her being oppressed (!) she gets NYT op-eds and sympathy (and funding) from otherwise smart and caring people.

        3°) We need to do some house cleaning. (I’m not saying Rubin necessarily does that, though.) Personal heroes of mine such as Bertrand Russell and Rosa Luxemburg criticized the USSR and they were *right* when doing so, instead of the otherwise cowardly position of not saying anything about Stalin’s and Brezhnev’s human rights record lest that gave ammo to the US.

        And, actually it’s the other way around: refusing to do house-cleaning on the Left is the same as giving ammo to the Right. When zealots pretend having an only-X skin color day at colleges and they’re go unchallenged, that hurts the equality cause (and right-wing venues will get more reputable if they’re the only ones calling the Regressive bullshit). We need to hold our (supposed) allies to the same standards we hold our enemies.

        And I’m sorry I’m the one pointing this out, but it is the Regressive Left people who right now censors valid criticisms of Islam, and who pretends Islamism is not Right-wing, Unlike Christianity, Islam hasn’t gone through an Enlightenment process that could actually defang it, so it is our current most present threat. So I don’t think it’s farfetched to claim that the very people who tries to whitewash the bigger threat to the West are a minor issue when compared to the larger forces of regressivism firmly entrenched on the Right..

        • “What’s your evidence that the Right represents a bigger threat?”

          2 and 5/9ths of the U.S. government

          • People you can always vote out, and they have their jobs for only four years.

            What do you do about the hundreds of thousands of brain-washed students by someone like Susan Brownmiller with a tenure?

            • Tak Robin

              …Tens of thousands of people will die each year to due to a lack of health coverage… you know death is irreparable right?

            • “What do you do about the hundreds of thousands of brain-washed students by someone like Susan Brownmiller with a tenure?”

              I don’t worry about them overmuch, since they aren’t wielding hardly any power in any place that much matters. Literally the greatest threat they pose is converting my kids to their ideology, but then fundamentalists pose the same threat.

          • Lily

            I think in Europe the left is a bigger problem, there are a lot of ppl in Europe who are far-left to the point that they are regressive. I’ll never forget the reaction to the cologne attacks in nye the media wanted to cover it up because they didn’t want to look ‘racist’. It was insane, and that is a massive problem in Europe

          • jg29a

            I don’t see “the right” as the threat today, but rather the malignant narcissist who appreciates few principles of any political flavor, and who could easily have run and won as a “Democrat” against a Republican with baggage comparable to Clinton’s.

      • I think it’s pretty easy to get drawn into tribalism. I get the impression that’s what a lot of this comes down to. In the case of Rubin, his is a single issue show and he cares about that issue to the exclusion of everything else. It feel like he’ll make an alliance with anyone who agrees with him about the left, irrespective of what else they believe.

        • Lily

          It’s why he refers to ppl like Cernovich as the new centre because they both hate the regressive left. But you can dislike the regressive left & not ally with crazy ppl on the other side.