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.