British broadcasting legend and veteran journalist Andrew Neil has officially unveiled GB News, a new, right-leaning network to counter the government-funded, left wing BBC. Neil may be best known to Americans as the conservative leaning reporter who embarrassed Ben Shapiro after the Daily Wire founder stormed out of an interview with Neil, accusing him of being a leftist in the process.
In a video announcing the official launch of GB News, Neil said the network will be “dedicated to covering the news that matters to you, and to giving voice to those who felt sidelined or even silenced in our great national debates” and “will not slavishly following the existing news agenda.” Instead, Neil said GB News’s team of journalists “will concentrate on the stories that matter to you and others are neglecting, and even when we’re covering the same stories as others, we’ll come at them in a very different way” and “reflect the views and values of our United Kingdom”
“What unites us is our firm belief that now is the time to do news differently. We are committed to covering the people’s agenda, not the media’s agenda. We will not lecture you or talk down, and nobody will be allowed to hectare,” Neil added. “GB News will not be yet another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset that already dominates so much of our media.”
— GB News (@GBNEWS) June 13, 2021
Many Americans were first introduced to Neil when, according to The Guardian, he “destroyed” Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro in a 2019 interview conducted while Neil hosted a program for the BBC that ultimately led Shapiro to storm out of the interview in rage, seemingly accusing Neil of harboring a liberal bias.
Neil, who while generally considered right leaning played a devil’s advocate role in the famous interview with Shapiro regarding his then-new book, began to seemingly enrage Shapiro with a question about abortion. “Back to my question to you: You purport to be an objective journalist. BBC purports to be an objective, down the middle network. It obviously is not, it never has been, and you, as a journalist, are proceeding to call one side of the political aisle ignorant, barbaric, and sending us back to the dark ages,” shot Shapiro, before asking, “Why don’t you just say that you’re on the left? Is this so hard for you, why can’t you just be honest?”
Neil responded by laughing and telling Shapiro, “Mr. Shapiro, if you only knew how ridiculous that statement is you wouldn’t have said it.” Later in the interview, Shapiro began aggressively refusing to answer Neil’s question, and demanding the veteran broadcaster answer his instead. “I asked you a question and you failed to answer a single one of mine. Frankly, I find this whole thing a waste of time.” Shapiro, visibly angry, continued, “If you want to critique me, you can think whatever you want of me, frankly, I don’t care, I don’t frankly give a damn what you think of me since I’ve never heard of you.”
Calmly, Neil responded that he had never heard of Shapiro before briefing himself for the interview, prompting another angry response from Shapiro, who raised his voice even further upon learning Neil had no knowledge of him. “Then why the hell are you interviewing me, sir,” Shapiro shouted, before suggesting Neil quote his book. When Neil proceeded to ask a question about the thesis of Shapiro’s book, he removed his microphone and left the interview.
“Quite frankly, I don’t think this, honestly sir, considering what – you know, I’m not inclined to continue an interview with a person as badly motivated as you as an interviewer, so I think we’re done here,” said Shapiro as he removed his lapel microphone with force. Neil responded, calmly, “Thank you for your time and for showing that anger is not part of American political discourse, Mr. Shapiro, we’ll say goodbye.”
Shapiro ultimately acknowledged his behavior in an apology and in a separate tweet acknowledging Neil got the better of him. First, Shapiro wrote, “I misinterpreted his antagonism as political Leftism.” He added, “For that, I apologize.” Days after the interview, Shapiro wrote on Twitter, “Broke my own rule, and wasn’t properly prepared. I’ve addressed every single issue he’s raised before,” wrote Shapiro, before linking to a Daily Wire article hidden behind a paywall. “Still, it’s Neil 1, Shapiro 0.”
In addition to his new broadcast network, Neil serves as the chairman of The Spectator. He previously worked as an editor of The Sunday Times, a contributor to The Daily Mail, editor-in-chief of Press Holdings Media Group, and was the founding chairman of Sky TV. Neil, 72, began his career as a journalist in 1971.