A social media proposal to arrange a debate between late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel and The Daily Wire editor Ben Shapiro swiftly gained traction among online conservatives. Shapiro has repeatedly criticized Kimmel for his views on gun laws and health care policy.
On Feb. 6, Austen Fletcher of Fleccas Talks took to social media to propose holding a debate between Kimmel and Shapiro to raise money for charity.
“DEBATE FOR CHARITY,” Fletcher tweeted out. “Ben Shapiro VS. Jimmy Kimmel. GOAL: Raise $500,000 for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.”
Fletcher, a conservative, said that he would moderate the debate with YouTube talk show host Dave Rubin in Los Angeles. In February 2017, Rubin told The Washington Times that he was a lapsed progressive who identified as “classically liberal.”
After proposing a debate location and volunteering himself as a moderator, Fletcher asked fellow Twitter users to retweet his missive “if you want to see this happen!”
As of Feb. 6, Fletcher’s tweet had been retweeted roughly 34,000 times, primarily by conservatives, with the majority of their comments asserting that Shapiro would handily win a debate against Kimmel. Fletcher’s proposal did not specify what they would debate about.
In May 2017, Kimmel made political waves when he spoke out against congressional Republicans’ attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The television host emotionally recounted how his newborn son had to undergo heart surgery during an opening monologue on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
“No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life,” Kimmel said, according to Variety. “It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.”
In October 2017, Kimmel asserted that lawmakers were doing the country a disservice by not drafting new gun laws in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting that claimed 59 lives.
“I don’t know why our so-called leaders continue to allow this to happen,” Kimmel said, according to The Hill. “Or maybe a better question is: Why do we continue to let them allow it to happen?”
Shapiro swiftly blasted Kimmel’s monologue in an online video.
“Who died and made him Jesus?” Shapiro said of Kimmel’s angry words following the Vegas shooting. “Like, really, how did this work again exactly that Jimmy Kimmel gets to be the great moral arbiter of our time?”
Shapiro, a writer, podcast host and YouTube host, is popular among young conservatives.
“Ben is the source of a lot of philosophy for young conservatives,” Daily Wire contributor Kassy Dillon told The New York Times. “I think it would be really hard to find a young conservative who doesn’t know who Ben Shapiro is.”
Kimmel was subsequently asked about Shapiro’s rhetorical question of what made him a moral arbiter.
“I’m not,” Kimmel told CBS News. “I mean, yeah, I agree with them. I’m nobody’s moral arbiter. I mean, you don’t have to watch the show. You don’t have to listen to what I say.”
On Feb. 3, Kimmel kicked off more controversy during an interview with the “Pod Save America” podcast in Los Angeles.
“It just so happens that almost every talk show host is a liberal and that’s because it requires a level of intelligence,” Kimmel said to audience laughter, according to the Washington Examiner.
Shapiro took umbrage with the remark and responded on social media.
“Careers that ooze intelligence: 3. Rocket scientist 2. Neurosurgeon 1. Late night host who says funny things writers write for him,” Shapiro tweeted out.
“Pod Save America” host Jon Favreau responded to the conservative criticism by tweeting: “[Kimmel] was of course kidding when he said it, which the entire room got right away. No bigger snowflakes than the crowd that yells about snowflakes.”
Shapiro appeared to endorse Fletcher’s proposal for a debate by retweeting the missive, according to The Daily Wire.
Kimmel has not responded to Fletcher’s tweet. It remains unclear whether he is even aware of it.
Sources: Austen Fletcher/Twitter (2), Ben Shapiro/Twitter, The Daily Wire, The Hill (2), The New York Times, Variety, Washington Examiner, The Washington Times / Featured Image: Disney | ABC Television/Flickr / Embedded Images: Gage Skidmore/Flickr, Disney | ABC Television/Flickr