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27 May, 2019 18:53

BuzzFeed panned for claiming synagogue vandal was inspired by Ben Shapiro – an orthodox Jew

BuzzFeed panned for claiming synagogue vandal was inspired by Ben Shapiro – an orthodox Jew

Clickbait ‘news’ site BuzzFeed has been panned by the American right for reporting that an Indiana man who vandalized a synagogue with swastikas was “radicalized” by none other than conservative Jew Ben Shapiro.

The news outlet that published the unprovable Trump ‘pee tape’ dossier, and had Special Counsel Robert Mueller step in to correct the record on its false “bombshell” reporting is at it again. This time, BuzzFeed suggested that a man recently sentenced to three years in prison for vandalizing a synagogue in Carmel, Indiana was radicalized by none other than Ben Shapiro.

The man and his wife daubed Nazi symbols on the synagogue last year, targeting the house of worship because it was “full of ethnic Jews,” according to a Justice Department statement. The pair also attempted to create homemade explosive devices to set the building on fire, but were “spooked” by CCTV cameras.

The Justice Department acknowledged that the man, 21-year-old Nolan Brewer, “openly identified with Nazism and white supremacy,” but BuzzFeed went a little further. According to the outlet, Brewer’s teenage wife would share articles from right-wing news site Breitbart and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro with her husband, as well as more hardcore material from Stormfront, a well-known white supremacist forum.

The American right were in hysterics. A prolific conservative pundit and debater, Ben Shapiro is an orthodox Jew, and regularly wears a Kippah in speeches and public appearances. Shapiro is an outspoken defender of Israel, and an extremely unlikely suspect for encouraging violence against Jews.

Conservative pundit Mark Dice called BuzzFeed’s article “the dumbest thing you’ll see on the internet this month,” while columnist Art Tavana compared the site’s pearl-clutching to the moral panic around heavy metal music in the 1980s.

To be fair, there was a kernel of truth in BuzzFeed’s reporting. Brewer’s lawyer did in fact mention that his client’s wife read Ben Shapiro articles, as part of a sentencing memo pleading for leniency. However, Brewer did not tell federal agents that he was radicalized by the fast-talking Jewish conservative, as BuzzFeed claimed. Brewer did talk to federal agents about his influences, but never mentioned Shapiro to them.

Shapiro himself called BuzzFeed’s report “garbage.”

“Yes, if there's one thing I'm known for – as one of the most prominent Orthodox Jews, targets of the alt-right, and critics of the alt-right in America – it's directing Nazis to attack synagogues,” he quipped.

BuzzFeed later removed the tweet stating Brewer had talked with federal agents about Ben Shapiro, and replaced it with a (slightly) more accurate one.

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