Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro has hit a blip in his fast rise from podcaster to broadcaster. The talk host has lost two advertisers of his on-demand program after appearing at an anti-abortion rally in which he defended a hypothetical decision to spare the life of an infant Adolf Hitler. Both sleep/meditation phone app Calm and toothbrush maker Quip have withdrawn sponsorships of the podcast.
Shapiro’s “Ben Shapiro Show” is carried on more than 150 radio stations across the country, by Westwood One, as a combination one-hour podcast and two-hour live show. Among his affiliates are Cumulus Media talk WABC New York (770) and Cumulus sister WLS Chicago (880).
The controversy surrounds a live recording that has made the rounds, after Shapiro appeared at Friday’s March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., in which The Huffington Post reports that he performed live read ads from his sponsors—and also mulled over the philosophical dilemma of killing “baby Hitler.”
By Friday night, Quip told HuffPost it was ending its sponsorship of Shapiro’s podcast over the ad reads: “Our mission is to make good oral health more accessible to everyone, and podcast advertising is one way we’re able to realize this,” Quip said in a statement. “However, following one of our ads being read in a venue we did not endorse, we have chosen to discontinue our advertising relationship with this show. We are also taking steps to ensure all of our advertising partners are aligned with our oral health mission and values.”
Calm posted on Twitter, “We do not align with this message. We’re pulling our sponsorship.”
According to The Washington Times, Shapiro said during a live taping of his podcast at the event: “The argument, I guess here, is that would you kill baby Hitler? And the truth is that no pro-life person on earth would kill baby Hitler, because baby Hitler wasn’t Hitler, adult Hitler was Hitler. Baby Hitler was a baby. What you presumably want to do with baby Hitler is take baby Hitler out of baby Hitler’s house and move baby Hitler into a better house where he would not grow up to be Hitler, right? That’s the idea.”
The terms “Ben Shapiro” and “Baby Hitler” soon trended on social media as users shared footage of his speech, and a video of his comments was viewed more than 4 million times on Twitter as of Saturday morning, the Times reports.
Shaprio, 35, founded The Daily Wire, a conservative news site, in 2015. Monthly downloads of “The Ben Shapiro Show” totaled more than 10 million as of November 2017, The New York Times reported previously.