Along with many young conservatives of my generation, especially the young men, I owe a lot to The Daily Wire. Famous for the likes of conservative commentator Ben Shapiro and Catholic pundits Matt Walsh and Michael Knowles, as well as more recently the major documentary What is a Woman” and the addition of psychologist Jordan Peterson to its roster, The Daily Wire has become a thought leader among the young conservative right.
The outlet is noteworthy—in a movement that often fears the accusation of fundamentalism—for openly espousing Judeo-Christian, and very often explicitly Catholic, beliefs and values. That is why I paid close attention when a turf war broke out between the conservative media company and right wing comedian Steven Crowder.
The Daily Wire became embroiled in an argument with Crowder over a $50 million non-binding term sheet of employment. In a video, Crowder said the terms—which included a reduction in the payment rate if he got demonetized or deplatformed—were tantamount to “enslavement,” and he accused Daily Wire (pseudonymously referred to as “Big Con”) of cozying up to Big Tech by penalizing content creators who might be demonetized.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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An ensuing slew of videos, counter-videos, twitter posts, and mutual anathematizing has followed, featuring Crowder announcing the possibility of his creating a rival media platform and Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing releasing a 55-minute video in which he reads aloud every sentence of the term sheet as refutation of Crowder’s claims.
These events are upsetting, as one never likes to see infighting between conservative figures, especially figureheads like Crowder and the Daily Wire. From what I can tell, there are only two ways of viewing this situation: either Crowder is right about Daily Wire’s treatment of him, or his claims are simply a manipulative bid for forming his own media conglomerate.
It is possible he really cares about the little guy (in fairness, he was the little guy once), and he’s trying to break the wheel of a system that stops creativity and penalizes truth telling. Yet, Crowder—who recently left The Blaze—is using this attack on Daily Wire as an opportunity to get the word out about his brand and kick start his own platform.
If Crowder genuinely thought Daily Wire’s policies were problematic, why didn’t he just walk away and start his alternative platform? And why attack Daily Wire of all groups, when it is in the middle of establishing an already successful Big Tech alternative, Daily Wire+?
The fact that he launched his attack, which, without specifically naming Daily Wire clearly referred to them, only after attempting to negotiate for more money, suggests he didn’t find the term sheet as egregious as he later implied. He clearly banked on his initial video provoking a response, which it did.
In a second video, titled “I didn’t want to do this…”, he played a secretly recorded clip from a private conversation with Boreing which seemed to support his assertion that all Daily Wire cared for was money. Crowder unleashed this clip while simultaneously protesting that he was merely defending himself.
It is unsurprising that this attack, which was referred to as “fratricide” in the National Review, blind-sided The Daily Wire. The media company has been a public ally of the comedian over the years, and Crowder was personal friends with multiple folk there (including Boering, whose phone call he secretly recorded).
Commenting on the situation, Michael Knowles tweeted, “Treachery and betrayal, especially of compatriots and benefactors, are the gravest of sins.”
Treachery against benefactors is not merely uncharitable but is a sin against justice and a betrayal of gratitude. It is despicable to turn against those who have supported us in our journey, simply when it becomes expedient. “Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens,” said Gimli in Lord of the Rings.
A lot of people on both the left and the right have shared that they just “don’t care” about this spat: left wing people because they see both sides as alt right grifters; while some conservatives see themselves as above the “grubbiness” of groups like Daily Wire, even though such grubbiness is merely the inevitable dirt that comes from fighting in the trenches.
But it’s wrong to be apathetic toward this fight. These events served as an important reminder to me of the debt of gratitude that I, and so many of my peers, owe to Daily Wire.
I have followed Daily Wire for years—watching videos from their founding in my high school years, attending talks by Daily Wire hosts on my college campus, and to this day keeping up with its work through the entertaining Back Stages or Matt Walsh’s provocative hit-documentary What Is a Woman?
For many young Catholics, the people at Daily Wire have been real bastions of sanity, giving us confidence that others think like us and the courage to believe our views are defensible. As a Catholic, I know Daily Wire isn’t perfect, but then again it is often a better champion of the culture than many groups in the Church in America.
These events coincided with my excitement at getting my first real, full-time job. After 18 months post-college working various positions to make ends meet, I now have a salary for doing something I love (writing) which gives me discretionary income. This has brought home a dimension of money to me that I was unaware of before. When most of your income goes towards food, rent, and sundry insurances, you don’t think too much about what I call the “boomerang effect” of money: as well as giving you something, buying things is also a vote to empower the producer of the goods.
This additional dimension to “purchasing power” helped me realize that even if I can get certain things for free, I also want to spend money on companies that I care about. This particularly struck me in terms of the subscription services I use.
Those born before 1995 may not understand a major initiatory rite for the modern boy passing into manhood: the shift from using the login information pilfered from friends and family members to creating and paying for his own accounts. Perhaps that is what William James meant when he spoke of the power of the “instinct of ownership” and of its rewards.
I had been happy for the past year to use my older brother’s Daily Wire+ subscription, as I cared more about the content I was getting than the group I could support. But this weekend changed that. Now I am a proud subscriber to Daily Wire+, and I am excited to be a part of an organization that is fighting so hard on the forefront of the culture wars.
So in a real way, thank you, Steven Crowder. You’ve reminded me that, even within the conservative movement, not all forces are equal. This conflict was what I needed to awaken the instinct to ownership, and to make a repayment, however small, of my debt of gratitude.