Mother Jones vs. Dave Rubin


Former TYT commentator Dave Rubin has been embroiled in a twitter feud with Mother Jones journalist Josh Harkinson following the release of Harkinson's exposé on crowd-funded far-right media.

Dave Rubin identifies as a centrist liberal.  After leaving The Young Turks, he started an interview show called the Rubin Report, stylistically similar to a Charlie Rose- or Larry King-hosted interview show.

In his article titled "Cashing in on the rise of the Alt-right," Harkinson attempted to chronicle the rise of far-right alternative media outlets.  Relying on crowd-funding rather than ad revenue, these new media outlets stake out positions farther to the right than traditional conservative outlets such as Fox News and National Review, according to Harkinson.

Controversially, Harkinson listed Dave Rubin along with the likes of Charles Johnson and Baked Alaska as part of this new far-right media universe.  This irritated Rubin for a number of reasons.  For one, he isn't right-wing, let alone far-right; for another, Rubin's show cannot realistically be described as far-right or alt-right.

Perhaps less relevant than the content of his show, Rubin's personal beliefs could best be described as center-left.  Rubin supports marijuana legalization, gay marriage, legal abortion, single-payer health care, and a host of other progressive policies.

Further, an analysis of the guests who have appeared on his shows does not demonstrate a far-right tilt.  In the last year, Dave Rubin hosted roughly one hundred nineteen guests on his show.  Of these guests, only seven have any connection to the alt-right (and three of those seven are Milo).

His alt-right connected guests were Mike Cernovich once, Lauren Southern once, Paul Joseph Watson once, "That guy T" once, and Milo Yiannopoulos three times.  Importantly, none of those guests belongs to the core alt-right or true alt-right.  Instead, they belong to what is commonly referred to as the "alt-lite."

That is an important difference.  As repeatedly proclaimed by alt-right leaders such as "Vox Day," the alt-right is an anti-Semitic, racist, and white nationalist movement.  These are the specific elements of the alt-right agenda that the so-called alt-lite objects to.  Mike Cernovich, Paul Joseph Watson, and Milo Yiannopoulos have at various times explicitly rejected both white nationalism and the alt-right.  Dave Rubin has never had an explicit white nationalist on his show.

More importantly, while Rubin's guest list leans right, the overwhelming majority of his guests are not on the far-right.  His guest list includes a number of outspoken progressives including Ian Black, Hilary Rosen, Trae Crowder, and the Guardian's Nick Cohen.

By putting Rubin in the same company as alt-right sympathizers, Harkinson (falsely) branded the show as an extremist fringe media outlet and made it harder for Rubin to attract mainstream guests.

Dave Rubin is one of the few hosts attempting to attract a diverse guest list and promote dialogue between liberals and conservatives in an age of deep polarization.  Rubin's non-confrontational interview style brought out the best in his guests, who often expressed far more nuanced and sensible views when on his program.  If Harkinson's label sticks, it could kill one of the few media bright spots, and that would be a shame.

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