Podcast Movement, the industry’s biggest trade group and host of annual conferences that bring together top media companies, said in a statement it was wrong to claim Shapiro’s presence at its recent Dallas show caused “harm.” The mea culpa came after The Daily Wire and media giant Cumulus both vowed to end their support for the organization.
“As we stated, we’re continuing to evaluate our policies guiding social media & events with inclusivity, diversity & respect for all,” Podcast Movement said in its statement. “We have to start by sincerely apologizing to Mr. Shapiro for our reaction when he visited a booth we sold his company. That wasn’t right.
“Podcast Movement began in 2014, with four podcasters who had an idea to create a vibrant community that was for podcasters, by podcasters,” the statement continued. “We’re still those people with the same idea, and recognize there’s work to do as we grow.”
Shapiro, the Harvard Law-educated radio host, podcaster, and best-selling author who engages regularly in civil debates with conservatives and liberals alike, was seen chatting amiably with attendees at the event. The Daily Wire had paid to sponsor a booth at the trade show, and Shapiro accompanied several company employees to it. But one person in attendance was apparently triggered by his mere presence and complained to Podcast Movement on Twitter.
— Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) August 25, 2022
That complaint prompted Podcast Movement to send out a series of tweets that painted Shapiro in a negative light, apparently for no reason other than his conservative beliefs. The organization said Shapiro’s presence caused “harm” to some in attendance and promised to be “more careful” when considering sponsors in the future.
Shapiro jokingly referred to himself as “Darth Vader” in the wake of the incident, but said he found it disturbing that an avowed conservatives mere presence could merit such a response.
Daily Wire co-founder Jeremy Boreing, who at the company’s recent “Backstage” event had blasted Podcast Movement for “unadulterated bigotry” in its treatment of Shapiro, said he accepted the apology.
“People rarely admit when they do wrong, particularly on the left where every cultural indicator reinforces your error,” said Boreing, who founded The Daily Wire in 2015 with Shapiro and Caleb Robinson. “Podcast Movement did the right thing with this apology. [Co-founder] Dan Franks also called me to make clear their treatment of Ben was unacceptable. Good on them.”
The apology came amid pressure from industry heavyweights. In addition to The Daily Wire+, which is the No. 6 podcast publisher in the nation, Cumulus, which syndicates Shapiro’s show through its Westwood One subsidiary, said it was “dismayed and disappointed” by Podcast Movement’s initial tweets. Earlier this week, the Atlanta-based owner of over 400 radio stations said it would cancel its 2023 sponsorship plans over Podcast’s Movement’s treatment of Shapiro.
It was not immediately clear if either The Daily Wire or Cumulus would rejoin the organization in light of its apology.