Podcast Movement is an annual conference for podcasters and other content creators. Its summer 2022 meeting took place this week in Dallas, Texas.
Among the myriad attendees was conservative pundit Ben Shapiro. He visited the conference's expo center, where The Daily Wire—the conservative news site Shapiro co-founded—had a booth. He took some pictures with various people, and that was it.
For this, Podcast Movement is extremely sorry.
"Hi folks, we owe you an apology before sessions kick off for the day," read a tweet from the conference's Twitter account. "Yesterday afternoon, Ben Shapiro briefly visited the PM22 expo area near The Daily Wire booth. Though he was not registered or expected, we take full responsibility for the harm done by his presence."
Podcast Movement did not clarify what the harm was; the person behind the account evidently did not think it was necessary to even explain why Shapiro's presence is such a weighty betrayal of decorum. In subsequent tweets, the conference referred to the "painfully clear" weight of its decision to let The Daily Wire participate and lamented that it had betrayed the trust of attendees.
"Those of you who called this 'unacceptable' are right," tweeted the account. "In 9 wonderful years growing and celebrating this medium, PM has made mistakes. The pain caused by this one will always stick with us."
Those of you who called this "unacceptable" are right. In 9 wonderful years growing and celebrating this medium, PM has made mistakes. The pain caused by this one will always stick with us. We promise that sponsors will be more carefully considered moving forward.
— Podcast Movement at #PM22 (@PodcastMovement) August 25, 2022
The Twitter thread concludes with a note that neither Shapiro nor anyone else from The Daily Wire spoke at events during Podcast Movement and an invitation for attendees to ask any questions they might have. "We're here to talk."
I have a question: What was wrong with Shapiro being there? Podcast Movement is making it sound like there was some kind of violent incident or a visitation by a truly dangerous person. The conference did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shapiro, on the other hand, got back to me quickly.
"I was in the room and standing there breathing oxygen," he writes. "That is the entire story. There was no confrontation. No one spoke to me about anything political. Some people asked for pictures and I obliged. That's literally it."
Reading through the lines, it sounds like someone was upset to see Shapiro at the event and complained. Podcast Movement is a private conference, of course, and can include or not include whatever individuals and organizations it wants to. But we are getting into pretty crazy territory if the mere presence of a mainstream conservative podcaster at a large podcasting convention triggers apoplexy among some progressives.
I'd bet that very few people were actually upset about Shapiro's presence; Podcast Movement's organizers might want to think harder about whether they want to extend veto power to them.