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Reading & Roasting: Dave Rubin, Part 0
How he went from The Young Turks to Glenn Beck employee, and why that's terrifying.
This is Part 0 of the Reading & Roasting: Dave Rubin series. Each week will focus on a different section of Rubin’s new book, Don’t Burn this Country: Surviving & Thriving in Our Woke Dystopia. (A+ title!)
In this Part 0, I explain who Dave is, why he’s a favorite of the right-wing, and why I’m equally amused by and scared of him. Subscribe to receive future editions.
If you’re unfamiliar with the name “Dave Rubin,” first, I’m extremely jealous of you. Second, he’s a right-wing culture warrior. Whether owning leftists with unimpeachable logic (“Trump is pro-trans rights.”) or standing up for free speech (“Negative reviews of my book are modern-day book burnings.”), we can always count on Mr. Rubin to provide an amusing glimpse into the right-wing psyche.
But Rubin wasn’t always like this. To give everyone the necessary background on our upcoming series reading & roasting Dave Rubin’s new book, we’re looking into how Rubin went from The Young Turks contributor to MAGA pundit.
A Seasoned Career
Rubin started his career as a standup comedian, eventually rolling his open mic appearances into working for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Following a few attempts to ride the 2000’s Great Podcasting Wave, Rubin started his YouTube show The Rubin Report. The show would go on to be picked up by TYT, dropped by TYT, picked up by Ora TV, dropped by Ora TV, go independent, struggle financially, and eventually end up on Glenn Beck’s BlazeTV alongside the (somehow still-alive) Duck Dynasty guy.
During that time, Rubin’s “ideology” went through the standard grifter lifecycle of Leftist > Classical Liberal> Conservative. Rubin cites the usual cultural battles to justify his political transformation, including but not limited to: “Trigger warnings censor free speech,” Progressives care about the color of your skin, not the content of your character,” and the classic: “Forcing Christians to bake gay wedding cakes is tyranny.”
Altogether, it’s a convoluted philosophy that ends up with Rubin arguing Donald Trump is the true defender of civil liberties, gay rights, and individual freedom.
Rubin claims his evolution was driven by principle, but the details tell a different story. Anna Kasparian, Rubin’s former co-worker at The Young Turks sheds light on why Rubin left the progressive network:
“He (Rubin) wanted to make a six-figure salary to host a thirty-minute-a-week show, while everyone here (at TYT) was getting paid far less while working twelve-hour days. That’s why he left the company. And now, all of a sudden, he’s getting funded by the Koch brothers, and now his opinions are very different. He has no political identity, he is not an honest actor, he is not an intellectual. He is a fraud, plain and simple.” (Full clip)
Kasparian’s reference to Koch brother funding refers to the 2016 financial partnership announced between The Rubin Report and Lean Liberty, a libertarian think tank funded and chaired by the Koch brothers. To go from “agreeing with everything Bernie Sanders says” to taking money from Koch industries in just 9 months is a warp-speed transition and not one that was made on principle or without external influence.
While we’ll never get an honest answer from Rubin explaining his leapfrog across the political spectrum, one doesn’t need a master’s in psychology to get the gist of it. Rubin hit his ceiling with the left pretty quickly. And as the audience-funded TYT network, which sits far outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party, wasn’t going to provide the income or stature Rubin desired, he “allowed” himself to be persuaded right by Facts and Logic.
Spending some time as a “Classical Liberal,” Rubin kept up the “liberal” persona while shepherding his audience to absurd rightwing ideas, such as “we shouldn’t have building codes or regulations.” But after a few years, he shed the mask, declaring “I’m a conservative” before asking the audience to “please clap.”
Today, Rubin is full-blown MAGA. He regularly appears on Fox News and the ultra-right NewsMax, talking about anything and everything he thinks will boost his Conservative credentials. COVID denialism, CNN is fake news, progressives are actually RE-gressive (Wow. Deep). After self-canceling off the crowdfunding service Patreon, Rubin started his own right-wing service, Locals.com. He even did the right-wing hajj, loudly announcing his move from California to the zero-income-tax state of Florida.
Play the Hits
But Rubin’s journey hasn’t been all bad. During his search to find “the most grift per minute,” Dave Rubin has gifted us the most outlandish, embarrassing, and downright unbelievable moments ever generated from the Trumpian right. To prepare you for some of the wackiness we’re about to hear in Rubin’s book, here are my top 10 Dave Rubin moments:
1. The time he learned (or rather, did not learn) about survivorship bias.
(That’s because they’re dead Dave.)
2. This absolute banger.
3. When he had his finger on the pulse of the Newsom recall vote. (Newsom won.)
4. When his “friend” Ben Shapiro told him he wouldn’t even attend an anniversary party because Rubin is gay.
Dave follows up years later, but Ben still thinks he’s an abomination.
5. Weird in-flight body shaming.
6. The smashing success of his first book, Don’t Burn this Book.
7. Despite that ^, him pricing a Wednesday night show north of 100 bucks.
8. “My opinions are shitty enough to make children hate their parents.”
9. When even Joe Rogan wouldn’t invite him on his show (1:52)
10. When he was part of the very-serious “Intellectual Dark Web.”
This reminds me of:
Why Dave Rubin Scares Me
While I jest at Rubin’s idiocracy, it’s a mistake to think that he’s just a harmless fool. By upholding himself as a gay ex-TYT hos, Rubin has whitewashed the MAGA movement for his audience.
His standard modus operandi is to take a “logical” look at a far-right policy before sanitizing it down and explaining how it actually “supports liberal values.” Take for example Trump’s 2017 Muslim Ban, which Dave dismissed as “not a ban on Muslims” (though that didn’t stop him from using that sweet sweet clickbait headline).
Never does Rubin address the fact that Trump put banning Muslims from entering the U.S. in his campaign ads. Instead, he’d much rather play faux-intellectual by explaining how the final executive order (which was a watered-down attempt at Trump’s promise that only banned some Muslims), was actually a well-thought-out and reasonable onset to a national conversation on immigration.
If you’re an impressionable young person who stumbles upon Rubin through the YouTube rabbit hole, you might be persuaded by this one-time progressive telling you it’s actually Very Nice the president tried to ban the world’s most popular religion.
That is the danger of Dave Rubin. And that is why I’ll be debunking whatever claims are in his sure-to-be-bat-shit-crazy book.
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