December 9, 2023

Candace Owens’ war of words with her boss at the Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro, has reached boiling point, with the conservative commentators taking jabs at one another on social media on Wednesday.

In recent weeks, Owens has drawn criticism from hard-right voices over her comments regarding the Israel-Hamas war. Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7. Israel has subsequently launched its heaviest-ever military response in Gaza.

More than 1,200 people in Israel have died and 240 people were taken hostage by Hamas, The Associated Press reported. As of Wednesday, over 11,200 people have been killed in Gaza, the AP said, citing the Gaza Health Ministry, while thousands more have been injured and displaced.

Owens sparked debate after posting a message to Twitter, formerly X, earlier this month that she opposed genocide. The Israeli military has faced immense criticism for its response to the Hamas attacks.

Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens
Ben Shapiro (left) and Candace Owens (right). Shapiro and Owens have been locked in a war of words on social media.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images;/Jason Davis/Getty Images

Owens has disagreed with a number of other political commentators for her not expressing outright support for Israel’s actions. Shapiro’s comments about her drew attention when a video was shared on social media this week.

The clip posted to X on Tuesday showed Shapiro, who is Jewish, answering questions in front of a crowd. He described Owens’ commentary on the conflict in Gaza as “disgraceful.” Shapiro, host of the podcast The Ben Shapiro Show, is the founding editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire, where Owens hosts her own eponymous show.

“The question is about Candace Owens,” Shapiro said in the video posted to X by user @LoomerLs. “I think her behavior during this has been disgraceful, without a doubt.”

Shapiro’s answer was met with applause from the audience, followed by his acknowledgment that Owens “still works at my company.”

“I think that her faux sophistication on these particular issues has been ridiculous,” Shapiro added. “Everybody can see the moves that she’s making and the things that she’s saying, and I find them disreputable.”

It is unclear which event Shapiro was speaking at in the video clip. Newsweek has contacted the press team at the Daily Wire for more information. An email was also sent to Owens’ team for comment Tuesday.

Owens addressed the comments during an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that went live on X on Wednesday.

When Carlson asked Owens if she was able to contextualize Shapiro’s comments, she responded: “There isn’t much of a background. I saw the video when everybody else saw it, when I woke up. Nobody warned me about it.

“It looks like maybe he didn’t know he was being recorded. It looks it was some sort of a private event. I got no clarity on the issue that he was particularly speaking on. And in what was said, I can’t respond to it beyond what he’s saying, because it’s just ad hominem attacks.”

“So I can’t respond to it on a level of intellect, because there’s nothing that he has expressed, at least in that short clip, that he fundamentally disagrees with in terms of what I said,” she continued. “But I will say that I’m not gonna respond with [the] same ad hominem attacks. I don’t think it helps further the discussion.

“If that was me that was caught on a video saying that about colleagues that I work with, I would be embarrassed. So I think the video speaks more to Ben’s character than it speaks to mine.”

When asked if Shapiro had contacted her to apologize or explain, Owens told Carlson: “No, nothing. I haven’t heard a single word. It just was sort of something that he said.”

Owens added that she and Shapiro “have many disagreements, so I don’t think that that’s particularly something that’s interesting. We disagreed on the COVID vaccine, we disagree on Ukraine and Russia… Virtually every stance has been the opposite of mine on every issue over the last five years, so I don’t think that that’s particularly remarkable.

“I am totally open to people having a difference in opinion,” she added. “I would hope that amongst colleagues that it would always be civil disagreement. I would never at a private event stand on a table and talk badly about Ben.”

The day before her interview was shared on social media, Owens took to X, where she shared a passage from the book of Matthew in the Bible.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God,” she wrote. “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

“Christ is King,” she added in a follow-up post

The post caught the attention of Shapiro, who publicly responded: “Candace, if you feel that taking money from The Daily Wire somehow comes between you and God, by all means quit.”

Hitting back, Owens responded: “You are utterly out of line for suggesting that I cannot quote biblical scripture. The Bible is not about you.”

She added in another post to Shapiro: “You have been acting unprofessional and emotionally unhinged for weeks now. And we have all had to sit back and allow it and have all tried to exercise exceeding understanding for your raw emotion.

“But you cross a certain line when you come for scripture and read yourself into it. I will not tolerate it.”

Conservative activist Charlie Kirk, founder and CEO of Turning Point USA, was among the number of X users who weighed in on the back-and-forth.

In a comment reposted by Owens, Kirk wrote: “I am genuinely confused why asking questions and quoting Bible verses about peace warrants a call to resign from Daily Wire. There should be more room in the conservative movement for disagreement. We can do better than this.”

While Owens interacted with a number of other posts taking her side in the exchange, and praising her for her interview with Carlson, one of the posts liked by her account was highlighted by X users.

Madeline Peltz, who is deputy director of rapid response at Media Matters, shared a collection of screenshots, alongside the caption: “Candace Owens is feuding out in the open with her boss Ben Shapiro over Israel’s war on Gaza.

“(Note her like of Brandt Wiggins tweet, a lieutenant in Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes’ “groyper” movement, which has disingenuously attached itself to the Palestinian cause).”

It was also noted by Ari Drennen, Peltz’s colleague at Media Matters, that Owens’ account also liked a post from a “blue check troll” who told Shapiro to “grow up.”

Roughly a week into the Israel-Hamas conflict, Owens fought with conservative journalist Megyn Kelly on X, wrangling over whether college students protesting for Palestinians should be “blacklisted.”

In a November 6 episode of her Candace Owens Podcast titled “Am I Anti-Semitic?” Owens sat down with Jewish comedian Ami Kozak to discuss the conflict in Gaza, and again drew criticism for asserting during the conversation that there are “Muslim quarters” that dictate where Muslim citizens are allowed to live in Jerusalem.

“I grew up in my grandparents’ house, my grandfather grew up in a segregated South, and so when I’m walking through Jerusalem, and you see, and they say, ‘these are the Muslim quarters, this is where the Muslims are allowed to live,’ that doesn’t feel like a bastion of freedom to me,” Owens said during her show.

Kozak corrected Owens’ statements, explaining that while there are ethnic communities within the city of Jerusalem, there are no specific quarters that “legally” dictate where Muslim citizens can live. Jerusalem’s Old City has four quarters—Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Armenian—and each neighborhood represents the ethnic group of most of the people who live there, according to the Jewish Virtual Library.