Steven Crowder's Fateful Run-in With Sam Seder
The circumstances could not be more opportune for a public humiliation of the famed conservative pundit.
Right-wing political commentators want to seem like strongmen with undeterred will, unfazed by critique of their flawed ideological theses, so it’s hard to implicate them in any manner of internet drama given their reticence to engage with those outside of their enclosed ecosystem–yet after careful planning and a good amount of wit, Ethan Klein of h3h3Productions managed to get Steven Crowder on the backfoot while exposing him for the real fraud he is.
YouTube’s right-wing political contingent is full of pompous figures like Crowder that feign a vying to debate their ideological nemeses, only to cower in fear when the opportunity presents itself bare. h3h3’s history with Crowder is full to the brim with interesting—and occasionally revealing—details, but the long and short of it is that the latter is quite displeased with the former’s dismissal of their pleas for debate. In YouTube speak, Crowder saw an opportunity to widen his reach by appearing on Ethan’s show and serve his usual embarrassing style of dialogue-tree red-herrings to seem dominant so that the politically-naive may come his way, but h3h3 refused to play on the Koch stooge’s terms and primed him up for utter humiliation.
Much of what precipitated this can be readily found in HasanAbi's interview with Ethan, and he was quite forthcoming with details considering that this was essentially a secret collaboration with Sam Seder of Majority Report to make sure that Crowder doesn’t miss his date. What’s interesting is that Ethan identified a few clues in Crowder’s behavior that might suggest he would’ve been opposed to facing his political opposite no matter the circumstances—if bailing out on the opportunity during Politicon of 2019 didn’t already foretell it—one of the anecdotes floated to corroborate this theory was that Crowder wouldn’t join a call with Ethan until Seder started his show, and the only way they ever got to meet is when Seder aired a pre-recorded feed on his YouTube and Twitch channels as a ruse for Crowder to comfortably slide into Ethan’s Zoom call, only for him to be served a nasty surprise.
A few hours after Hasan streamed his call with Ethan, the video of the debate went live on the H3 Podcast channel with some commentary for context’s sake, and it puts Crowder at an even worse position than his supporters would’ve best assumed. Ethan had long suspected that the reason Crowder made him a regular target of scold is the claim that the latter held a grudge for the former not obliging an invite to come physically on their show—yet Crowder denies it—but Ethan was quick with the receipts and provides compelling evidence that this is not true.
Later on in that video Ethan even takes liberty to zero in on Crowder’s claim of suing YouTube for demonetizing his channel—which is honestly the least they could do since justice for Carlos Maza has yet to be served—when it’s also not true. Him and his team looked into it, and it’s not a part of the public record–separate from the question of whether Crowder thinks his content is entirely abiding by community guidelines—a laughable notion by itself—it just goes to show how much of conservative politics is about posturing and aesthetical dominance rather than the salience of their ideas.
When the debate actually starts, Ethan quickly realizes that Crowder simply did not have the guts to conduct it on fair ground and was only interested in an easy win. As soon as Seder shows up on-screen through some live-production wizardry—in which the H3 Podcast’s producer Dan Swerdlove transplanted Sam’s feed onto Ethan’s—Crowder switches up the feed to one of his lackey co-hosts as he continued to lob in some cheap shots with his face yet to reappear. He later reemerges only to rebut Seder’s honest request for a debate with an irrelevant comparison of audience size, something that Crowder has to know would undermine his case given he’s debated other public intellectuals with even smaller followings than Seder.
The segment ends abruptly as Crowder decides it’s no longer worth the trouble to make himself the subject of further degradation, but what’s striking about that moment especially is the brief glimpse of honesty one gleans of the right’s #1 Nathan Drake fan. He lets his guard down and goes ballistic on Seder in what seems like a fit of rage motivated by fear, one that’s concealed by a thin valence of false confidence–he was caught off-guard by Ethan, and that’s perhaps simultaneously the most illuminating and hilarious part of the short-lived confrontation.
What’s next for Seder is probably a wave of new followers as he proved himself calm and collected in the face of Crowder’s erratic reaction, but that’s ultimately overshadowed by a realization that those on the political sidelines might not yet have about him, Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, and others of their ilk–they’re fundamentally unserious about the project of conservative politics beyond scoring a few points in their endlessly drawn-out culture war, and any attempt to get them to debate about the actual issues incinerates their confidence beyond recovery.
I’ll admit that I don’t take great pleasure indulging the worst that debate culture has to offer, but this one was uniquely amusing if only due to both sides’ seeming eagerness to debate each other, only for one party to back out as soon as they realized things might not turn out in their favor. Debates are usually the domain of shouting matches that last a good bit, but this one landed on a dud for Crowder in a mere few minutes–as a leftist, I take pleasure in conservatives proving themselves unfit for intellectual tussles, and there was no better example of it than this incident.