Malcolm Nance Suggests 'Bot Tweets' Behind Ben Shapiro Praise After Clash

Former Navy officer and national security expert Malcolm Nance suggested on Friday that Twitter bots were in part responsible for praise Ben Shapiro received following a clash between them on HBO.

Nance, who is an MSNBC contributor, appeared with Shapiro, a conservative commentator and Daily Wire editor emeritus, on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday.

While discussing Shapiro's latest book, The Authoritarian Moment, Nance joked that some readers would buy it because they assumed it was about "real authoritarianism" and later criticized Shapiro's show.

The book argues that the American left is becoming a source of authoritarianism.

Nance and Shapiro also clashed over the issue of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and schools.

Following the show, users of social media site Twitter praised both Nance and Shapiro for their performance—while some argued over who had won the debate.

Nance highlighted one tweet defending Shapiro and suggested it showed that bot accounts were praising the conservative author.

"I've seen a hundred of these 'I don't like Shapiro but ...' bot tweets Tonight," Nance wrote.

"I have ZERO fake accounts hating on me but then praising my 'performance.'"

Bot accounts are automated Twitter accounts that are not operated by real people and which have been deployed for political messaging purposes in the past. However, the account Nance pointed to may not be a bot.

I’ve seen a hundred of these “I don’t like Shapiro but …” bot tweets Tonight. 😂😂😂 I have ZERO fake accounts hating on me but then praising my “performance”. pic.twitter.com/BJpzSFS6ck

— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) August 7, 2021

However, the account Nance referred to did not appear to engage in obviously automated activity.

It shared several posts defending Shapiro's appearance on Real Time on Friday but those posts did not resemble the repetitive messages bot accounts frequently share.

The tweet in question said: "He [Nance] lost entirely lmao.

"I don't like Shapiro, but he schooled him."

Newsweek has contacted Twitter for comment.

During Friday's show, Maher discussed Shapiro's new book and asked him about authoritarianism from the right, specifically mentioning former President Donald Trump.

"With Tucker Carlson in Hungary right now, kissing up to the dictator Victor Orbán, I thought it would be a great time to talk about your book The Authoritarian Moment," Maher said.

"Which, I must say, I'm not being snarky here, when I saw the title I thought, 'Oh, he's writing about Trump.' But you're not, your thesis is the authoritarian moment is coming from the left."

Following a back and forth between Maher and Shapiro on the subject of authoritarianism, Nance said: "It's a nice title for his book, and I think a lot of people who would assume that he's talking about real authoritarianism could be trapped into giving you $28.99."

Later, the conversation turned to CRT and Shapiro claimed the controversial ideas associated with it are being taught in schools—a claim that has been advanced by many conservatives but which many teachers have dismissed as untrue.

Nance said the term CRT had been hijacked and he believed history should be taught in schools. Shapiro responded by saying Nance was defending CRT by redefining it as history, calling it "a cheap semantic trick."

"Is this what you do on your show? Because it sucks," Nance said.

Shapiro replied: "You know, Malcolm, I [...] I appreciate that, but I will comfort myself tonight by sleeping on my bed made of money."

The Daily Wire shared a statement from Shapiro about his appearance on Maher's show on Saturday. It was written following the show on Friday.

"Tonight, Americans will see the reason the Left plays semantic games when it comes to critical race theory: because when advocates for CRT are confronted with the overt racism of the program, they can't defend it," Shapiro's statement said.

"If we're going to talk about authoritarianism, we must look at who holds institutional power. The simple fact is that the Left controls the commanding heights of our media, social media, corporate world, scientific institutions, and bureaucracy — as well as the House, Senate, and presidency, at least for now.

"Americans can feel the danger of creeping authoritarianism each and every day, from evidence-free mask mandates to social media crackdowns on dissent to admittedly unconstitutional edicts from the White House.

"As I made clear tonight on Bill Maher's show, if the Democrats think their authoritarianism won't hurt them politically, they're going to be shocked by next year's midterm results."

Newsweek has asked Malcolm Nance for comment.

Update 08/07/21 10.07am ET: This article was updated to include a statement from Ben Shapiro.

Malcolm Nance Discusses His Book in 2019
Author Malcolm Nance attends the Build Series to discuss his new book "The Plot To Betray America" at Build Studio on November 14, 2019 in New York City. Nance has suggested Twitter bots are behind praise Ben Shapiro has received following a clash with the conservative commentator on Friday. Jim Spellman/Getty Images