Image: YouTube screengrab
YouTuber Ethan Klein was scheduled to debate right wing provocateur Steven Crowder yesterday. The plan was for the debate to air on their respective YouTube channels. Before the debate, Crowder had called Klein “a layup” and implied that he could easily best the YouTuber in a test of debatoroy prowess. Halfway through the debate, Klein tagged in fellow YouTuber and host of The Majority Report, Sam Seder. After complaining loudly about the ambush, Crowder fled the conversation.
If you don’t know Crowder, he began his career as a child actor and was once the voice of Alan ‘The Brain’ Power on Arthur. He’s long since pivoted to being a right ring media personality. He’s got a YouTube show and is most famous for being the face of the “change my mind” meme, which is based on a segment of his show where he debates college students on the topic of the day. “Steven Crowder, for those of you who don’t know, is probably one of the most hateful and bigoted people on the platform. He’s racist, homopohbic, I mean pretty much hits every box,” Klein said in the introduction to the debate video. Ostensibly, Crowder loves to debate and, for the past few weeks, he’d been calling out Klein and demanding the two match wits on air. Klein is an old-school YouTuber who produces podcasts and shows, much of it about the YouTube community and its drama. By his own admission, Klein isn’t a debater but he agreed to debate Crowder.
Crowder showed up for the debate in typical form—visibly wearing a pistol in a holster. “You said that I would be a ‘layup,’” Klein said after Crowder introduced him. “Which is fine and I think you’re right. I think I’m not a very good debater. I think you know that. I didn’t want to make it too easy for you. So I’ve prepared.”
Crowder then launched into his first question and Klein introduced Seder onto the stream. Seder is another YouTuber and podcaster who has been running a political talk show called The Majority Report for more than 15 years. In 2018, Seder challenged Crowder to a debate to be held at Politicon—an annual non-partisan political convention. Seder has said that Crowder and his company agreed then didn’t show up, but Crowder maintains that he never agreed to the debate.
Crowder wasn’t happy to see Seder take Klein’s place. “Oh no, Sam Seder, what a fucking nightmare,” Crowder said when Seder appeared. “I had no idea this was going to happen. I thought Ethan was a standup guy.” It's not super clear if Crowder was joking, if this was planned, or what happened.For a few minutes, they shouted over each other, with Seder pressing Crowder to talk to him about the issues, but Crowder continued to melt down on the air. He called Klein and Seder losers, claimed Klein was hiding behind Seder, and said Seder only wanted to debate Crowder because he has a low subscriber count. Then he started to mock Seder’s appearance.“Let’s debate Stephen, don’t be a coward,” Klein said. “Debate the issues.”Then Crowder cut off his video feed, and left the debate.