Here’s something that might seem impossible post-2016 election -- last week, a liberal and conservative spoke at length about their differing political views without the conversation descending into screamed insults. Unfortunately, what could have been a productive conversation turned out to spark more disappointment than enlightenment.
A little background for those of you who attempt to ignore drama, as I should and don’t: Trevor Noah is a comedian and the current host of “The Daily Show,” attempting to fill the gaping hole that Jon Stewart left behind. Tomi Lahren is the host of “Tomi” on The Blaze, where she is known for her viral ‘Final Thoughts’ videos that people either love or love to hate. Last week, Noah invited Lahren to ‘debate’ on “The Daily Show.” Spoiler alert: no debate actually happened because Lahren bent the truth as usual and Noah kept changing the subject every three minutes.
One of these people OWNED the other. Which one you think probably depends on whether you watch Fox News or MSNBC.
Immediately after the show, TMZ published a photo that made it look as though Noah and Lahren were cozying up to each other over drinks (which they weren’t -- both production crews were in attendance as well and conveniently cropped out). Flirtation rumors were only fueled after Lahren posted a cute selfie posing with a cupcake she said was sent to her by Noah as a thank you.
On December 6, radio host Charlamagne Tha God tweeted, “Would be dope if a young black or Hispanic ‘WOKE’ woman used social media to create a Platform to be a voice like Tomi Lahren did,” seemingly ignoring both the black and brown women who have created their own platforms and the fact that Lahren didn’t create her own platform -- she was given one as part of her job.
The ultimate goal of both Noah and Charlamagne was to promote having conversations with people who hold different views, which I support wholeheartedly. I think that’s how we challenge ourselves, learn new things, and expand the way we see the world. For example, I can have productive and enlightening conversations with:
- People who have different views on economic policy
- People who have different views on foreign policy
- People of different religious faiths
- People who support the Cubs
Okay, maybe that last one is pushing it a little bit.
On the other hand, here is an example of a person who I choose not to engage:
- Someone who uses their platform to actively promote false and harmful narratives
Where do you think Tomi Lahren falls?
It’s for this reason -- not because people cringe away from a different viewpoint -- that many have gotten upset about Noah’s decision to invite Lahren onto his show and about Charlamagne’s erasure of the work so many women of color are already doing.
I’ll give the girl some props. She knows how to catapult herself into the public eye. I’ve watched everything from her college broadcast days at UNLV to her early appearances on One America News Network to the viral videos she makes now. At a certain point on OANN (where, by the way, she was quite literally gifted a TV show after asking for an internship), she realized that videos where she ranted were what really raked in the views.
After moving to her current home at The Blaze, she capitalized on that. You don’t need facts when sweeping your viewers up in emotion leads to your content being shared hundreds of thousands of times.
This is part of the problem with Noah inviting Lahren on to his show for a ‘debate.’ Lahren is not in the business of reporting the facts. Her schtick is saying whatever will make people either applaud in agreement or rant about the video on social media, because either way, her view count goes up.
This is the same person who argues repeatedly that Black Lives Matter is equivalent to the KKK, completely ignoring the history and context of the Ku Klux Klan in order to make her point. Seeing as the Black Lives Matter movement has never worked with public officials to terrorize and publicly lynch white people, the comparison between the two organizations has zero basis whatsoever. But it's inflammatory, and controversy is where she lives.
She also believes that the Black Panthers were a terrorist organization that crusaded against white people (again, incorrect -- the Black Panthers were careful to distinguish between racist and non-racist white people and purposefully allied themselves with the latter, while championing truly horrific programs like free food for poor children) and thinks that weather is equivalent to climate. I could go on, but if I were to fact check every blown up claim or instance of faulty logic in her videos, this post would turn into an encyclopedia.
Despite the lack of evidence for these claims, Lahren's audience eats it up. And when you have millions of people watching, as she does, that is dangerous.
Noah wanted to have a conversation and reach people of different viewpoints, but he really just gave more ammunition to someone who wouldn’t know an unbiased fact if it smacked her across the face. While he has been making the media rounds defending his choice to bring her onto the show, Lahren has been bashing him for being unfair to her and crowing about how much she challenges herself by going behind enemy lines. Lahren gets to brag to her viewers about her black friends and how she’s open-minded enough to talk to stupid liberals while continuing to ignore anything that contradicts her points.
Does that sound like a productive debate, or does it sound like Noah got played?
The deterioration of facts has been on full display during a presidential election where we talked more about Trump’s scandals and Clinton’s emails than we did about the issues facing the country for the next four years. A political commentator actually claimed that there is no such thing as facts. Baseless conspiracy theories are putting people in danger. Fake news spreads like wildfire.Yes, we absolutely need to break out of our echo chambers and speak to people with different views. But those views need to be based in fact. Without that common truth to work with, as the past week and months have shown, debates are just going to leave people angrier and more divided.