*Full disclosure: I have been a regular guest and host at The Blaze in the past and appeared on Tomi Lahren’s show recently.
By now anyone who follows political media has been made aware of the kerfuffle involving Tomi Lahren and her pro-choice comments while appearing on “The View” recently.
What Lahren said wasn’t very thoughtful or intelligent, but as someone who has flirted briefly with the media spotlight and lives and works in LaLa Land itself I can tell you that the pull of that world can be quite seductive to anybody. It can be particularly so for a 24-year-old cable channel, short-clip sensation who grew up in the age of YouTube celebrity and viral appeal.
Having appeared on “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah, Lahren seems to have caught that industry bug that is so easily contracted. The limo rides and green rooms, the lights and cameras, the buzz…it can all be extremely addictive. It feeds every selfish, self-interested, vain cell in your body. It really is like a drug, which is why we see so many young celebrities fall from great heights while in constant pursuit of their next “hit.”
I have no doubt Lahren has warmed to the taste of possible mainstream celebrity and the appearance on “The View” was just her trying to fit in where she can get in. I don’t even blame her for this. After all, she is practically a baby in today’s society of perpetual graduate students and special snowflakes. And much has been made (ridiculed, actually) of Lahren’s admitted distaste for reading but despite the humor in that the truth is that reading (or not reading) really does affect the confidence of one’s own mind.
Reading – of almost any sort, really – gives one the tools to stabilize and expand the mind. Lahren has no such anchor and at her age is easily influenced. At 24 I actually thought exactly the same thing about abortion that she professed. My views evolved as I matured and acquired knowledge and confidence. Lahren is simply exploring her own views, testing them. Would we expect different from anyone else her age?
The real lesson here isn’t that a young millennial has changed her mind or has spouted some “squishy” views for favorable treatment from the celebrity left…it is that you don’t make children your thought leaders. Conservatives have had every reason to be entertained by Lahren’s oft-viral “Final Thoughts”, but treating an immature and ill-educated young woman as the future of mainstream conservatism is a really bad idea. We shouldn’t be mad at Lahren, we should be disappointed in ourselves for putting more value in her words and thoughts than perhaps they were worth.
All this being said, while Beck was the one to hire her and give her a larger platform, he is absolutely right to suspend her from his network. Like any other business, The Blaze has a business culture to protect. Their model is based on the values Glenn Beck became so famous for espousing – life, liberty, constitutional literacy, etc. etc. Beck himself has become a very rich man precisely because he has learned how to speak to a core audience. That is the audience that sustains his business. You don’t want your most-visible employee directly insulting the deeply-held beliefs of your most important customers – especially when those customers were under the mistaken impression that said employee shared their values.
I’ve been blogging for 7 years and have worked at dozens of outlets. Every successful site I’ve worked for has maintained some type of culture that is ultimately reflected in their product. One site I worked for would not let any writers opine about gay marriage. They felt it was too controversial and turned off too many people on all sides. Another site preferred that their writers be pro-life and pro-school choice, as those were issues that were important to their founders. Those values were an integral part of the culture they were trying to foster among their employees.
Beck has his own culture at The Blaze. I should know – I’ve been a guest and a guest-host there many times over the years. There is a lot of legitimate criticism to be hurled at Beck and The Blaze but the one thing that can be said is that he expects certain values and principles to be inherent among his employees. As a recovering alcoholic and history-buff, respect for life is at the top of Beck’s list. It is a foundation of his own rise to fame.
Rumors have been flying for months over the business woes at The Blaze, but one thing is for certain – Beck and his staff won’t change their fate by allowing their own employees to shift the culture of the company. Lahren’s suspension is the red line in the sand, and frankly I find it encouraging. It tells me Beck is still concerned with his principles and with the product he is selling.
What Lahren did on “The View” may have brought quite a bit of attention (both negative and positive) to the young, unread blonde but it is not the kind of attention that is sustaining and growth-positive. It is the kind that inflates the balloon of the ego rapidly and then busts it with the tiniest of pin-pricks, leaving the subject to crash with no netting. Without substance, Lahren’s rise is just latex filled with gas.
Beck gets this. He’s been around long enough to know the trials and traps of fame in the mainstream and he knows that his business will not succeed if he allows his employees to succumb to those trappings. What Lahren did was nothing more than exercise the common whims of a young woman wanting to fit in.
Beck is a grown up running grown things and sometimes that means making the tough decisions. Sometimes it means scolding the kids you’re raising and teaching them that your integrity is far more valuable than applause.