The internet was quick to pounce on Tomi Lahren after her appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, claiming she was ‘destroyed’ and ‘skewered’ along with other similar confirmation bias sloganeering. Not only were they not right, but they unwittingly demonstrated the very societal problem both hosts claim this interview attempts to fix: America’s dysfunctional partisan divide.
Here are some of the reactions to the interview:
Are these headlines really indicative of what actually transpired? Did she really get skewered? Destroyed? Did she bomb? Hardly. Was Lahren perfect? No.
There were a few answers that left a little to be desired, such as when Noah repeatedly pressed for a specific answer on how a black man should protest. This was in response to Lahren’s mega-viral opinion that Colin Kaepernick chose the wrong method of protest when he decided to kneel for every national anthem prior to NFL games. The encounter was a ‘win’ for Noah in the friendly room, but it isn’t a particularly strong point when given more than a passing thought. Voting, as Lahren later pointed out, would’ve been a nice start – but Kaepernick failed to vote this year. There are a zillion other ways Kaepernick could’ve protested – social media, press conferences, wearing special gear on game day, starting an organization, and so on. While Lahren could’ve pointed one of these options out, Noah shouldn’t be praised for not realizing there are plenty of other means available to protest here in America.
Lahren more than held her own in a very difficult environment. While Noah certainly had his moments, so did Lahren – only hers weren’t highlighted by an adoring crowd eagerly waiting to cheer any point made. And several of hers were edited out, as only 6 minutes of the 26 minute interview made the show, although the full version is readily available online (watch it here).
She made solid points on legal immigration, pressing Noah to explain how it’s fair for someone who has paid thousands of dollars and waited years to legally enter America while rewarding those who broke the law to get here. Noah shrugged this obvious problem off by saying he’d tell them ‘there’s some who did it one way and some who did it another way’ to get here, and then abruptly transitioned out of that topic.
By any standard, that is not a satisfactory answer. Certainly not one worthy of the precision ‘skewering’ the headlines promised.
Another ‘win’ for Noah was when Lahren explained that so many love Trump because he represents a President who is beholden to no one in Washington, DC. A fair observation. Noah interrupted and said “because he’s beholden to people in India, Russia, and China. But carry on.” The audience cheered. He’s referring to Hillary Clinton’s campaign talking point that Trump owes millions to foreign banks. That’s true, Trump does have debt, but so does every business and in most cases it’s completely normal practice. In fact, Fortune.com examined Trump’s debt and concluded “The good news for Trump is those big borrowings are backed by so much value and income that, believe it or not, they aren’t a problem.”
Lahren also had a very strong segment in which she voiced why middle America, including swing states, ended up tipping towards Trump. She explained the feelings of being ignored and even mocked by the coasts, and this election was a a reaction to that. Noah ironically responded by ignoring this comment and moving on to the next topic.
So biased was the crowd, in fact, that when Lahren simply recited a statistic during a discussion on Black Lives Matter (a real, actual statistic: an officer’s chance of getting killed by a black assailant is 18.5 times higher than the chance of an unarmed black getting killed by a cop) – the crowd booed.
How do you boo a statistic?
People watching desperately either wanted Lahren to rip Noah a new one, or see the Daily Show host humiliate Lahren. The headlines may suggest one of those outcomes took place, but the reality of this interview was that it was just two people with differing political views. There was no clear winner or loser. In fact, if you were cheering for a winner or loser then you are part of the problem.
Lahren deserves credit for her willingness to venture into such unfriendly territory. Noah deserves credit for having the discussion – although it’s hard to say if Noah truly wanted to understand Lahren’s point of view, or if he viewed her as a danger to society that needed to be lectured on national TV. I hope it’s the former, as these conversations are desperately needed in our divided country.
If his motivation was simply to get a scalp, it only sets us back further.
I have my suspicions – for a supposed comedy show, Noah sure took an oddly dark and dead serious tone and was about as hilarious as a funeral. Was he interviewing a 24-year-old female with strong opinions and a large internet fan base – or international tyrant Bashar al-Assad? Instead of humanizing Lahren, Noah immediately went on the offensive, as he barely got out a hello before launching into a ‘why are you so angry all the time’ attack. Lahren replied that she wasn’t angry, but apparently after watching a handful of Lahren’s 2-minute ‘Final Thoughts’ segments entitles Noah to judge her heart and know it better than she does.
To borrow a phrase from the left – isn’t this ‘mansplaining’?
Agree with her opinions or not, here is a woman absolutely dominating the internet. She is the most prolific media personality on the planet today, without question. Why wouldn’t Noah take a moment to celebrate Lahren’s accomplishments? For taking a male dominated arena and leaving them all far, far behind in her wake. Instead, Noah chose what appeared to many a condescending tone, making it seem as if these accomplishments don’t matter because she doesn’t hold his preferred political viewpoints.
After the interview, Lahren took to Twitter to defend Noah against some of her fans reaction to the interview:
To my fans: Trevor Noah is not a douche or a jerk. To Trevor's fans: I'm not a bitch or c*nt. We are people with opposing views. That's it.
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) December 1, 2016
To his credit, Noah also took the friendly road as well.
Thank you for being my guest Tomi. Our goal should be to destroy these "bubbles" not each other. You're always welcome on my show. https://t.co/AairL3cdAy
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) December 1, 2016
A nice gesture. One the rest of the media conveniently ignored. Make no mistake, they saw it. But left and right figures being friendly doesn’t help the bottom line – it’s better for ratings to keep us hating one another.
Noah and Lahren should be applauded for taking this step. Too often media personalities feel they have too much to lose in the event they don’t perform well. But that mentality has only served to create larger echo chambers on both sides and contribute to America’s overall inability to disagree and still respect one another.
These were two people with opposing views attempting to start a conversation and take a step towards understanding. Even if, as I suspect, Noah was going for a big career defining ‘moment’, he still gave her a platform for the conversation to take place.
Only time will tell if the intentions were indeed positive ones.
Perhaps, as a sign of goodwill, maybe he would be willing to leave the friendly confines of his home turf and be a guest on her show.