Tomi Lahren: Conservative phenomenon, liberal fascination

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A few years ago, she was a soft-spoken journalism student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. As the host of the school’s political roundtable program, “The Scramble,” Tomi Lahren was the definition of politically correct, and the program focused mostly on the guests and their content rather than Lahren’s opinion.

Much has changed about Lahren’s role and delivery. Her news persona, since erupting to conservative media fame, has transformed from a host introducing guests to a voice for many conservative Americans. Where before she tepidly exchanged comments with members of the roundtable, Lahren now slings scathing criticism or words of patriotic zeal. When arguing with a challenger, she offers little time for a rebuttal. Even without an adversary, her sentences run rapidly from one idea to the next. At times the viewer hears words, but what registers instead is more of a general feeling—a mix of frustration and pride.

Lahren’s road to notoriety began when she applied for an internship at One America News Network. Despite her lack of experience in the professional world, she was offered the opportunity to host her own show.

From August 2014 to August 2015, she hosted “On Point with Tomi Lahren,” and in November 2015 she started hosting the show “Tomi” for “The Blaze.”

In March 2015, Lahren addressed the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, fighting to dispel the stereotype that all conservatives are “old, rich, white males,” and in July of the same year her tirade on President Obama’s reaction to the Chattanooga shootings went viral. Today she stands as a poster girl for young conservatives and has become a conservative phenomenon in and of herself.

Lahren has set herself apart from others while representing her viewers. As a young woman, she defies some of the demographic features of Republicans. However, she is white, seemingly well-off financially and Christian with familial ties to both the police and the military. From these characteristics, she represents a large swath of people. What attracts viewers to Lahren is largely the same quality that attracts conservatives to Donald Trump: her tone. Lahren speaks her mind and does so loudly. In a time when conservatives and Americans in general are frustrated in economics and politics, Lahren expresses their anger while identifying with their pride in God and country. Because she is a woman, people feel comfortable with her attacks on feminism, and through social media, viewers can share her message without clearly stating how they feel about an issue. Lahren thus shields her viewers from the hate they might receive for saying the same things Lahren does. She has become a sponge for liberal criticism of the right, and while many viewers agree with Lahren’s bold statements, the viewers can share the news personality’s message without the risk of more judgement from their peers.

With most of her appeals to emotion, Lahren’s words are not exactly food for thought. They mainly fire up the audience, including those who oppose her message. For liberals watching her videos, the spectacle of Tomi Lahren is akin to what Joseph Conrad described as “the fascination of the abomination.” A liberal might watch one of Lahren’s videos for the same reason a passerby might stop and gawk at the wreckage of a recent car accident — to be deeply unsettled. Her delivery is riveting, perhaps even frightening. And neither side of the political spectrum can get enough of her.