For most of us, being “banned permanently” from our place of work would be considered a fairly debilitating career setback. Not so for Tomi Lahren, the diminutive blond conservative who courts online clicks through a heady combination of platinum blond hair and white-supremacist rhetoric. It’s been a big month for Tomi, a woman who’s built her viral career by rearranging buzzwords like Beyoncé, Black Lives Matter, radical Islamic terrorism, and America.
Until recently, Lahren had been expounding upon the evils of Beyoncé/BLM/Islam at Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. As the spray-tanned face of Beck’s conservative digital network, Lahren has historically toed the party line—First Amendment, Second Amendment, snowflakes, etc. But all that brand synergy appeared to come to a screeching halt this month, when Lahren went on The View and declared that she was pro-choice. In the immediately viral segment, Lahren explained, “I am a constitutional, y’know, someone that loves the Constitution. I’m someone that’s for limited government. So I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies. I can sit here and say that, as a Republican and I can say, you know what, I’m for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well.”
While getting super turned on by limited government is a compelling conservative rationale for being pro-choice, Glenn Beck’s own boner for the Constitution apparently doesn’t extend all the way to female autonomy. After sharing pro-life sentiments throughout her time on TheBlaze, Lahren’s ideological 180 was taken as grounds for suspension. An insider at TheBlaze told the New York Post that Beck is “reminding the world of his conservative principles by sidelining Tomi after she insulted conservatives by calling them hypocrites.”
Of course Glenn Beck would be enraged by Lahren calling him and his ilk hypocrites—as an insult, it hits far too close to home. In punishing Tomi for appealing to liberals, Beck is proving to be the most hypocritical fair-weather pundit of them all.
Glenn Beck was demonizing black people and spreading misinformation long before Pepe the Frog, President Trump, and Alex Jones made it popular. He’s the guy who called President Barack Obama a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred for white people,” and asked if “America is expected to be solidly convinced he’s a Christian?” It’s this compelling cocktail of malicious conspiracy and certifiable paranoia that inspired Stephen King to call Beck “Satan’s mentally changed younger brother.”
But the media loves a fixer-upper—especially a rabid ideologue seeking redemption (and a pay rise).
In September 2016, Beck wrote an op-ed for The New York Times, and, in a relatively rational meditation on Black Lives Matter, the self-identifying “constitutional conservative” described BLM leaders as “black Americans who feel disenfranchised and aggrieved; they are believers; they are my neighbors and my fellow citizens.” He recalled inviting several of these “believers” on his show, where “I got to know them as people—on and off air.”
Beck’s call for bipartisan empathy was greeted by many as evidence of an old dog learning new tricks. Doubtlessly intrigued by the accolades and treats he earned for displaying basic human decency, Beck took his redemption tour a step further, arguing that then President-elect Donald Trump could be “one of the most dangerous presidents to ever come into the Oval Office.” And, in a rare moment of self-reflection, he expressed regret for his hypercharged rhetoric, pleading “Please be better than I was. Please learn from my mistakes.” He added, “It is painful for people on the right to agree with me, because they’ll pay a high cost. I’m looking for people who are willing to put some skin in the game and say, ‘Look, here’s how we went wrong.’”
Apparently, Beck’s performance of wokeness/regret was convincing enough to earn him some liberal love. In December, a fuzzy, gentler, Christmas sweater-wearing Beck appeared on Full Frontal With Samantha Bee as part of her “broad coalition of nonpartisan decency.” While Bee may have seen the merits of parlaying with an anti-Trump conservative on air, it’s difficult to see Beck as legitimate or worthy of forgiveness, let alone harmless and cutesy. When adopting a stray conservative, liberals can’t be shocked when their new pets reveal ugly tendencies or hidden fangs. After Beck got tired of his pro-BLM ploy, he went back to casually reinforcing white supremacy—as evidenced by the employment and incubation of Tomi Lahren. If nothing else, Lahren’s TheBlaze suspension, accompanied by Beck’s catty accusations of intellectual dishonesty, proves that Beck’s flirtation with empathy, self-awareness, and liberalism was short-lived.
There’s a world in which Beck responded to Lahren’s abortion about-face with a touch of pride. After all, Lahren—who has compared BLM to the KKK and ordered Colin Kaepernick to “sit down”—is taking a page from Glenn Beck and Megyn Kelly’s playbook.
Lahren starred in her own series of charmed encounters with SJW’s last December, doing an interview with The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah and meeting with The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne Tha God. By ostensibly making nice, Lahren began to push herself away from the political fringe. One might argue that Tomi’s unexpected admission on The View was actually a natural progression of this mainstream move. Now Lahren, like Megyn Kelly before her, is a free agent destined for a reinvention and a raise. As The Daily Beast’s Erin Gloria Ryan wrote, “It’s only a matter of time before a show that needs some buzz buys out [Lahren’s] contract at TheBlaze and takes her from Facebook to daytime TV, or to nighttime TV, or to another level of ubiquity.”
Kelly and Lahren might be cashing in on intellectual dishonesty, but Beck—a man who moonlighted for The New York Times and then went back to denouncing BLM and raising up alt-right mini-me’s—is equally hypocritical. Now it’s up to liberals not to fall for another “newly rational conservative” song and dance routine. Just as Glenn Beck is still Glenn Beck, Tomi Lahren will always be Tomi Lahren—and no amount of Christmas sweaters or ideological flip-flopping should convince you otherwise.