To the Ladies of The View,
I love yinz. As a kid growing up in Western Pennsylvania, my early exposure to cross-the-aisle political debate was watching Meet the Press with my Dad, and The View with my mom. I loved my sick days in high school watching Elisabeth and Joy debate the Iraq War, gun control, recession, or tax breaks. The debates were lively, yet civil ― at least most of the time! They reflected the debates I was having with my conservative family members. Like in my life, your debates got heated and sometimes personal, but you had boundaries.
I’m not against bringing opinions on the show that typically aren’t represented by the hosts. This is great! Bring on people who have some facts, talk about values, and have a civil conversation. Have a heated one even! The problem is, sometimes TV shows like yours invite the most extreme cable and Internet personalities, who then tone down their extremism for mainstream television.
This phenomenon is called “normalizing.” It is deeply troubling to our civic discourse.
You see, Tomi Lahren has made a living not off of telling-truth, reporting, or even well-rounded arguments. She makes her living off of anger. She has equated Black Lives Matter with the KKK, blamed Beyonce for “ripping off the Historical band-aid” of racism (which apparently doesn’t exist), thinks Trump’s Muslim ban isn’t a Muslim ban because it doesn’t ban all Muslims (is the Holocaust not anti-semitic because it didn’t kill all Jews?), touts being pro-choice on your show but bashes peaceful women marching on Washington as dwelling on problems and victimhood, but then dwells on how Obama won’t call ISIS “Islamic Extremists.”
“Three months ago she was talking about 'baby killers' like Lena Dunham.”
Now, when you invite her on your show, she breaks character as the female version of Alex Jones and suddenly appears like a younger version of a genteel Kellyanne Conway. Her tactics on your show were the same as Conway’s ― deflect questions and go back to blaming Clinton or Obama. She paints herself as being hated by everyone, but this clearly is not true because she gets viewers and ratings. I don’t hate Lahren and we might share moments of political common ground if we sat down and had a normal conversation over cupcakes Trevor Noah sent. We are both pro-choice... well, she is newly pro-choice as three months ago she was talking about “baby killers” like Lena Dunham. We care about what happens in the heartland. BUT, I do feel that she and her ilk are deeply damaging America’s political discourse by making it angrier, fueling victimization (“equal hate from all sides for me”), and encouraging unnecessary combativeness.
Now, many passionate yet fact-driven citizens (like you and me, Joy!) both know that Lahren’s opinions are grounded in InfoWars-level propaganda, but her viewers don’t see that. Say you bring her on with the intent to expose how ridiculous her views are; actually, you invite the unintended consequence of normalizing her views instead. Hosts like Trevor Noah might have thought that by inviting Lahren on his show, he would illustrate just how looney toons her debating points were when placed against facts. Unfortunately, Trevor Noah and also Bill Maher produced the opposite results: many people who love Lahren will never stop to hear talking points beyond their angry echo chamber. That is not a place one goes for news or debate points against liberals — it is a place to go get hyped up on nationalist caffeine. Lahren fans will just see their extreme views become more acceptable when they become acceptable enough to air on ABC.
I expected more from the producers and especially hosts like Joy. I love you, Joy, and I saw the pain in your eyes as you tried to keep it together. But I wanted you to go in. I know you wanted to go in. Barbara Walters, where were you when we needed you most!?
You closed the segment saying “We don’t bite.” That might be true, but Lahren has made her career and fame by biting people every, single episode of her show. You had this opportunity not to bite, but to drop some truth. (I was waiting for someone to bring up health care reform, the emoluments clause, or Trump’s infidelities and lawsuits for sexual assault!) Instead, you let her slide. Most of the American public, which is dreadfully misinformed on basic civics and media literacy, will not know that this blonde girl-next-door was someone who got famous from blatant misinformation on politics, the suffering of black Americans, how social movements work, or why people were marching in the Women’s March. She will begin to look normal.
“Lahren has made her career and fame by biting people every, single episode of her show.”
Now that Tomi is off The Blaze for coming out as newly pro-choice, I just hope that mainstream media does not take this as a sign they must bring this “Deplorable Renegade” into the fold simply because she does not tow the party line. This would be a grave mistake. Her one differing opinion from Glenn Beck should not brand her with the halo of free-thinking conservative. It does not take away everything she has said to become internet-famous.
My parents took me out of my local school district in high school because the opioid epidemic had already begun in 2004, so I too know a little bit about the pain or feeling of isolation in white America. But as a fellow white middle-American, I made a very different choice than Tomi. I did not want to make my career by capitalizing on the worst in the American psyche, by exploiting and amplifying pain or anger, by making white middle-America feel like they are complete outsiders that everyone politically hates. Instead, I chose to do a deep dive into the working world of technology and media, before also concurrently starting a PhD studying social and historical factors contributing to the political polarization we witness in our government and media. Surprise, surprise. Lahren-types are part of this problem. Someday I hope to bring my research background to a media career in front of the camera, but I do not want to settle for blinding-anger. I want to inspire understanding, knowledge, vision, and hope.
If you want a twenty-something former raised-libertarian and liberal convert who knows a little bit about patriotism, polarization, and political participation (and has her own humble Internet show on Facebook Live and now Youtube), someone who didn’t get famous for Internet anger, maybe you want to have me on your show.
Your faithful fan since 1997 ―