A couple of years ago, Tomi Lahren was a fresh-faced white blonde woman from an affluent family with some fairly liberal viewpoints who, straight out of college, applied for an internship with One America News Network. She was handed her own talk show.
Today, she is a 24-year-old TV host for TheBlaze that specializes in staring vacantly at the camera and ranting hysterically off a teleprompter about how, say, Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance is a weaponized attack on white America. She has cultivated a considerable following overplaying the role of striking “white grievance warrior,” spewing racist excrement like: “The term unarmed black man may be literally accurate, but it doesn’t tell the whole story in most cases. In a number of cases, if the victim ended up being unarmed, it was certainly not for a lack of trying.”
Nonetheless, Lahren has been embraced by certain members of the so-called “liberal elite”—including The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, whom she counts as a friend. Enter Bill Maher. On Friday, the left-leaning political satirist welcomed Lahren as one of the guest panelists on his HBO program Real Time, thanking her for entering the hornet’s nest as a Trump apologist.
He began by listing some of the executive orders President Trump has signed in his first two weeks in office, including: selling guns to “the severely mentally ill,” allowing mining companies to “dump their toxic waste into a stream,” letting oil companies no longer “report the bribes they get anymore from third-world dictators,” and stripping a “fiduciary rule [that] prevented financial advisors from ripping off their clients” by acting in the customer’s best interest. Then he posed a question to Lahren: “I guess my question is, [Trump] was all about helping the little guy. This looks like special interest stuff. How does letting a coal company dump the sludge in the river help the little guy?” “The forgotten American,” rambled Lahren. “The coal industry has been attacked. Obama went to war against the coal industry and they saw massive declines, and they were on their way out the door. Look at the American worker. We need to take a minute, take a step back and realize…” “Even if we allowed coal,” interrupted Maher, “why allow the company to dump the sludge in the river?” “It’s a more complex issue than that though, and some of this regulation was doubled-up upon as well,” mumbled Lahren, clearly uncertain in her half-baked answer.
Later on in the program, the panel debated President Trump’s first military operation as Commander-in-Chief: a failed Yemen mission that resulted in one dead American soldier, a dead 8-year-old girl, and countless other civilian casualties. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that the raid was planned on the evening of Jan. 25 during dinner between Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a 35-year-old real estate developer; Steve Bannon, a failed documentary filmmaker and former overseer of the alt-right website Breitbart News; and security and intelligence officials.“US military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations,” reported Reuters. “As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced Al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger-than-expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.
“It was a huge fuck up,” said Maher of the op. “Now, I’m not saying that was all Donald Trump’s fault—although it doesn’t look good. But if it was Hillary Clinton, this would be the new Benghazi. This would be Benghazi times ten.”
Lahren seemed to half-heartedly agree. “So we shouldn’t talk about intentions. You’re right—on the left, and the right. We shouldn’t,” she muttered incoherently. “I would also agree that if Hillary did this, there would be a backlash from those on the right and they would say it was the second coming of Benghazi, and I agree with you.” “So you’re saying Benghazi was bullshit? That they blamed it on Hillary?” asked Maher. “No. I’m saying it would have been unfair to peg this on Hillary,” Lahren replied.
Then Jason Kander, a Democratic Senate candidate from Missouri and former Army intelligence officer in Afghanistan under George W. Bush, chimed in. “No, I mean, you know pretty well y’all used the people who died [in Benghazi] as political chess pieces for quite a few years,” said Kander. “And you’re absolutely right. I agree with you that, if five days into her presidency, Hillary Clinton had made a decision over dinner with her son-in-law [Jared Kushner] and Steve Bannon to conduct a raid—forget the fact that he didn’t go through the regular interagency processes. I’m a former Army intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan, and I just think about—what if when I were in Afghanistan you had President Bush saying he wasn’t interested in receiving intelligence briefings [like Trump]. It just didn’t interest him that much. I’d feel terrible for the guys on the ground.” “But you also realize the president is not in charge of actually making military operations? It’s brought to him,” offered Lahren, again making little to no sense. “I’m sorry… what?” said a confused Kander.
The wildest exchange came towards the end of Real Time, when Lahren was asked about Republicans’ bizarre preoccupation with “reverse-racism.” “Two-thirds of Republicans agree that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against minorities. Do you agree with that?” Maher asked Lahren. “I think that there’s certainly an element of division that needs to be addressed, yeah, as evidenced by UC Berkeley the other night. I do think that there’s… there’s certain issues in society where we’re becoming more divided, and it’s not just blacks against whites or whites against blacks, it’s all of us against each other. And it’s toxic,” she replied, unintelligibly. “But that’s not what I asked,” said Maher. “This says two-thirds of Republicans said that discrimination against whites is as big a problem as whites against blacks. Are you part of that two-thirds?” “As we sit here today, I do think that there is an element of racism against white individuals. I do see it,” said Lahren, to gasps and laughter from the studio audience. “That is fucking crazy,” fellow panelist Rick Wilson, a conservative columnist for The Daily Beast, shot back.