On Wednesday evening, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah sat down with Toni Lahren, a right-wing, online video host for The Blaze, to discuss her fiery opinions about Colin Kaepernick’s protest, the Black Lives Matter movement, and liberal thinking. Although Lahren was an unusual guest for The Daily Show, she and others like her, are the people Noah should really be talking to.
Since the November 8 election, the United States has been arguably more divided than ever. Donald Trump’s election day upset came as a shock to liberals and conservatives alike, but left-leaning people are still reeling from the results.
This, in part, is due to the evolution of news and media that people choose to expose themselves to. In the age where most people get their news from social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, consumers are able to cherry-pick the news they want. This cherry-picking creates an echo chamber of opinion, forming a distorted view of reality for citizens on both sides of the aisle. It is also the mechanism that allows right-wing sites like Breitbart and other fake news organizations to thrive on reporting misinformation to the masses.
Lahren isn’t known for directly reporting untrue claims, but she is a mouthpiece for right-wingers, much like Ann Coulter. However, on Lahren’s show, Tomi, the host makes her mark by delivering her unabashed opinion about divisive topics in the United States. Most of these topics, including San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and the “right” way to protest, were discussed during Lahren’s interview on The Daily Show.
The important thing to realize about Lahren is that she is an outlier in the conservative media zeitgeist. She certainly espouses some of the same opinions as the right, including demonizing Black Lives Matter and generally hating Hillary Clinton, but she is young, angry, and the left doesn’t have a media entity that is comparable to Lahren’s fury or message.
Rolling Stone reported that Lahren said anti-Trump protesters were, “crybabies with nothing better to do than meander around the streets with their participation trophies and false sense of purpose.” Although her opinion is just that, an opinion, liberals have often pulled punches when it comes to debate with Republicans and right-wingers. Tomi has always taken up the mantle of combat, even if it’s a fight she can’t logically win, just like her interview with Noah during The Daily Show interview.
Hillary Clinton quoted Michelle Obama during the second presidential debate saying, “When they go low, we go high,” in response to a barrage of insults launched by her opponent Donald Trump. That’s fine, but that clearly didn’t win her the election and it’s not making life easier for liberals across the country. Lahren blatantly disregards composure and civility in her “Final Thoughts” segment on The Blaze, and liberals could stand to learn a lesson from Tomi, not in her message, but in her delivery.
Noah has hosted numerous guests since he took up the reins of The Daily Show, but much of the time he is also playing into the echo chamber effect. Before the election, Noah and his team created a Halloween episode depicting a dystopian universe based on Trump winning the presidency. At the time, the episode touched on some key concerns by liberals, including Trump’s sexual assault allegations, but approached the reality of a Trump presidency with a cavalier, mocking attitude. Now liberals are in that dystopian universe with no means of escape.
Instead of propagating the selective news liberals and conservatives want to hear, more hosts, TV shows, and news organizations should follow Noah and Lahren’s example. The pair engaged in a lively debate that caused both of the hosts to trend on social media sites and actually forces people on both sides of the aisle to hear what Noah and Lahren had to say.
Noah called out Lahren for her numerous specious comparisons on her show Tomi, but Lahren also had a chance to defend herself. Although Noah and Lahren’s interview was extremely lively, there was no antagonism on Noah’s part. As for Lahren, she stuck to her persona, remained staunch in her opinion, and genuinely tone deaf in her response, but this interchange may be the portal to expose American citizens to other opinions, even if they disagree.
According to Huffington Post, Lahren opined during the interview that, “Because I criticized a black person or the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t mean I’m anti-black. It doesn’t mean I don’t like black people or that I’m racist,” she said. “I don’t see color. I go after Hillary Clinton and she’s as white as they come.”
Lahren was saying something that many Trump-supporting Americans expressed after the election. People who aligned with the Republican party bucked at the idea of being called “racist” even though Trump espoused racist ideology. After the election, Trump even promoted Steve Bannon, an expressed anti-semite.
However, Noah offered a counter argument to Lahren during the interview.
“You don’t see color?…There’s nothing wrong with seeing color, it’s how you treat color that’s important.” Both Noah and Lahren represent two different schools of thinking and without demonizing each other they both managed to engage in a relatively civil dialogue.
In a perfect world, Lahren would realize she had no justification for her claims when confronted in the interview and be forced to reevaluate her thinking. Realistically, this most likely won’t happen. However, moderates or buyer’s remorse Trump-supporters could see Noah’s interview with Tomi and realize that they had made similar claims to Tomi and rethink their position.
Noah and Lahren’s interview is not the catalyst for widespread social understanding in the United States. However, it is an important step in acknowledging people who think differently than you. Since the election, many people are willing to put blinders on and wallow in their blue or red community, but that simply isn’t possible if people’s peer groups are agreeing with each other all the time.
Instead of pundits yelling at each other, networks, television shows, podcasts, and news articles should engage in a healthy repartee of different ideas and opinions. This is admittedly very difficult because people will always think that their opinion is right, but Noah and Lahren delivered an example that it can be done. The interview wasn’t perfect, and Noah notably had more supportable points than Lahren, but engagement is the key to unifying the country, not bullying by one side or the other.
Since Noah and Lahren’s interview, social media has debated who actually “won” the conversation. Although Noah’s audience clearly thought he was in the right, even booing Lahren at parts of the interview, the point is that the ability to have a conversation without taking sides should be an option, not a competition.
After the interview, Lahren posted on Twitter, “To my fans: Trevor Noah is not a douche or a jerk. To Trevor’s fans: I’m not a b-tch or c-nt. We are people with opposing views. That’s it.”
Although Lahren went on to defend her interview, her point remains salient. Even though we disagree, we will only learn through discourse. Two media personalities may not admit to learning something from the other, but individuals on a day-to-day basis have a lot to gain from trying to educate each other.
[Featured Image by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP Images]