Tomi Lahren has always seemed like a too on-the-nose parody of a conservative media star. Where others were tan, blonde, and young, Lahren is bronzed, platinum, and literally 24. On her nightly show on Glenn Beck’s the Blaze TV, her commentary wasn’t just “racially charged”; it was often openly racist. She “doesn’t see color,” and she hates all the right things, including “radical Islam,” Black Lives Matter, “Hollywood crybabies,” and “nasty feminist B.S.” And her shtick worked! She had quickly become biggest celebrity at the Blaze other than Beck himself. Last month, President Trump called Lahren to thank her for being nice to him on Hannity that night and for expressing her support for him on her own show during the election.
On Friday, however, one of the brightest—or at least shiniest—rising stars in right-wing media crossed one of conservatism’s historically brightest lines. Appearing on the View, Lahren declared that she is pro-choice. Her show was suspended indefinitely on Monday.
“I’m pro choice, and here’s why,” Lahren began. “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.”
The response from social conservatives was immediate and scathing. “This is not only the most illogical reasoning I’ve ever heard, but stupid, even dangerous,” Nicole Russell wrote in a 1,400-word takedown on the Federalist. By Saturday, the Daily Caller was reporting that Lahren was “likely” going to be leaving the Blaze when her contract was up in September and could very well be out sooner thanks to her comments. Lahren’s colleagues were no more forgiving. Beck dissed her on his radio show over the weekend, saying you don’t have to be anti-abortion to work at the network, but “it takes intellectual honesty and a willingness to actually think these things through, and to do more than just read Twitter and Facebook to get your news and opinions.”
Blaze reporter Kaitlyn Schallhorn subtweeted the day after Lahren’s appearance on the View:
Even Hillary Clinton didn't call pro-life conservatives hypocrites.— Kaitlyn Schallhorn (@K_Schallhorn) March 18, 2017
Another Blaze reporter posted a smackdown via Bible verse:
There is no "my truth." There is only the truth. pic.twitter.com/dDdItnPDbp— Kate Scanlon (@kgscanlon) March 18, 2017
As recently as Dec. 22, Lahren was referring to pro-choicers as “straight-up babykillers” and to abortion as murder. A few weeks earlier, however, she told the New York Times she was pro-choice. What changed? Oh, who knows. Like her fan in the Oval Office, Lahren values a telegenic brand of unpredictable “authenticity” over any particular core values. As she tweeted the morning after her appearance on the View, “I speak my truth. If you don’t like it, tough. I will always be honest and stand in my truth.” By Tuesday morning, she was framing her suspension as an opportunity for womanly empowerment.
The Federalist called Lahren’s flip-flop “opportunism,” but at first glance it wasn’t clear what opportunity she was taking, other than another quick spin in the news cycle. Her comments may have been nothing more than a Kinsley gaffe, an accidental revelation of her real opinion, which would be unsurprising for a not-particularly-religious college-educated twentysomething. It’s easy to imagine that she, like Trump, has simply not thought much about abortion as a policy issue. As Lahren told a Daily Caller podcast in October, “Abortion is not one of those issues that is most important to me.”
But now that social conservatives are abandoning her en masse, it’s interesting to look at the few prominent people on the right who have spoken up to defend her. There are traditional libertarians, who approve of Lahren’s limited-government explanation for her views. But there’s also the alt-right. Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes quickly called her “an asset to our side.” And here’s white nationalist Richard Spencer on Sunday:
Spencer’s tweet links to a piece titled “The Pro-Life Temptation,” on a new-ish alt-right website where he serves as an editor. The essay argues that the pro-life movement is “dysgenic”—as opposed to eugenic—and that being opposed to abortion contradicts the alt-right’s appreciation for for Nietzschean superiority. “In a world with reliable birth control, it is quite easy to avoid an unwanted pregnancy,” the essayist writes. “The only ones who can’t are the least intelligent and responsible members of society: women who are disproportionately Black, Hispanic, and poor.” In other words, the right fetuses are being aborted, so why interfere? On Monday, Spencer published his own essay on the site: “Why Tomi Lahren Is Right on Abortion.”
If Lahren lands on her feet at Fox News or elsewhere, it will be worth paying attention to who she’s speaking for.