Jeff Pearlman

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Tomi Lahren

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The host of "Tomi" on TheBlaze is a 23-year-old Internet sensation who recently bought a gun, considers Hillary Clinton a liar and created the #QueenHillary and #Obummer hashtags. So, um, we don't agree on much. POSTED April 26, 2016

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So a bunch of months ago, after I stupidly Tweeted that a bunch of female Fox News hosts dressed like hookers, Tomi Lahren ripped me to a shred.

She did so on one of her episodes of “Tomi” on TheBlaze, and it was fierce, merciless and pretty fucking impressive. That’s how Lahren operates: She picks a viewpoint, she zooms in on it and—BAM!—she picks it apart, piece by piece by piece. Do I agree with her takes? Quite literally, never. I mean, seriously, never, ever, ever, ever. But her largely conservative audience seems to love her, and with good reason. If communicating to the masses is a skill, Lahren has a PhD.

Hence, why she’s here today—explaining her dislike of Hillary Clinton, her skepticism over climate change, her love of her kitchen table. One can follow Tomi on Twitter here, and watch episodes of her show here.

Tomi Lahren, I hope your chosen candidates get demolished come November. But I also welcome you to The Land of Quaz …

JEFF PEARLMAN: OK, Tomi, I’m thrilled to have you here. Truly thrilled. And I want to start with why we came together: A while back I posted a r-e-a-l-l-y stupid Tweet criticizing some of the women on Fox News for dressing like hookers. It was a shit Tweet—and I’m genuinely furious with myself because A. It was hurtful and wrongheaded; B. Because it misrepresented how I feel. And here is, clearly, how I feel: Women and men are judged by completely different standards in televised media. Obviously there are exceptions, but there’s a ton of more pressure for women to look appealing, dress somewhat sexily, be young. Meanwhile, men can be Chris Berman, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless—and, with age, they’re simple deemed “experienced” and “having gravitas.” The double standard drives me insane, and I don’t think it has anything to do with left or right—it’s just men generally running a business. So … does this make me a dick? Do you disagree? Agree? And do you, as a woman in media, feel any of this?

TOMI LAHREN: Agree to a point. I am tired of being told I am a victim. There is a double-standard. Sometimes it works to my advantage, sometimes it doesn’t. My looks might help me snag a few views on my show.  If my appearance draws them in and gets them to listen to my message (I write every single word) then so be it. Television is a visual medium, that’s the way it is. Yes it is more difficult for women when the country seems to favor “young and pretty” over “old and experienced” but there are notable exceptions. Here are a few: Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Oprah, and Greta Van Susteren. I’ve been in TV and guess what—women run it. The largest shareholders may be old, white men but the producers, bookers, and talent recruiters are often women. I don’t want to be the woman that complains my ovaries hold me back. I want to be the woman that says, yeah there is an unfair standard and beating it everyday makes me more of a badass than my male counterparts.

J.P.: One more on the Tweet: So I wrote it. And I’m pretty much a nobody. Yeah, I have a blue check on Twitter. But I’m a guy who writes sports books. That’s it. And yet—the Tweet goes out and—whooooooosh! You’re a [fill in the insults]. Over and over and over. Tomi, I’m not asking as a left-right thing so much as a social media thing: How do you explain this? Like, why do people even care? And the intense anger? Is it real? Is it ever real? Or is it just who social media sorta makes us?

T.L.: Social media is a powerful tool. I know, I found “viral fame” on Facebook and YouTube. Here’s the thing: folks are tired of having so much to say and no place to say it. Twitter gives them the instant gratification of putting the “asshole” in his place. Also, the right-of-center folks are tired of liberals bashing their conservative outlets, especially Fox News. They have some kind of duty to protect their conservative warriors. I have my share of haters but more than that, my loving followers. It’s a blessing and a curse. I had a horrible day at work today, I Instagramed it and my followers made me feel better. That’s something.

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J.P.: You’re 23, you’re from Rapid City, you attended UNLV, you interned for Kristi Noem. But … how did this happen for you, soup to nuts? Was there a moment you thought, “Media!”? A moment you thought, “Conservative!”? In short, what’s your life path from womb to here?

T.L.: I like to talk. I’m pretty good at it. I also love politics. I studied journalism and political science at UNLV. No, not all Las Vegans are strippers.  Long story short, I was looking for an internship out of college. My first choice and now employer, The Blaze, turned me down. Oh well. I called up a new “conservative alternative” network, One America News. They didn’t give me an internship. They gave me a show. I built it from the ground up, and “On Point with Tomi Lahren” was born. I worked at OAN for just over a year when it happened. I went viral with my “Red White & Blue Unfiltered Final Thoughts” after the Chattanooga terrorist attack. Then my inbox exploded and my phone blew up. Now here I am, trying to get a show off the ground at The Blaze in Dallas. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again.

J.P.: I have a complaint about people like you. And Hannity. And Sharpton. And Matthews. And most political pundits. And it’s this: You hold the party you disagree with to ridiculous standards. Or, lemme say it this way: If, say, Paul Ryan had a Benghazi-type thing on his resume, you’d defend him, or at least not go after him the way you go after Hillary. If a sitting Republican president presided over 9.3 million new jobs (and I know you can debate the figure, but that’s not really the point of the question), you and yours would be raving about the economy and GOP policy. The Dixie Chicks speaking out against George W. Bush was treason, but Republicans questioning Barack Obama’s patriotism is fine and dandy. This is NOT about the content of your leanings, Tomi, but that it just seems you and others hold standards to one political viewpoint that you don’t to the other. Tell me why I’m wrong. Or right. Or both.

T.L.: You’re right. It’s called politics. I will say this; Republicans hold each other far more accountable than the Democrats do within their party. Ever heard of a RINO? There is no such thing as “DINO” because the Democrats rarely go after one another. For the record, I don’t dislike President Obama because he’s a Democrat. I dislike him for the way he’s treated our country. He is not the commander-in-chief I trust to lead my loved ones into battle. I don’t dislike Hillary because she’s a Democrat; I dislike Hillary because she’s a liar. I can respectfully disagree with many Democrats. I do it on my show all the time. I truly believe in the honest dialogue. I don’t talk over my guests, cut their mics, or try to make them look stupid. That’s not my game. I believe the better point will prevail. Watch my show, you’ll see.

J.P.: Greatest moment of your career? Lowest?

T.L.: The greatest moment of my career was my “viral final thoughts.” Not because of the fame or attention, because I meant every word and it’s nice to know it resonated. The lowest point was when I left One America. I don’t regret my decision but it was hard to walk away from the show I built. It felt like abandoning a child.

J.P.: There’s a phrase I see on Twitter all the time, and it drives me c-r-a-z-y: Libtard. Here’s why: I’m OK with “stupid liberal,” “damn liberal,” “asshole liberal”—seriously, whatever. But Libtard—the merging or liberal and retarded—just seems to cross a pretty nasty line. Thoughts?

T.L.: I don’t like it either and don’t use it. It’s an insult to those with mental handicaps. It makes me laugh but I don’t think it’s appropriate. Yet, Twitter will be Twitter. I much prefer the hash tags I created, #QueenHillary #BO #Obummer and #CuddleTerrorists.

J.P.: I’m fascinated: How do you think the presidential election winds up? I know you want a Republican to win. Totally get it. But who will win? How will it go? [JEFF NOTE: I asked this one before Rubio suspended his campaign]

T.L.: I hope it’s a Hillary-Rubio showdown. Marco Rubio is my candidate because he can win. Enough said. For so long the GOP has been the party of old, rich white men. Well, correct me if I’m wrong but Hillary meets three out of four. As I said in my controversial CPAC speech last year, “If the pantsuit fits, male too?” I don’t understand how the American voter could elect Hillary Clinton in confidence. She may be indicted for goodness sakes! Yet, this is the same electorate that voted for Obama a second time. The reason is low-informed voters. I say it all the time, I ‘d rather our voters be passionately liberal than ignorantly neutral. Don’t vote for Hillary because she’s a woman (barely). That’s not good enough.

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J.P.: So you’re clearly intelligent, informed, etc. I just don’t get why conservatives are so skeptical of climate change. I’ve heard the silly stuff (“Well, first you called in global warming—and now this?”) and the Al Gore jokes (can’t argue—he’s become ridiculous). But the science is, at this point, really strong. Doesn’t it make sense to take all the precautions we can—if nothing else, on the side of safety? Also, as a Christian, don’t you think it’s simply right to keep God’s creation as clean as possible?

T.L.: Here’s the deal Jeff—it’s possible to be a common sense conservationist without blaming the coming apocalypse on SUVs and coal. We need to protect the earth but to say humans are the major cause of “climate change” is not scientifically agreed upon. I believe in innovation and energy alternatives. However, I also believe in jobs. Fracking is God’s gift to American energy independence. Let’s find a way to innovate our extraction process, not blame fossil fuels for every drought or rain cloud. I also don’t trust the EPA to do it. They are in the business of grant dollars and regulating puddles.

J.P.: During one of the GOP debates you Tweeted, “The Second Amendment is not a suggestion! Thank you @marcorubio.” I know where you stand on guns, but I also wanna know what you think we should do about all the gun violence. Do you genuinely believe more armed people=a safer society? Because, statistically at least, more guns in homes=more dead people in homes. Should there be any restrictions? None? 

T.L.: Jeff, when radical Islamic terrorists start abiding by our guns laws then we can talk. Until then, this is garbage. Do you really think some maniac (Christian or Muslim or whatever) is going to be stopped by an inability to buy a gun? I believe in the gun laws we already have. They should be enforced. It just so happens that the FBI often fails. That’s what bureaucracy does. I didn’t own a gun before the San Bernardino attack. I do now. The reality is, wackos and jihadists will find a way. When they do, I’ll be armed. Further restrictions only neuter law-abiding citizens.

J.P.: I don’t get the appeal of Donald Trump to the rural white voter. Do you? If so, can you explain?

T.L.: I get it. Americans are angry. Many feel ignored. Many feel they can’t even speak any longer without being labeled a racist, bigot, homophobe or sexist. Donald Trump says the things many frustrated Americans want to hear. We have a president who seems more concerned with Muslim sensitivity than name, rooting out and eliminating the problem of radical Islamic terror. He won’t even say it. We also have many Americans who are tired of illegal immigrants taking advantage of our pitiful border enforcement. Isn’t it time Americans are owed more in this country than illegal immigrants? Countries cannot survive without borders. I ask this: Do you lock your doors because you hate people outside? No. You lock your doors because you love the people inside and want to protect them. That’s why we have borders. Most Republicans feel this way. Donald Trump says it and says it louder.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH TOMI LAHREN:

• Rank in order (favorite to least): “Orange is the New Black,” Michael Keaton, Carson Palmer, clams, Rush Limbaugh, Tim Duncan, “The Martian,” Janis Joplin, MMA, Toronto, your kitchen table, Jill Biden: My kitchen table, Carson Palmer, “The Martian”, Rush Limbaugh, MMA, Michael Keaton, Tim DuncanJanis Joplin, Toronto, Jill Biden, “Orange is the New Black.”

• Five all-time favorite Democratic political figures: Really, Jeff? LOL! I actually had to Google this because none came to mind. 1) Jim Webb—he’s not actually a Democrat in my opinion; 2) Bill Clinton (when he was moderate); 3) JFK (because he asked people what they could do for the country, not what it could do for them); 4) Howard Dean (because he makes me laugh); 5) Bernie Sanders (because he has no shot at winning but his heart is in the right place)

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Yes, actually. The day after Christmas my plane from South Dakota back to Dallas was diverted to the lovely town of San Angelo, Texas due to tornadoes. We got off the plane, got back on, flew in a holding pattern. I don’t think we should have been flying. I saw lighting bolts out the window. I did meet some great people on that plane. We ordered pizza at the airport. Not a bad night. At least there was food. Oh, and I’m alive.

• Being serious—Obama calls. He says, “I know we disagree, but I’d love to invite you to the White House for tea with me and Michelle.” A. Do you go? B. Are you cool? C. Could you have fun hanging with a prez you so strongly disagree with?: I would go in a heartbeat. Here’s why, the office of the president is honorable regardless of the name or party ID. Also, I would ask the tough questions. I would be polite but firm. I don’t think someone like me has ever questioned him. I can have a fun conversation with anyone, even BO. Maybe Michelle can unveil what’s so great about turnips—again.

• One question you would ask Scott Stapp were he here right now?: When’s the band getting back together? Awkwardly—because I barely know who he is. I’m 23, remember?

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Reince Priebus both make me want to punch a wall. How do you explain their status as party leaders?: Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the most polarizing, shrill woman I’ve heard after Queen Hillary Clinton. Reince Priebus might not be perfect but at least he recognizes the problems in the GOP. Schultz just rags on about how racist and sexist she thinks we are. All talk. No substance. She’s got a tough job though. How’d you like to defend the socialist and the liar? Ouch.

• Three memories from your senior prom: 1) My boyfriend was a jerk but he was a jerk for six years, what can I say? Live and learn; 2) It snowed. Yes, in April. Welcome to South Dakota; 3) My boyfriend’s parents actually asked me to step aside so they could photograph him, alone. Real winners.

• How many days in a row can I wear the sleep pants my mother in law bought me for Chanukah before it gets sorta gross?: That would be a two-day maximum on that. Please tell me you don’t wear sleep pants in public. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. If I have to put on real pants, so do you, bud.

• Explain your name, please: Yes, Tomi, like the boy’s name. No my parents didn’t want a boy. They like unique names. I used to hate it. In fact, I used to tell people it was “Tami” when I was little. Now, I love it. It might be a boy’s name but you’ll never forget it. Drawback, when I go to grab my cup at Starbucks the whole place looks at me like I’ve stolen some dude’s drink. Ugh.

  • Ted Mark

    “The reason is low informed voters.” Oh, the irony. Say “Hi” to Marco next time you see him, Tomi.

  • Al Moore

    F her and her ridicule for all things D. Belongs on Faux News, and she realizes theres only one (or two?) reasons she is on there

  • Mary_Shelley

    I love that she likes to come off as a free-thinker and a straight-shooter, but she just spews the regular talking points.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life