Tomi vs. Trevor: A Facebook Frenzy

Tomi Lahren, host of the show “Tomi” on Glenn Beck’s network The Blaze, is a political pundit who dubs herself champion of the “fly-over states.” Her 1-to-3-minute monologues on a certain issue du jour rack up extraordinary numbers of Facebook shares and YouTube hits. Lahren propelled to the top of Facebook’s algorithm last week after her appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” spurring reactions from fans and critics alike.

The 25-minute interview between Lahren and Noah clearly resonated with the public, as it received 13 million views on the late-night show’s Facebook page and garnered over 192,000 likes.

 

 

In the interview, Lahren gives input on some hot button issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement, Donald Trump’s defamatory comments towards women, as well as the validity of burning the American flag as a form of protest.

Students seemed particularly likely to share the video with their friends. Some thanked Noah for having a civil, and much overdue, conversation while others turned the debate into a competition in which Noah was the winner.

There was also a large group who were ashamed of the rhetoric Lahren posts on her platform, and wanted to share the video to educate their Facebook followers, especially those that have more conservative political opinions.

Robyn Bradley was one of many Facebook users who felt compelled to share the video.

“I personally have been growing annoyed with some of my Facebook followers who think that Tomi is a [legitimate] source of news, or that she knows what she is talking about,” said Robyn Bradley, 20-year-old from Green Brook, New Jersey.

“I have a lot of Facebook Friends who are viewers of Tomi and I want them to see the other side of the picture,” said Kristine Moise, a sophomore at The George Washington University.

“Now you’re not just talking to people. You are forced to have a conversation, and these were questions that I would ask if I ever got to contact Tomi.”

“The Daily Show” has a typically young and liberal audience. With the current political environment being so polarized, some were surprised to see Lahren and Noah sitting at the same table.

“When I saw the photo of the two together, I was genuinely shocked,” said George Washington University sophomore Gabby Kopf.  

To some, this interview was a preliminary step in bridging the gap between the left and the right. To others, the interview was a representation of the deep disconnect between the right-wing Republicans and the left-wing Democrats on social and moral issues.

 


“As I watched, I not only could I feel the tension, but could also, so blatantly, see the lack of understanding from both sides,” Kopf said. “People on the left and people on the right just genuinely cannot comprehend the other’s thought process.”

 

Many who shared The Daily Show piece felt Lahren’s comments were inflammatory, and applauded Noah for pulling his punches with such composure – a distinct change from the angry rhetoric that was prominent during the past election cycle.

“Trevor Noah literally danced around her with facts and used his comedic skills to fight her ignorant comments,” said Robyn Bradley.

The success of this interview on Facebook begs the question: Is social media the place to find common ground?

Facebook sharing promotes interaction – especially now that people can like a post, as well as express love, anger, and sadness among other emotions. Through sharing videos like the Lahren-Noah interview, the Facebook audience has been exposed to personalities and opinions, like Lahren and her views, that they may have never encountered otherwise.

“I shared the video on Facebook because after watching the video I learned more about why Tomi Lahren feels a certain way about many topics,” said Samantha Garcia, a New Jersey student at Raritan Valley Community College. “If I didn’t watch the video I’d still be judging her very harshly.”

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