Column by Dylan Doyle, contributing writer
The research is clear – we need more women in media.
A large percentage – 62.1 percent, to be exact – of all news in 2014 was generated by men, and higher positions in media are even more likely to belong to men, according to the Women’s Media Center. This disparity between men and women is getting better with time, but very slowly, almost certainly because young girls aspiring to be journalists and media personalities have a plethora of excellent role models, like Rachel Maddow and even Samantha Bee.
They also have a very good example of what not to be in the form of Tomi Lahren, host of her own show on “TheBlaze,” where they apparently have something against using the space bar. Lahren is a conservative political commentator by trade and a vocal Trump supporter, but let us not go too far down that rabbit hole.
You have likely read and formed your own opinion about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s controversial refusal to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but long story short, he sat out the national anthem in a show of solidarity with those African-Americans facing discrimination by police and other groups.
What you may not have heard: Megan Rapinoe, member of the 2015 World Cup-winning American women’s soccer team, came out in support of Kaepernick. Rapinoe plans to kneel during the anthem for the foreseeable future because, as a gay American, she relates to his experience.
As you may have guessed, Tomi Lahren had a thing or two to say about Rapinoe’s actions. Since Lahren has built a career on pandering to the alt-right and prattling her ill-informed opinion under the guise of real news, this is not altogether surprising – Lahren is definitely not afraid to tiptoe the line of acceptable speech. That being said, she crossed that line during her rant about Rapinoe.
“Hey Megan, do you know what they do to women and gay people in many countries around the world?” Lahren rhetorically asked. “They stone them and throw them off buildings.”
Just so we are all on the same page: yes, Lahren is actually saying LGBT Americans should be grateful for a government that refrains from murdering them. As should people of color, presumably. Since this country is not as antagonistic towards minorities as it could be, the American justice system is completely absolved of any wrongdoing.
An analogous situation: I hit a pedestrian with my car. In court, I show the jury a picture of a serial killer. The jury finds me not guilty because someone else committed a worse crime once upon a time. This logic is completely faulty.
Tomi Lahren appeals to the extreme nationalism which characterizes the far right – the kind of blind pride in one’s country that reacts viscerally to any and all criticism of that country. When minorities in America take a stand against injustice, she sees it as disrespect towards the military and first responders and refuses to hear another word. Instead of acknowledging her own privilege and attempting to think about other perspectives, she takes any perceived anti-American sentiment personally and counterattacks with venom.
I hate to imagine a little girl seeing a Tomi Lahren video and thinking that women have to spout vindictive bile to be in the media. I hate to imagine anyone agreeing with Lahren’s point of view, much less idolizing her. But what we show our children matters. What they see on their screens matters. Mass media is a very large and very important stage, and we need to think very carefully before we give people like Tomi Lahren a microphone.