Tomi Lahren: The Republican star, 24, whose right-wing viral rants may have helped elect Donald Trump

Her videos on Facebook often get more views than the President-elect's. Steely, focused and uncompromising, she couldn't care less if you hate her 

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Tomi Lahren is most comfortable when she’s right at the centre of a storm of controversy she deliberately whipped up. 

The pugnacious right-wing host from South Dakota is best known for her viral rants on conservative network The Blaze.

Lahren is only 24, but her influence on social media is palpable. She is one of the rising stars of the right who have emerged from Mr Trump's election campaign, a Facebook celebrity born from his 'I don't do political correctness' stance and from hires such as alleged white nationalist Stephen Bannon. Like Mr Trump, Lahren is embraced by proponents of the right for her unwavering apathy to causing offence.

The conservative commentator’s likes and dislikes are like everything else in US politics of late: polarised. She hates liberal “crap”, positive discrimination, “self-righteous kneelers” like Colin Kaepernick, "so-called feminists", “victim mentality”, has no time for the Black Lives Matter movement and is only emboldened by anger. Her passions are Christianity, the US police force, Make America Great Again hats and the so-called Blue Lives Matter movement. 

An ardent Trump supporter, a man she praises as a “warrior”, she was one of the loudest voices urging voters to get out to the booths and elect the billionaire business magnate. Notably, her videos are sometimes viewed more than those posted on Mr Trump's own Facebook wall. 

The fury her anti-refugee, anti-Muslim and anti-feminism diatribe elicits doesn’t faze her. But it does boost her following, which currently stands at 3.5 million on Facebook alone. Like her Republican hero, her conviction and refusal to back down is a huge draw for her followers. They also believe she would be a great addition to Mr Trump’s team: “Hey Tomi, thank you very much for everything you did to help get Trump elected. You had a big hand in it. Well done young lady!”

Her rants are delivered in rapid sentences with scarcely a pause for breath, her steely gaze never moving from the camera. She isn’t afraid to quite literally shout over her opponents during debates. 

“Your truth and common sense in a person your age these days is refreshing!” says one woman from Ohio in a comment on her Facebook page. “Yes I am older. Keep on showing young women how its really suppose to be done!”

But while her fanbase is across a range of ages, Lahren’s target demographic is clear: millennials. 

Her most provocative segment each week is Final Thoughts, where she memorably lambasted Bernie Sanders, Justin Trudeau, Kaepernick and President Obama as “sacks of crap” for mourning the death of Fidel Castro. 

Kaepernick has been a repeated target for Lahren after the American footballer kneeled during the National Anthem in protest against police brutality. Her take on his demonstration lacked any sign of the empathy shown by many across the US as issues of racial injustice were brought to the fore: “What’s your message to black kids, to people of colour? That their biggest contribution to justice and self-fulfilment is to parade around with a chip on their shoulder like a victim? 

Colin Kaepernick

“Colin, how dare you sit there and blame white people for the problems in minority communities. After all, aren’t you half white?”

It is hard to ignore the parallels between Lahren and Sarah Palin, a friend to both Mr Trump and Mr Bannon and another figure being lined up for a place in the President-elect’s cabinet. 

Like former Tea Party darling Palin, firebrand rhetoric is key to her appeal. And like Palin, she uses simple but incendiary language to inflame anger among her supporters at the latest purported liberal “BS” or oversight from the “mainstream media”. Her comments are peppered with “babe”, “ya'll” and “dang-sure” and she strongly identifies as the daughter of the hard-working blue collar family Mr Trump claims to serve. But unlike Palin, who has a tendency to meander off into bizarre tangents ("you rocking rollers, and holy rollers!", anyone?) Lahren’s addresses are tightly focused and have a clear subject and direction, which goes some way to explaining why her appeal is so broad. 

<em>Kris Connor/Getty</em> ()

Her most recent monologue about the attack on Ohio State University by a student highlights this. “In America, we are pretty damn sick of radical Muslims who bomb, stab, shoot, slaughter and run innocent Americans down with cars.”

Lahren believes digital broadcasts are the future and her mission is ubiquity: “I want to be everywhere.”

She has one defiant message for her critics: “Whether you love me or hate me, you’re still watching.”