TheBlaze, Glenn Beck’s stumbling multi-platform media network, faces an uncertain future after the apparent dismissal this month of Tomi Lahren – who until now was seen as conservative media’s rising star – after she expressed pro-choice views on live TV.
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Lahren was “banned permanently” from appearing on TheBlaze after declaring herself pro-choice on “The View” last week, the New York Post reported this weekend. The 24-year-old broadcast journalist was one of the network’s few crossover stars, having parlayed her viral political rants into digital fame and a high-profile debate with “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah.
According to media experts, Lahren’s departure comes at a critical time for TheBlaze. Beck’s site garnered just eight million unique visitors in February 2017, down from 21.5 million unique visitors in March 2014, according to comScore data.
TheBlaze’s decision to part ways with Lahren could be Beck’s attempt to re-establish his brand as a leading conservative voice at a time when the longtime pundit and radio host is drawing criticism for his public opposition to President Donald Trump, Mark Feldstein, a professor of broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland, told FOX Business.
“Perhaps Beck thinks presenting differing views somehow dilutes his conservative brand or alienates his audience,” Feldstein told FOX Business. “Then again, Beck himself has risked alienating his audience by his vocal anti-Trump stance, including on the liberal Samantha Bee comedy show. So Lahren's doing the same with her off-message comments on The View isn't unprecedented--unless only the boss is allowed such heresy.”
TheBlaze and Beck’s representatives did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment. Attempts to reach Lahren were unsuccessful.
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Lahren was initially suspended earlier this month after she essentially told panelists on “The View” that she supported legalized abortion.
“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,” Lahren said at the time. “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."
For Lahren, an apparent dismissal from TheBlaze’s platforms is likely a temporary setback for a promising career, according to Jonathan Albright, a professor of media analytics at Elon University. Lahren’s personal Facebook page has more than four million “likes,” while her videos have garnered tens of millions of views.
Albright suggested that Lahren’s appearance on “The View,” coupled with the news that President Trump personally called to express gratitude for her support after an appearance on FOX News’ “Hannity,” could mean that Lahren is aiming to reach beyond the traditional conservative base.
“Tomi’s own Facebook is her primary channel, and I’d argue that she no longer needs The Blaze. In fact, as has been shown quite clearly, her association with The Blaze may in fact be limiting her audience reach,” Albright said.
Jeffrey McCall, a communications professor at DePauw University in Indiana, said it is “really hard to tell” whether Beck’s decision was a move to solidify his brand’s ideology or simply a case of internal politics. In either case, Lahren’s departure isn’t a death knell for TheBlaze.
“I think The Blaze will be just fine with its core followers. The brand is bigger than just Tomi,” McCall said. “There are plenty of other bright, poised and photogenic commentators out there who can fill Tomi's role.”