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New Fox News star Tomi Lahren was a dud on 'Hannity'

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
Tomi Lahren joins Fox News as a contributor. (Fox News)

On Wednesday afternoon, Fox News made a big deal in announcing it has hired right-wing firebrand Tomi Lahren as a regular contributor, saying she will discuss the news on the network’s opinion shows and work on “an FNC digital product currently in development.” (No source will confirm the rumor that Fox’s new “digital product” is two tin cans and some string.) In her mid-20s, Lahren is frequently put forward as the new face of conservative media: fast-talking, slangy, and hip to social media — with over 4 million followers on Facebook, she’s your cranky uncle’s favorite young person — so it was only a matter of time before Fox signed her.

Making her contributor-debut on Hannity Wednesday night, Lahren wasn’t given a very attractive showcase. After Sean Hannity delivered what he called his “very important opening monologue” about “the destroy-Trump media” and had Sebastian Gorka on to sputter that he’d resigned, not been pushed out, from the Trump administration, Lahren was consigned to the distant second half of the show and paired with Geraldo Rivera to debate that oldest of Fox News obsessions: Hillary’s freaking email server. “Go after Geraldo!” commanded Hannity. “Take him on!” Just what Fox viewers like: a blowhard guy telling a young woman what to do.

Lahren — who didn’t even seem to be in the same Fox studio as Hannity or Rivera, and was thus reduced to a jabbering head — took the subject (“FBI Declines Request to Release Clinton Emails,” read a helpful chyron) and, as is her habit, made it all about Tomi: “I have a few friends who spent a few hours in Benghazi who would really like to know what’s in those emails,” she asserted. This was worth a puzzled question from Hannity (like: “Really?”), but he stayed silent. Lahren wasn’t about to be interrupted anyway: “How about if we make a deal: How about when the mainstream media stops covering Russia day in and day out, maybe we can drop the Hillary email scandal? But until then, I think I’m gonna stay on it.”

Geraldo made some noise about Hillary’s emails being boring old news, but he was there primarily to say that Lahren has “intelligence… and true grit: Welcome aboard.” I wonder how welcome Lahren really is, however. With her machine-gun speech delivery, irritatingly frequent use of “here’s the deal,” and “freakin’”-this and “freakin’”-that, and her general inability to converse with other human beings, Lahren is not a warm TV communicator. She is, however, highly telegenic, which may be enough for Fox News.

Lahren has appeared on the network a number of times before — Hannity has booked her, and you can see Bill O’Reilly in 2016 welcoming Lahren on his show about as warmly as he’d greet a starved mongoose here. Earlier this year, Lahren got some attention and some sympathy when she was fired from her staff job on Glenn Beck’s little internet rodeo The Blaze — because she told the ladies of The View that she’s pro abortion rights. But Lahren doesn’t accept acceptance well: Her preferred mode is hectoring hostility. Her Facebook page houses many of her trademark “Final Thoughts” monologues, full of invective about Black Lives Matter, Colin Kaepernick, and “social justice warriors,” all delivered in her rapid-fire, tedious monotone.

Who knows? Maybe Lahren will loosen up sufficiently that she’ll soon be substituting for Ainsley Earhardt and chuckling along with the chuckleheads on Fox & Friends — isn’t that how Tucker Carlson got his primetime spot? But it’s going to be interesting to see how many primetime spots Lahren gets on Fox before the hosts start complaining to their bosses about her no-let-me-talk self-interest and go back to just booking nice old Geraldo instead.

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