Full Transcript: Tomi Lahren on 'The Carlos Watson Show'
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because she's a rising star on the right.
By Daniel Malloy
The Fox News personality joined OZY’s co-founder and CEO on a recent episode of The Carlos Watson Show. You can watch the episode here, and below is a full unabridged transcript of their conversation.
Carlos Watson: Tomi, where’d you grow up? Where are you from originally?
Tomi Lahren: I am from South Dakota.
Watson: Oh my, actually one of the few states I’ve not been to yet. I had a good friend, Olaf Sorensen, who was from South Dakota, and we went to college together. To prove to me that Boston wasn’t very cold, he would wear shorts and he would wear no socks every day, no matter how cold it was. He would say, “It’s way colder in South Dakota.” Is South Dakota really that cold? Is it as cold as he advertised it?
Lahren: In the winter, it can get pretty cold, but North Dakota, that’s the one you got to watch out for. North Dakota is the Fargo real cold. But South Dakota, it’s a lot cooler than Nashville, Tennessee. I’ll tell you that.
Watson: What’s the difference between North Dakota and South Dakota in terms of weather and kind of tone and kind of energy? Does one have one reputation and one has another?
Lahren: Well, South Dakota is of course known for Rushmore, that’s where I grew up. We’ve got a lot more hills and it’s just a different landscape. Whereas North Dakota is pretty flat. Of course, they’ve got their shale and the oil boom. So, they’ve got some great natural resources, but it’s pretty flat and it’s pretty cold. In South Dakota, we’ve got a little bit more protection from the Black Hills. So, it’s a little bit more touristy in South Dakota, as well a little bit more to see.
Watson: Interesting. So, North Dakota is the cold, richer cousin, richer at the moment because of the shale money. South Dakota is the more tourist-friendly, slightly better weather, historic Mount Rushmore spot.
Lahren: Yup, you got it.
Watson: Interesting. OK, all right. Well, I’m definitely going to have to go. Tomi, I think we’re almost ready to get started. Guys. Are we ready to get started? OK, no problem. No problem. Thank you. Yup, is this good? Alright, thank you. Thank you. OK, OK. Tomi, welcome to the show.
Lahren: Thank you for having me here in my kitchen of all places.
Watson: Where are you right now?
Lahren: I am in good old Nashville, Tennessee, Music City.
Watson: I love Nashville. Are you eating what we call chicken there yet? Have you discovered hot chicken?
Lahren: I have. We got Hattie B’s right around the corner and it did not disappoint. Nashville’s got some great food. I mean, really in the South, you can’t go wrong with food, but Nashville, they got some good food here.
Watson: Now how does somebody from South Dakota end up in Nashville? How did that happen?
Lahren: I’ve been about everywhere at this point. I spent 18 years of my life born and raised in South Dakota. I went to school in Las Vegas. Then I went to San Diego and started my first show at 21 at One America News, which has recently gotten a little bit more popular and some more headlines around it, of course, given the president’s affinity for it. But after San Diego, I went to Dallas, Texas, and I was at TheBlaze for a couple of years until that went up in flames. No pun intended.
Watson: No pun intended.
Lahren: And then I moved out to Los Angeles. Yeah, so we went from Dallas, Texas, to Los Angeles. I was there for about three years. You know what? I, like so many people, decided that I needed to flee California. So, now I’m back in the South, trying Tennessee out.
Watson: Interesting. Again, I’ve really enjoyed Nashville a couple of times that I’ve been there. What made you choose Nashville? Did you have friends or family, or were you just adventurous enough to give it a try?
Lahren: For me, I like moving [to] a new place every few years. I think it’s great to meet new people, and you get more of a diverse perspective on the country. In every place that I’ve been, I’ve learned a lot from. Let me tell you, I learned a lot in Los Angeles, California, but come to Nashville, a lot of great folks here. It’s a little bit more conservative, but you still have plenty of liberal thought here. So, I like to be around a little bit of everything, but it felt like it would be a good home. I think it’s going to be a great place to be, plus no state income tax, which I got to say is a huge deal for me.
Watson: Not that. Now what about Los Angeles? Because Los Angeles, Hollywood, good weather, beaches nearby, two great basketball teams. What’s not to like in LA?
Lahren: How much time do you have?
Watson: Uh-oh, OK, OK.
Lahren: Here, listen. California is a beautiful state. It truly is, and there are so many great people there. But for me, I wasn’t going to do the taxes. I wasn’t going to do the overregulation, the homelessness crisis, the illegal immigration issues that are facing California being a sanctuary state as well. All those things adding up, it was just time to go. There are unfortunately so many people that are finding that same thing. That California is kind of just unaffordable for most people, and that’s why they’re heading to Texas. They’re heading to Florida and they’re heading to Tennessee.
Watson: Interesting. Now, Tomi, did you start life out as a conservative or did you end up there as time went along?
Lahren: I’m one of those original conservatives. I know that there are so many on the scene now that have recently been red-pilled, but I got to tell you. I grew up in a conservative place, but more than anything, to me what conservatism really is, is it’s just that hardworking background. People that want as little government as possible, and they want to maximize freedom. That’s how I grew up, to very blue-collar parents, both coming from ranching backgrounds. Neither one of my parents went to college. My grandparents, I had a grandfather that didn’t even make it past middle school before he started ranching. So, those are just kind of my roots. To me, that really lends itself to having a conservative school of thought.
Watson: Now, what was young Tomi like if I had met her 15, 16 years old in South Dakota? Was she quiet? Was she loud? Was she headed for television and politics? Was she headed for something else? Tell me about this woman.
Lahren: My mom always says that the best way to describe me is relentless, and that’s how I’ve always been. But I’ve always had a mouth on me, I’ve always had an opinion. I’ve always been somebody that likes to share that opinion. Whether people like it or not, it’s always been the way it is for me, pretty direct.
I feel like I have a knack for speaking up for what I feel, not only the silent majority, but the forgotten Americans who come from places like where I come from. That’s really why I wanted to get into TV and have a political opinion that was on a large platform, because I feel like there are not many people from where I’m from that are representing the people that I grew up with and the state that I grew up in.
Watson: So, if I had met you in high school, you would have told me that you wanted to do television and do political commentary on TV?
Lahren: Yes, sir. I was either going to be a lawyer, a lobbyist or do this. I was blessed enough to get this opportunity at a very young age, but I’ve taken every opportunity that’s come my way. I’ve worked really hard and I’m so blessed to be here. But I always tell people you can get anywhere you want to be even from a small town in South Dakota — you just got to want it more than anybody else, and I definitely did.
Watson: What about your folks? What kind of work did they do? Did they have a strong interest in politics that fed part of your ambition?
Lahren: My parents both have very blue-collar jobs. Like I said, they both grew up on ranches, working from a very young age. We’re talking get up, feed cows, go to school, come home, feed cows, do homework, go to bed. Both my parents grew up that way, but my mom is a loan officer at a bank. My dad does building management for Target Corporation, and neither one of them have ever been political or in the political scene.
For me, what really ignited my passion for what I do is watching [the] news and watching mainstream media and feeling like mainstream media was kind of just skipping over Middle America more than I wanted to see. So, I figured the best way to make sure we represent Middle America and families like mine is to get into the business. So, that’s really what motivated it.
Watson: Interesting. When you got your first big break, was that in your mind One America TV? Was that more TheBlaze? When in your mind did things really start to take off?
Lahren: Well, I hosted a political roundtable show back at UNLV, but from there, I was determined to get an internship. I actually applied for an internship at TheBlaze, [but] they turned me down. Then I found One America News, and they were an alternative to Fox News and another kind of startup conservative network. I love a startup. I love being part of something and building something. So, I went to One America News. I was fortunate enough to do a screen test, and the owner felt like I had some political opinions that might be kind of fun to put on air.
Lahren: So, I moved to San Diego before I even walked in graduation. I never even walked. I just picked up my diploma and headed to San Diego and started that first show. I did a little segment at the end of the show called “Final Thoughts,” which I do to this day. They got some viewers and some followers. So, it was a great start, very blessed to have been where I was at the right time.
Watson: Talk to me a little bit about Kristi Noem, because you interned for her. Is that right?
Lahren: I sure did. I was her first intern when she was elected to the House in 2010 when we had all those kind of Tea Party conservatives swept in. I was her first intern, but I learned very quickly that I don’t want to be a politician. I just want to talk about politicians and talk about politics, but that side of the game really wasn’t for me because I had way too many opinions. It was hard for me to be quiet.
Watson: Wait, but no, say more about that. Would you run for office or you’re saying you would not run for office?
Lahren: I guess I’ll pull a Donald Trump there and say, “If my country needs me at some point.” I’m only 27, so I’m going to be 28 next week. So, I’m far too young. But at some point, if I feel like my country needs me, then maybe I’ll step into that role. But to be honest, I really just love holding leaders and politicians accountable. I feel like I have a great voice to do that. So, I’m going to be in media for as long as I can be.
Watson: That’s so interesting when you say that. I do think that’s such a critical role of holding people in power accountable. What do you say to the criticism of people who will say you might be too young to do that well?
Lahren: I say you [can] never be too young.
Watson: You may not have enough life experience. Not if people are just trying to knock you, but if they’re trying to be substantive, serious, legitimate. They say, “No, that’s a real thing, but you don’t have enough life experience to really do it well.” What do you say when you hear that critique?
Lahren: Well, for me, would people prefer I wait until I’m in my 30s or my 40s to have an opinion? For me, it’s not about age, and of course, we’re all going to gain life experience. I’ve learned a lot just in the last five years of my life alone. I mean, I’ve gone through a lawsuit with a major network. I have been at several different networks, had several different roles, different jobs, met so many different people, been on many different shows, been beaten up by the left, the right. So, I’ve learned a lot. I expect in the next five years, I’m going to learn even more.
Lahren: But for me, it’s about giving my perspective on things that are happening. At age 27, I feel like I might offer a different perspective on what’s going on than some of the people in the industry that are older and have more experience. My age group right now, I mean, we’re going to surpass the baby boomers. We’re going to be the largest voting bloc, and we need to have a voice. There’s a lot of voices on the liberal side. There are not so many on the conservative side. So, I think I fill that void.
Watson: Talk to me a little bit about some of the issues that matter most to you. What are some of the issues you think should be front and center as the country tries to think about where we head to from here?
Lahren: I’m one of those very America First type of gals, and that’s why I’ve been an early supporter of Donald Trump. But for me, I’ve spent a lot of time at the border. I’ve had the opportunity to go to the border several times and actually embed with Border Patrol and see what their daily activities are, see what they’re facing. I’ve gone on ride alongs with ICE agents in Los Angeles. So, for me, immigration is probably my number one. I think it’s so important for the future of this country. Last summer, it was obviously a very hot topic. This summer, it’s been trumped a little bit by other things. But immigration to me is one of the major issues facing our nation. It’s going to reshape our nation in years to come. So, it’s something that definitely needs to be talked about.
Watson: I know it’s a complicated issue but summarize for me how you think about what we should do there. Do you think there should be, as the late John McCain and others talked about, more bipartisan work to allow people who are here and trying to build a life here to remain here and have a path to citizenship? Do you think that there’s something different for the particular young people, the so-called dreamers, that we should do? How do you think about a couple of those subtopics?
Lahren: So amnesty is a dirty word to me, but I will say this, I think that there are many folks even like myself that are very hardline, immigration hawks that would be open to having conversations about what we do for the 10 to probably 20 million people who are in this country illegally. Those are conversations that are going to need to be had. I am not one of those people that believes you can deport 10 to 20 million people. I understand that that’s not a reality.
However, in order to even have that conversation, for me and others who feel the way I do about the border, we have to have a secure border. We have to make sure we’re taking care of that first, because we can’t take 10 to 20 more million illegal immigrants in this country. We just can’t handle it. I often look to a lot of the communities in Los Angeles, New York and really all around this country that are even minority communities that are already underserved. That’s a big topic in this country right now. I look at how they’re being burdened by the millions of people that are coming in, who have no legal right to be here, and it’s a conversation that needs to be had.
So for me, secure the border first, then let’s have a common sense and hopefully bipartisan way to figure out what we’re going to do with those people that have been living here and make sure that they are treated respectfully and constitutionally, but also that we’re taking care of America first.
Watson: Tomi, I ask this as a question rather than make this as an assertion: How much do you think race is playing a factor in this conversation? Do you think that if, for example, we were talking about people coming in from Canada, who were predominantly white, that the conversation would be different? I don’t just mean with you, but I mean, with lots of the folks who weigh in on this.
Lahren: I really don’t. For me, I don’t see illegal immigration as a race. I see it as an activity. So, if people are coming into our country from wherever they’re coming from in large numbers illegally, that is a problem. We have a lot of folks that are coming in from Mexico, from Central America. Of course, we saw the influx last summer. They are escaping countries that quite frankly have failed them. But to just bring them to our country and put them in the shadows and tell them that they don’t need to assimilate, they don’t need to adopt any type of American customs, ways, values, language, I think that’s putting them at a disadvantage as well.
So, I think we need to look at illegal immigration as an activity, but I think we also need to make sure that we’re protecting the very people that some claim to want to help. Because having them come into the country and live in the shadows and have jobs that they are overqualified for, I don’t think that’s the American Dream. I really do want that for everybody that comes here legally.
Watson: Sorry, you said that they’re overqualified for?
Lahren: I don’t think that the American Dream is coming into this country, living in the shadows, having to have the constant fear of deportation, and being a landscaper or a house cleaner. If that’s what you want to do, that’s great, but I think that there are many people that come to this country that could do far more. They could truly live that American Dream and be whatever they want to be, but unfortunately, because of the way our immigration system is, because we have so many people coming illegally, those that are coming legally or illegally unfortunately, that is the best it’s going to be for them is living in the shadows. I think there’s a better way.
Watson: But Tomi, not just you, even if you say, “Hey, I’m serious about this issue, I think it’s an important issue. I care about the people who are here, the people who are coming. I’m also thinking about our laws,” etc. Do you think that a number of the folks, not talking about yourself, who are very active on this conversation are motivated by race, and that they would fundamentally treat this conversation differently if the people we were talking about weren’t brown-skinned, but were white?
Lahren: I really don’t. Of course, there are going to be people with various opinions out there, but I can tell you that me personally, I can only speak for myself, it’s not a race issue. I don’t think for a lot of the folks that are talking about the problem of illegal immigration, I don’t believe it’s a race issue for them either. I think anybody coming into our country in large numbers from another place illegally is a problem, but we also have to talk about merit.
We have to talk about putting America and Americans first, especially right now. We need to make sure that the people that we’re bringing in, we need to have an immigration system that prioritizes merit over family connections and family ties, because that’s how we’re going to make our country better for Americans and for illegal immigrants. That’s how we keep our country strong and make it this beacon of hope that so many want to come to.
Watson: Then what do you mean when you say merit?
Lahren: Merit, I mean, when we’re looking at our immigration system and our quota system, we’re looking at how many people we can take in, looking at people that can come that are skilled labor, people that have education, people that can come and fill the voids of work that we need done. Of course, there’s going to be a lot of jobs for unskilled labor as well, but right now, and we’re facing a pandemic, with so many Americans out of work, I’m also one of those people that’s a big supporter of this president’s executive action regarding federal agencies and contractors prioritizing Americans and legal green-card holders over foreign workers. That’s just a conversation that needs to be had, especially [since] we’ve got unemployment over 10% right now. The conversation is vastly different than it was even last year.
Watson: Tomi, who’ve been your best sounding boards and mentors over the last couple years as you’ve built this career in politics and policy analysis?
Lahren: I have a lot of great colleagues at Fox News, of course, but for me, I don’t really look to people in media to be my role models. I don’t really look to politicians to be my role models. I’m one of those people that I love talking to Border Patrol agents. I love talking to police officers. I love talking to plumbers, to ranchers, to electrical workers. So, the average American that I feel doesn’t have as big of a voice as they need to in this country, those are the people that I really gain inspiration from, and those are the people that I want to absorb information from.
Lahren: Because you can listen to somebody on TV all day, you can listen to you or to I all day, but I want to know what the people are feeling. That goes for really any community, any race, any gender, and that goes for different schools of thought as well. I love having conversations with those that are far more to the right or to the left of me. I think that’s an important conversation to be had.
Watson: Who impresses you? Which of the politicians or political commentators would you point [out to] other people who don’t follow politics as closely as you do? Who do you think is interesting or thoughtful that people should keep their eye on?
Lahren: I’m a big fan of a lot of the folks on our channel. I love Laura Ingraham. I think that she’s a kick-ass, badass woman. So, I love listening to her and I love following her. Ann Coulter, although some people hate her. I love people that tell it like it is. So, I like Ann Coulter’s style. Michelle Malkin, I think that she tells it like it is. To me, there are so many conservative women out there that have such a strong voice.
When we’re looking into politicians, right here in Tennessee, I’m so blessed because my now senator is Marsha Blackburn who I had the opportunity to sit down with last week and I think that again another badass conservative woman out there representing. I love to listen to her, and I love to learn from her.
Watson: Tomi, how do you think the president is doing? If you were to score his presidency so far, how do you see it?
Lahren: I’m a big supporter and a big fan of this president, not because of who he is or what he says, but because [of] what he’s done for this country. Of course, we know our economy was doing so well. Now we’re in the midst of a pandemic, I still think that he is working hard to make sure Americans get back on their feet. I love what he’s done in terms of immigration. I wish more could have been done. Of course, it’s a little bit difficult when he’s been obstructed at every turn by the left and by the right. I’m a big critic of those rhinos that we’ve got serving as well.
Lahren: But I think this president has done a wonderful job. I don’t think he’s been given the fair shake that he deserves. I don’t think that he’s been given the media coverage that he deserves. Part of that is probably because he is a little bombastic and a little aggressive. Love him or hate him for it, I do think he’s done great things in leading this country.
Watson: How have you thought about what’s happened with COVID? Do you feel like he’s handled the response to that?
Lahren: Well, I think he has. Of course, this is difficult. This is difficult for any president. Any president facing what this president has been facing this summer, when it comes to COVID, when it comes to race relations, when it comes to an economy that was up here and it’s now gone down here, I think he’s handled it very well. But for me, the thing that I look to our president for leadership on and I actually want to see even more of it is I understand that we’re in the midst of a pandemic, I understand that we want to make sure that the most vulnerable among us are safe and protected, but we got to get Americans back to work.
I’ve always said living and livelihood are intertwined here in Nashville, in New York, in Los Angeles, in Ohio, in Minnesota, all over this country. Americans want to get back to work. I believe they can do it safely and responsibly, but I believe having these continuous lockdowns and shutdowns that have been imposed on us by our Democratic mayors is going to cripple people beyond the point of repair in some cases.
Watson: Interesting. You say it is by our Democratic mayors, I feel like I hear governors in Texas and in Arizona and in Ohio and other places concerned instituting face masks, closing things down. Why do you say Democratic mayors when it feels like we’re at a moment now where we’re clearly seeing across the country a bipartisan set of leaders saying that we’ve got too many deaths, too many infections, and we’ve got to close down? Why do you say Democratic mayors? It seems like it’s both sets of leaders who are saying this.
Lahren: When we’re looking to like Governor Abbott in Texas, obviously, Texas was one of the first to reopen and I think that he was wise to do that. I think he was wise [inaudible] Texas back to working, then we saw a spike in COVID cases. Of course, there’s a lot of pressure put on governors, especially in a place like Texas that’s red, but it’s becoming bluer by the day. I think there’s a lot of pressure, even here in Tennessee on our governor who of course is a Republican governor, but we’re seeing that all around the country. We’re seeing governors that are Republicans that probably want to get their seats back to work, but there’s so much media pressure. There’s so much fear porn that they are forced, and in many cases, I think to retreat.
I say Democratic mayors, specifically, I’ll talk about Nashville. We’ve got a governor who’s saying, “Yes, we should have face masks. We’re going [to let] the individual counties decide on their own.” We’ve got a governor here who implemented a 10:00 p.m. curfew for restaurants and has closed bars. I looked at that and I say that seems quite arbitrary to me, because you can get coronavirus any time of the day. You’re not more susceptible to it after 10 p.m. But what you are doing is you’re crippling a lot of these bars, restaurants, musicians, employees who want to get back to work. We’re seeing that as well.
Of course, California, we’re seeing that with a Democratic governor, but we’re also seeing it with a Democratic mayor in Los Angeles who’s saying he’s going to cut power to businesses if they’re not complying. I mean, those are the things that I’m seeing. Of course, we got Republicans doing it as well, but I see a lot of the problem coming from a lot of the Democrats that are really enjoying the power they have right now.
Watson: Tomi, can I push you a little bit? When I hear you say that, if I’m 100% honest, that sounds like talking points. It feels to me that a reasonable person looking at the situation will say the thing has only gotten worse. Everyone who tried to open up early has had to retreat. You have situations like Herman Cain in Oklahoma where he goes to a rally and clearly, he and lots of other people get sick and even die. It doesn’t even feel like it’s partisan anymore.
So, I worry that when I hear you say that and when I hear other people say that in a matter of life and death, they’re veering into talking points in partisanship, instead of figuring out how to make sure we have fewer people die and fewer people get sick? How do you hear that critique?
Lahren: Yeah, no, I understand that. Of course, when we’re talking about something as sensitive as people’s health and their safety, it’s an important conversation. Coronavirus has to be taken seriously, obviously. We want to protect especially the most vulnerable, those who are elderly, those that have preexisting conditions, they should be taking more precautions. We want to make sure that they’re safe. We want to make sure that we are very mindful of that. However, I will say this, we’re seeing a lot of talk in the media about cases. We’re not hearing as much about recovery.
We’re not hearing as much about the survival rate, which is very high, but we are also not hearing about the toll this is going to take on people’s mental health, on their financial health, on their futures, on the children that aren’t going to be able to go back to school, the children that are not going to be able to go in and play sports, which in some cases was a lifesaver for them, was an outlet for them.
I think this is a multidimensional conversation, and I don’t want to push talking points. But for me, when I look at people that are truly struggling, we got to take coronavirus seriously. It’s a virus. It’s contagious. We got to make sure that we don’t have our deaths skyrocketing and too many folks in beds and not enough ventilators. But that’s the thing that I find most frustrating in this whole conversation is I think everybody was on board to flatten the curve, make sure we don’t overwhelm the hospitals. But then after that, we’re left asking ourselves, “OK, well, is now the point to eradicate the virus? Is now the point to wait until we have a vaccine?” because it’s not going to go away on its own, but people are losing everything they have. I think that’s a conversation that needs to be had as well.
Watson: Interesting. Tomi, I look at the job the president’s done with it, and without a partisan lens, I find it hard to see how someone could say that they think he’s done a good job. It’s a difficult situation. It’s multidimensional as you’re saying. There are lots of things to consider as you said, from mental health to school and quality education to economic livelihood, but it’s hard for me to think that that an open and fair person could look at what the president’s done here and say that that’s a good job. Do you really genuinely in your heart think he’s done a good job managing the response to this pandemic?
Lahren: I do. If you’ll recall, back when we knew that this was coming from Wuhan, this was coming from China, our president made the decisive move to stop travel. And then again, he did that with Europe. He did that with Italy. He was criticized up and down, left and right for being intolerant, for being bigoted, for being xenophobic. He made those moves when he knew [they] needed to be done to protect our country. In fact, I wish he would have done it sooner, but the media headlines were very different when he made those decisive actions to stop a lot of this from coming into the United States.
But I would ask folks that are critical of what this president has done and how he’s handled it, what would have been a better way to handle it? I haven’t heard a lot. So, I would ask you, what would you have done in the president’s shoes that [would’ve been] better [than] the performance that he’s given us?
Watson: I think the three or four things I feel like I’ve heard Dr. Fauci and other people say is one that they wouldn’t have identified it as Wuhan when, in fact, they found that the first large set of cases came from Europe. So, identifying the problem correctly is important. Secondly, I think they said they would have shut things down even sooner and not waited until mid-, late-March, or even April, to start acknowledging that. Third, they would have [inaudible] to a mask protocol, a really good way. Fourth, they think that they would have done more contact tracing.
Fifth, I think they outfitted the hospitals with what they needed in order to make sure that not only the essential workers were safe, but that they were actually able to increase the survivorship rate early on. I think those are some of the things that I’ve heard people say that the president didn’t do in January, February, March, April, and consequently caused a situation that he originally said would have 60,000 dead. Now, sadly, it feels like we’re on track to have four times that many people dead this year in the U.S. from it.
Lahren: Well, I would say that when you’re talking about going back to January. I mean, we were around Super Bowl time at [the] beginning of February. It was after that this president restricted travel and was still being called a bigot. But when we’re talking about not naming it from a certain place, we know that it comes from China, we know that that was the epicenter of it. So, saying that we would have been safer to call it by a different name because of political correctness, I throw that out the window.
But then talking about shutting things down sooner, again, I think that there are a lot of Americans like myself out there that look at a lot of things that are happening, a lot of shutdowns and a lot of the continued restrictions, we look at them, and we say, “Is this really for health and safety, or does it feel like more an infringement on our rights?” So, I think that’s a discussion that needs to be had as well.
But talking about face masks, I mean, here’s the thing, Fauci himself, initially, when we were worried about having a mask shortage was somewhat discouraging people from wearing masks in the initial stages, saying, “We need to save them for health care workers.” But then he did an about-face and said, “No, no, we all need to wear masks.” So, it’s very hard for the average American to follow this and trust this, but I can tell you this right now that we need to keep health and safety in mind. You and I are in agreement on that. I am very mindful of people who are going to lose everything and what devastating impacts it’s going to have on them. So, to say we should have shut down earlier and shut down longer, that’s something I just fundamentally disagree with.
Watson: Interesting. How do you think about people like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx?
Lahren: Yeah, I mean, I give them the immense amount of credit for the work that they’ve done. However, I do think that they look at everything from a very scientific perspective. It’s important when we’re dealing with a pandemic, but like I’ve told you, that is a huge part of it, but it is multidimensional. You have to look at the effects that it’s going to have on people’s mental health and on their futures, because we’re seeing a mental health crisis in this country already. We’re seeing an addiction and opioid epidemic in this country already.
Coupled that with people that are going to be out of work for months and months and months, who now can’t afford anything, don’t have an income, are reliant on a government check, you got to take that into consideration because that’s going to be lasting. That could last some of these people 5, 10, 15 years before they even somewhat recover.
So, I think it’s important to have other voices in the conversation. Science is important, but there are other elements to this thing that we need to talk about. To me, the shaming of people that talk about reopening and they talk about economic impacts, that’s something that’s really bothersome to me, because it matters to people. It really does. It matters to people that are not working and don’t see an end in sight to this.
Watson: Interesting. As I hear you say that, Tomi, I certainly agree that it’s a multidimensional problem. I think that the health of it all is foundational. I think that if we don’t limit the spread, actually, the economy is never really going to get back on a good track. I think [inaudible] are going to be physically scarred for a long time. So, while it’s a difficult problem, I think getting the health part of it is foundational. It’s like we have it on track for that. I’m not confident yet that we are, but interesting.
Where do you wish the president would have done different or better? Because your girl, Ann Coulter, for example, has told me and told others that whereas once upon a time, she supported the president quite strongly. That today, she feels like he’s ineffective, and she obviously uses much more difficult language than that. Have you gotten to the same place that she has? Are there things that you wish he had done differently?
Lahren: Well, certainly, I think we could all look at leaders and it’s very easy to be an armchair quarterback. Again, I think this president has done wonderfully given the hand that he was dealt. I’m sure Ann and I are both wishing that we would take more care of our border and border enforcement and go back to some of those things that the forgotten American cares about, but I think cornerstone to that really is getting the economy back on track.
Just going back to coronavirus a little bit, to me and to folks like me, it was very frustrating to see a three- to five-week hiatus in coronavirus coverage when the country was being looted, ravaged and burned. So, for a lot of Americans that are sitting home without a job because they were told coronavirus is so deadly and so dangerous, they couldn’t go to work, and then to watch the media do a complete about-face and not talk about coronavirus and focus on the protests and the riots that were happening on our street, that leads to a lot of frustration that I had and I know a lot of other Americans felt as well.
Watson: What do you think of the Black Lives Matter movement and the conversation around ending systemic racism and reforming the police? How do you think about that? Are these issues that are important to you? Are you glad that this conversation has emerged?
Lahren: We look at the BLM movement and we talk about ending systemic racism, I don’t think that’s what the BLM movement stands for. I think it stands for defunding the police. I think that its leaders have been very vocal about the fact that they have Marxist leanings. I think that’s very concerning. A lot of things that we’re seeing have not been handled well. When you have an organization that says, “If we don’t see the changes we want to see, then we’re going to burn this country down and build a new one,” that’s very concerning to me.
I don’t think that that’s productive. I don’t think that looting and burning and ravaging cities, I don’t think what happened in Portland, what happened in Seattle, what happened in Minneapolis, what happened in Atlanta, I mean, pick a city it happened, I don’t think that that’s productive in a conversation about racism or anything else. So, I have to largely discredit the Black Lives Matter movement, because I don’t think that it serves itself or its original mission very well.
Watson: But you realize that there are a lot of people who would listen to you and may be disappointed that as you look at the data, the discrepancy and how most Black people are treated versus white people in education, in health, in job opportunities, in startup capital, on and on, experiences with the police, that when I asked you about that, that your first reaction was towards the BLM organization or towards an issue here or there, do you feel like systemic racism is a fundamental and gnawing moral problem? If so, what do you want to see done about that, or do you think it’s not really a major issue?
Lahren: Look, when you say my initial response to that, well, that’s the response that Americans have been seeing in this country. We’ve been seeing the aftermath of the BLM movement, and that’s what we’ve been seeing. So, that’s obviously the first thing I’m going to because I’m watching the cities being burned.
Watson: Sorry, Tomi, I apologize. I didn’t mean to have us go down that court. What I’m asking you about very specifically is do you think that systemic racism is a meaningful problem in the U.S. today?
Lahren: I think anytime you talk about racism or inequalities, I think it’s a worthwhile conversation to be had. However, I don’t believe that Americans are nearly as racist as the mainstream media and some of our political leaders would have us believe. I think we are much more cohesive. I think we are much more tolerant and loving of each other than we’ve been led to believe. I think that there is a lot to gain by pitting us against one another.
When we’re talking about the numbers and the statistics, last year, 19 white unarmed men were killed by police compared to nine African American unarmed men killed by police. So, when we’re talking about the numbers, when we talk about a rampant police brutality, I don’t think the numbers support that.
Watson: Tomi, that’s interesting. I have to tell you that even as someone who comes to a conversation open, I don’t feel like you address the question of whether or not you think there’s a systemic racism in the U.S. Interesting, I would have wanted you to address that question. I think that question has got multiple dimensions to it.
So, you’re saying you don’t think that there’s a meaningful problem with systemic racism in the U.S. today. You’re saying when you look at the different health statistics, mortality rates, how often people get to see doctors, when you look at the different educational opportunities, when you look at the different job opportunities, when you look at startup capital, you don’t feel like there’s a meaningful statistical difference that’s attributable to racism and systemic racism. You don’t feel like that?
Lahren: I don’t think it’s a product of racism. I don’t. I think there are a lot of other factors in communities. We can talk about underserviced communities. We can talk about an education gap, a health gap. We can have those conversations and we can talk about inequalities and ways that we can fix them, but do I think it’s motivated by racism? Do I think that we have millions of Americans in this country who have a racist heart that seek to advance inequality and racism? No, I don’t believe that about my fellow Americans. I don’t.
Watson: Interesting. So, what did you see when you saw the cop with the knee on the neck of George Floyd or when you saw Breonna Taylor get killed or Tamir Rice or Eric Garner, any of those? You didn’t see a clear pattern of racism?
Lahren: There’s a lot of different cases there. There’s a lot of different variables in all those cases, but speaking about George Floyd specifically, because that really was what ignited everything, I talked about it several times. Everybody that watched that video knows what happened was wrong, knows that that went far too far, and that that officer needs to be held accountable for his actions, and I believe he will be. However, when I’m looking at law enforcement, do I think that an officer gets up every day and puts that badge on and that uniform to go on and advance their demented form of racism? No, I don’t.
I know far too many officers, and I also know from officers that the worst thing that can happen in the police force is a bad apple. The worst thing that can happen to them is to serve with a bad apple. It does nothing to help them and their jobs. It does nothing to help the communities that they serve. So, I don’t believe that our 700,000 sworn peace officers in this country wake up with racism in their hearts every day. I just don’t believe it. I know far too many of them to believe that.
Watson: But is the answer really zero sum? Is it either all of the officers are racist or none of them? Isn’t it possible that there are good officers, but that there’s enough officers who have the power of life and death who are motivated by racism and are clearly guided by that and provably so that it’s a problem? So, we can say you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but there’s a clear problem that everyone should acknowledge, and we shouldn’t pretend like there’s not a meaningful problem and pattern. You don’t think there’s a meaningful problem. There haven’t been enough cases for you to conclude that while lots of officers are good, we clearly have a problem.
Lahren: Carlos, I would also ask you this. You named off a bunch of names for me of those that have died at the hands of police, but I would challenge you to name one officer that’s died in the last year in the line of duty from anything. Americans and the demonization of police in this country, to me quite, frankly, is disgusting. I think we need to take each case, case by case, and those officers that face their day in court. It’s proven that they have done something wrong, they need to be held accountable for that in a fair and free trial.
I think that those that were involved in George Floyd, I think that they will face that. I think others that have done things wrong, whether intentionally or unintentionally, I think they need to face their day in court, and they need to be held accountable. But to say that officers, even the majority of officers, even many officers in this country, wake up with hate in their hearts, I just don’t believe it. Another thing I would say is right now the demonization of the police and the way people act—
Watson: Sorry, Tomi. Tomi, let me ask you, what would it take for you to believe that? So, no one’s saying all officers and no one’s saying a majority of officers, just like no one may say that a majority of banks are bad. No one may say that a majority of teachers are bad. But it’s possible that someone can say there are enough bad banks here that we need to think about changing the laws and changing the approach. Someone could say there are enough teachers here who aren’t meeting the number that it’s not OK. We’ve got to figure out [how] to change the approach.
What would it take for you to say that there are enough police that are acting badly, that are acting in a clearly discriminatory manner that we need to do something? What would it take for you to get to that place to say, “You know what? We got to do something meaningfully different here?”
Lahren: I think the bad apples again need to face and be held accountable for their actions. However, I would say to those that look at a lot of things that are happening and a lot of the incidents that we’re having and a lot of the problems we’re having with community policing, I think that that goes both ways. I think the demonization of police has a lot to do with it. I would also say to those that are a fan of BLM defund the police platform, that if you want police officers to be better equipped and better trained, the answer is not to defund them. The answer is to fund their training and make sure that they are equipped with the things that they need to be able to handle situations in a better way. If that’s a conversation that needs to be had, let’s have it.
However, I do not believe that there are enough bad apples to say that there is a problem in policing. I think that there’s a problem in funding. I think that there’s a communication problem. I think that there’s a cultural problem. I think that there’s a lot of variables that go into it that can be improved upon. But to say that we’ve got police officers out there running rampant, just going after people of color, you’re not going to get me to say it because I don’t believe it.
Watson: Interesting. You feel like you’ve studied it carefully and closely. You feel like even having studied the data from DOJ, Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson and others, you feel like in seeing that data, there’s not enough to convince you that there’s a significant problem here that that we should address in an organized way?
Lahren: I gave you the number earlier. Every incident needs to be investigated and discussed, but when I told you before that we had 19 white men compared to nine Black men, I would think if there was this huge problem within our 700,000 sworn police officers, you would have far more deaths and fatalities?
Watson: Where did you get that number from that there were nine Black men? Where do you get that number from?
Lahren: That was the number that was released in the report. If you go look at it, they did a great expose on it.
Watson: I’m not trying to play got-you here, but just so I get to hear you out, because that number doesn’t square with any of the numbers I’ve seen. I’m not trying to play got-you but help me out. Where did you see that number?
Lahren: Well, there’s been studies done and her name is escaping me at the moment, but she did a wonderful expose on the truth in policing. She brought those numbers and she brought the numbers of also the number of African Americans that are killed compared to the number that are killed by the hands of police. It was like .01% of African American deaths were at the hands of police. In fact, it might even have been lower than that. When her name comes to me, I…
Watson: Fair enough. I would check that. I’m not sure that’s right. In fact, I think that’s not right, but I would check that.
Tomi, if someone were to say to you, “One of the wonderful things about America is that we are a democracy, that there’s an opportunity for lots of people to participate in the process, that it’s intergenerational. It’s important that lots of different generations are in the conversation, but that we need to be open-minded. I’m worried right now that Tomi is one of those people who isn’t open-minded really, that she has a set of things that she believes, but she’s not really doing the homework and listening to multiple sides and digging in.” What would you say to that critique? If someone said, “I don’t feel like she’s ultimately open-minded. Not that she has to agree with one side, but that she’s not open-minded. She’s got a track, and she’s sticking to it.”
Lahren: Well, I wouldn’t be sitting here with you if I was closed-minded. I wouldn’t talk to many liberals who were obviously far to the left of me if I was closed-minded. I think what needs to happen in this country is a dialogue and a conversation. But when the dialogue leads down the road of police officer, bad, white people, bad, anything that goes against BLM, racist, the canceled culture, the labeling, the demonization of people who don’t agree with the left, I think that that leads to a lot of people saying, “Oh, well, they’re close-minded.” No, I’m just not going to tell you that I think police officers and those that protect and serve our communities are inherently racist. I’m just not going to say it, because I don’t believe it.
Watson: Yeah. I think part of the reason why I keep asking you the version of the question is because I find that when I’m asking you questions, I feel like instead of answering directly that you go to an outlier point. I’m certainly not saying I don’t think most people are saying or asking you to say that all police are bad. That’s not the point. But I think there is greater nuance to it, but I don’t feel like you’re adding that to your answer there, so. But be that as it may.
Tomi, talk to me a little bit about what you think’s going to happen in the election. Most of our modern presidents have won reelection. There’d been a couple of outliers whether it was Papa Bush or Jimmy Carter. What do you expect to happen come November?
Lahren: I would love to say that I am incredibly confident that our president will be reelected. I have a great concern about the mail-in voting and the fraud that comes along with it, and the mass fraud opportunities that come along with mail-in voting. I think that if Democrats are honest with themselves, they know that Joe Biden is not a viable candidate, couldn’t be a viable president, which is why Democrats are doing their damnedest to make sure that he stays hidden.
We just saw when he made a comment the other day, which I think that many people would probably take issue with saying that unlike African American communities, Latino communities think and feel differently about things. I mean, the man, I don’t believe is inherently racist, but he says some things that I don’t know how the DNC or the Democrats or any American voter can get around.
Lahren: I hope that they will see everything that Donald Trump did to bolster our economy before the pandemic. Hope they’ll remember that. Hope they’ll remember the man that puts America first. I hope that the silent majority will come out in numbers like they did in 2016 and give him a decisive victory. If you would ask me pre-coronavirus, I would have confidently bet on it. Now, there’s a lot of things surrounding the pandemic that concern me, but I’m still very hopeful and confident in our president.
Watson: Give me a percentage chance. What percent do you think that the president wins reelection?
Lahren: I think 75% chance he wins.
Watson: You think that high? You think three out of four chance that he wins?
Lahren: I do. I do. The only reason that to me it’s not higher is because I do worry about voter fraud. I lived in California for three years, looked into that a lot. There’s a lot of problems in this country. Now we’re going to see that model being expanded in other places around the nation with mail-in voting. I think we’re going to have a huge problem with it. I think it’s going to be a huge mess, a disaster. We aren’t going to have a decisive victory, and it’s going to lead to our country being torn apart even more.
But I do think that people will remember that this president has their back, that he puts America and Americans first. He fights for the silent majority. I think that conservatives are so tired of being demonized and so demonized and battered and shamed by the mainstream media and the Democrats. They’re sick of seeing their cities looted, ravaged, burn. I think they’re going to come out and they’re going to support the president that speaks for law and order and speaks for Americans.
Watson: Tomi, if someone heard you speak just now and said there’s no data to support mass voter fraud. If they walked through that with you, is there a world in which you would say, “You know what? There isn’t mass voter fraud. There may be fraud in lots of ways, but there certainly isn’t mass and meaningful and statistically significant fraud, and that that’s a scare tactic.” Is there any world would you look at the data—
Lahren: No, it’s not a scare tactic.
Watson: What’s that?
Lahren: No, because our secretary of state of California had to come out and fess up during the midterm elections that there were discrepancies, so he had to come out and fess up to that. Beyond that, when you have mail-in voting, especially in places like California, in that model—
Watson: Sorry, but the point here is I don’t doubt that there are discrepancies anytime you deal in the tens of millions or 100 million plus, there’s always going to be discrepancies. There’s going to be discrepancies if you deal with 100 of something. But when you deal with tens of millions, there can be discrepancies. But when you say that there’s mass voter fraud or there will be mass fraud such as it could swing an election, you believe the data bears that out and you feel like you’ve looked at all of these studies and you’ve looked at what’s happened in 2018 and 2016 and before and that there’s mass voter fraud.
Lahren: I’ll tell you this. Look what happened with just the Iowa caucus and how that couldn’t even be dealt with. And then imagine that all over the country having mail-in ballots, it’s going to be a disaster, and it’s going to open the door for fraud.
Watson: Sorry, there is a difference there between fraud and incompetence. Meaning, I agree with you watching the Iowa caucuses thing was a disappointment. That looked to me like incompetence, but that in the mind is different than fraud, right?
Lahren: I think you’re going to see fraud. I looked at the California example, because I voted in California. Luckily, I don’t have to anymore, but when you don’t have voter ID laws and when you automatically register anyone that goes to the DMV to vote and you allow non-citizens to get a driver’s license and you don’t require a voter ID to vote and you’ve got at least 2 million illegal immigrants and probably far more in California alone, yeah, I think you opened the door to mass voter fraud. I think it’s going to be a huge problem.
The reason that we don’t have to me substantive data on it that really shows the magnitude of the problem is because you’re dealing with California, you’re dealing with non-citizens. You’re dealing with data that I don’t believe is transparent. There’s been several lawsuits in the state of California alone that have sought to address that, and I think you’re going to see far more coming out.
Watson: That’s interesting to me that you’re focused on California state, which is clearly going to go Democratic. So, even if you are right about it, that’s not likely to have a meaningful impact on the presidential election. I mean, what would matter is if you believed that in Ohio where there’s a Republican governor that you thought there was going to be voter fraud, or in Florida where there’s Republican governor that you thought there was going to be voter fraud.
Lahren: Sure, what I’m saying is, I look at the California model of mail-in voting and if that is replicated elsewhere, which the Democrats hope that it will be, if that model that we have in California is replicated throughout this country, we’re going to see mass voter fraud opportunities. You’re going to see mass opportunity for fraud, because that is the model that is a poster child for what they want to bring to other states.
So, whereas I hope that it’s safeguarded in other states, I’m also not willing to look at California and say, “Well, if there’s fraud there, that’s OK. They were going to be Democrat anyway.” That’s not OK with me. I don’t think that we should be dealing with voter fraud in any way, shape or form. I think it’s a very serious issue.
Watson: Tomi, I’m going to shift topics a little bit. Tell me about your Fox News shows. I mean, as you said, it is such a special unusual thing for someone so young. I think you said 21 when you got your first show, even before you walked in your college graduation. To do that and to have successfully done that, not just at one network, but many networks is not a small thing. What have you learned about how to climb to the top and how to secure your own shows that you would tell younger people who also might want to get into the conversation?
Lahren: Absolutely. I’m glad you asked me that question, but I did remember the study that was done by the way that I wanted to reference because her name came back to me. Her name is Heather Mac Donald, by the way. So, take a look at some of the studies she’s done in truth in policing. That’s where I got those numbers from.
But moving on to that, for me, whether you’re a Democrat, you’re a Republican, you’re in the middle, you don’t quite care, for me, being able to get where you want to go in life has everything to do with confidence, and it has everything to do with perseverance and resilience. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been attacked by the left, been attacked by the right. I actually take pride in being attacked by both and having fans on both the left and the right, it means a lot to me. But in terms of what I do on Fox Nation and what I do at Fox News, I feel incredibly blessed to be where I am.
I think that digital and digital streaming platforms are the future of the way people consume news, media, and on all else. I’m really happy that I could be kind of on the ground floor of that, building it up at Fox News. I would tell people that if they want to get into a career like this, you got to have thick skin. You have to have rhino-thick skin, but it’s definitely worth it in the end.
Watson: Rhino, you mean true rhino. You don’t mean Republican in name only.
Lahren: Oh, no. I mean a rhino like a rhinoceros, not a RINO, not a Mitt Romney. No, no, a real rhino.
Watson: I’m going to leave politics and media for a moment. What do you do for fun?
Lahren: For fun, I live in Nashville, Tennessee, and I tell you, this is one of the funnest places in the country. So, I have a great group of friends here. I’m also a runner, I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s fun, but I do seven miles every single morning. That’s my morning routine, allows me to think, allows me to really put my life in perspective. It allows me to go out and drink and eat with my friends on the weekend. So, other than that, I really do just have fun doing what any other 27, 28-year-old would enjoy doing.
Watson: Do you find though that you have to probably be more responsible because you are in the public eye, or do you feel like you can be that same 27-year-old that most of your friends can be?
Lahren: I try to be. I’ve always been a real responsible person. So, I’ve never been one to really go crazy or do anything that wild, but I will say this. It’s much better since I moved to Nashville, but I always have to keep my head on this level. I’ve had numerous experiences where I’ve been shoved, kicked, had water thrown on me, had my friends yelled at, assaulted. I mean, you name it, just because I have the political opinions and beliefs that I have. So, it’s a little bit different for me when I go out and have fun. I always have to be aware and vigilant, but this is the career that I signed up for. I got to say to go with the band.
Watson: Tomi, look ahead for me 10 years from now, what would you love to be true? Where would you love to be? What would excite you to be true?
Lahren: I hope this country comes back together the way we did on September 12, 2001. I hope that we can all look at a direction that just sees a better and brighter America, that we can put America and Americans first and come together and believe in that. I think that that’s everybody’s goal or at least I would hope that was the goal for everybody. That we’re not sitting here in 10 years talking about racism. We’re not sitting here in 10 years talking about this partisanship that is so ugly in this country. I would hope we’re in a better place and a more unified place. I would hope that liberals and conservatives can agree to disagree and be friendly with one another, and we don’t have our political beliefs be the litmus test for friendship.
Watson: Wait, is that French for you will take Marsha Blackburn’s seat? Is that what you’re telling me?
Lahren: I don’t think so. Like I said, it would take a lot. Things can change a lot in 10 years or more. But for me, right now, I’m enjoying doing what I’m doing. I’m just blessed to be here.
Watson: Talk to me a little bit about life. I know that one of the things that so many of us [have] been thinking about in this COVID moment is family [inaudible]. You’ve had to make some tough decisions on that. Are you someone who wants a family? Are you someone who ultimately would love to find the right one there in Nashville, Tennessee?
Lahren: I don’t think I’m going to find him in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ll tell you that, but I’m enjoying life right now. I have a lot of great friends around me. I would love to have a family one day, but right now, I’m working hard. I’m having a good time. I’m living my dreams. I think that when you have a positive attitude and when you have confidence in yourself, everything else will just happen as it happens. So, if it happens for me, that’s great, but it’s going to take a lot to handle me. So, I wish whoever comes in my life the best of luck.
Watson: What about that though? I’m thinking about both women and men. Is it hard being in the public eye and dating? Have you found that tougher than it was kind of a pre having your own shows?
Lahren: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think it’s hard for anybody that has a career in this. I mean, you know as well, anytime you’re in the public eye or anytime that you have some level of “fame or infamy,” you always have to wonder [about] the people around you why they’re there. I think that’s why I have such a small and close group of friends, because you have to wonder who is there for the right reasons? Who’s there for the fame, or who quite frankly doesn’t want a part of the fame at all and just can’t handle it and doesn’t like the career?
So, it’s definitely difficult, but this is me and this is what I come with. My career and myself are a package deal. So, the person that’s going to enter my life and be able to handle all of that is going to be a really strong person, but I look forward to welcoming whoever that person may be.
Watson: Tomi, not just as you look at your own situation, but obviously your group of friends, do you think dating norms are changing for millennials versus maybe what it was for Gen Xers, etc.? If so, how? How do you think things are changing?
Lahren: Yeah, I actually did an Instagram Live video on this a little while back, PSA for Boyish Men, and I got ripped up and down by a lot of so-called conservatives for doing that. But it really is I think that the norms are changing. I think dating apps make it incredibly difficult to have real, stable, substantive relationships, because there’s so much temptation. There’s so many opportunities out there. I say it from a perspective of being a female, but I’m sure men have maybe the same issue.
I worry that my generation doesn’t value, value like we should, doesn’t value what someone can actually bring to the table as much as they value what appearances are on social media or what they can swipe on an app or the quantity of people they can be around. So, I am worried about that. I think that the apps and technology have a lot to do with that, but I do think that there are still people out there that have good old-fashioned values that value men, value women. I think there’s just probably a smaller crop out there to choose from that knows those things at least in their 20s and 30s.
Watson: Tomi, I want to finish up with a couple of rapid-fire questions, if you don’t mind. We’d love just the first thing that kind of comes to your mind. I may go all over the map a little bit. First question, how did you get the name Tomi and spelled as it is, T-O-M-I?
Lahren: My parents love boys names for girls, and they wanted me to have a different name. I used to hate it. I used to hate it more than anything. I would tell people that my name was Tammy, which is funny, because while they actually gave me that nickname in not such a flattering way, but I hated that I had a boy’s name, but now it makes me different and so I love it.
Watson: Love it. What would surprise people? Even those who think they know you, what would surprise them the most to learn about you?
Lahren: That I don’t talk about politics all the time, and I’m actually a very relaxed person to be around. I’m probably the most relaxed person in my group of friends, and I’m not confrontational at all in my personal life.
Watson: What would have happened you think if you hadn’t made it in TV out of the gate? If the first couple tries, you had whiffed on, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
Lahren: I think I would have kept doing it until I made it because that’s just my personality. But I think I probably would have done something in law or something in some kind of advocacy, something where I can use my skills of communication that’s what I’d be doing, but I don’t think I ever would have given this up.
Watson: The Democrat who you admire or like the most, which may be one in the same or maybe it’s different?
Lahren: Boy, I said Mitt Romney earlier, take that for what it is.
Watson: Shots fired. OK, OK. Give me someone who actually is a part of the Democratic Party? Is there a Democrat who you like even [if] you don’t agree with them on all the politics? Is there a Democrat that you get along with and/or that you admire?
Lahren: A Democrat politician, not so many, but I will say this just as far as Democrats in media or people in media that are obviously very left leaning, I’ve actually developed somewhat of a friendship with Van Jones and I’m really happy about that. I’ve had a great conversation with Chelsea Handler. So, there are folks that are far, far to the left of me that I count as great people. People would be surprised to know, but Joy Behar was actually also very nice to me when I met her. So, I really value those people for who they are and the fact that they could treat me with kindness even though we disagree.
Watson: What’s your favorite book?
Lahren: Favorite book, The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. I think all young women should read that. I think it’s got a lot of great knowledge on how to keep yourself safe and trust your instincts. I think every woman and man should read it and they can learn a lot.
Watson: The thing that scares you the most?
Lahren: Thing that scares me the most, probably trying to be too perfect or being too career-oriented and too goal-driven that I don’t stop and smell the roses and enjoy life and have that balance, that’s probably the thing that scares me the most looking to my future.
Watson: The person who is most able to give you a critique and tell you the truth and really break through.
Lahren: I would love to say it’s my parents, but unfortunately, it’s not. I am very blessed to have an ex-fiancé that I am very close to, that I trust his opinion on everything and really count him as one of the most loyal people in my life. So, although it’s odd to say your ex-fiancé, my ex fiancé is one of those people for me.
Watson: Very interesting. I was staying away from that because I assume that was a sensitive area, but you’re telling me now that you guys consciously uncoupled.
Lahren: We did. It didn’t work out, but he is by far the greatest person I know. I learned a lot from him every day, and he will always be someone that’s very important in my life. Loyalty to me is everything and he’s somebody that I can trust. I think that goes both ways, so I’m very lucky in that.
Watson: Last couple of questions, the most interesting celebrity that you’ve met.
Lahren: Oh, boy, the most interesting, I would probably say Chelsea Handler is the most interesting celebrity that I’ve met.
Watson: Why? Why do you put her at the top?
Lahren: I grew up watching her show, I was such a big fan of Chelsea Lately. That was something that I watched every night with my mom. I guess meeting her in person, even though we have a lot of very, very different looks on life, she was very nice to me, and I love her energy. I think that she’s one of those women that went out there and really charted a course that not a lot of others did. To me, I was really inspired by her even though we disagree on about everything.
Watson: I love that. Finally, talk to me a little bit about dreaming fearlessly. It’s something that we talked a lot about on the show, how people can go about dreaming in a fearless way and then ultimately realize it. What have you learned about dreaming fearlessly?
Lahren: Well, I’ve found that just living fearlessly in general is always going to be the best way to live. Never back down, never apologize when you’re not wrong. Just stand firm in your beliefs, whatever those beliefs may be, whether left or right. Always acknowledge when you are wrong, but to me that is also living fearlessly. It’s not being afraid to make a mistake, but knowing who you are and knowing that the best way to be happy is to know yourself and know who you are and know what you believe in. I think that that’s how you live fearlessly, and that’s the way you can inspire others to do it too with confidence.
Watson: Now, final question. If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would you love to have dinner with?
Lahren: Hillary Clinton, hands down.
Watson: Say more.
Lahren: I think that she’s incredibly interesting. Obviously, we disagree on a lot and I think that there’s a lot that I’d like to ask her. So, I think it would be very interesting to have dinner with Hillary Clinton. Of all the Republicans I could choose, all the celebrities that I would choose, she’s one of those people to me that’s an enigma and I love to unravel it.
Watson: Do you think she got treated fairly in 2016?
Lahren: I think that she set herself up for a lot of issues that she had. But when you compare it to the way Donald Trump was treated and is treated, I don’t think that she was treated in near the way and demonized near the way that our president has. I think she had a lot of advantages, but I give her credit. She’s resilient. She’s persistent in some good ways, in some bad ways, but you got to give her credit for what she’s done.
Watson: Tomi, absolutely interesting conversation. I really appreciate you taking the time and promise me that you’ll come back and do this again.
Lahren: I’d love to. I love these conversations. I think the dialogue is so important in this country right now.
Watson: Thank you. Thank you so much. Look forward to seeing you soon.
Lahren: Thank you.
- Daniel Malloy