On July 8, the night of the deadly sniper attack against police officers in Dallas, Texas, Tomi Lahren, a conservative commentator for TheBlaze, sent a since-deleted tweet saying “Meet the new KKK, they call themselves ‘Black Lives Matter’ but make no mistake their goals are far from equality.” In two tweets she did not delete, she also blamed the media, President Obama, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch for “validat[ing] and embolden[ing] those that want to wage a war on cops.”
On the July 10 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources, Baltimore Sun media reporter David Zurawik assailed Lahren, asserting that “there’s no room for the kind of ignorance” that her “really reckless” and “appall[ing]” tweet about Black Lives Matter and the Ku Klux Klan promoted:
DAVID ZURAWIK: I think, Brian, you can't exclude what's happening on social media anymore. Because it's absolutely there. You know, we are not, I mean this is , you know, sounds like “duh,” but we are not gatekeepers almost in any way, shape, or form anymore to this discussion. The difference is when you had gatekeepers in, for all the sins with our system. Before you got to publish, you were socialized to a set of values that said, like -- it was like Driver Ed., be careful, you can kill -- you can destroy careers with these words, you can inflame things with these words. And they didn't let you publish until they thought you were a responsible driver. Social media, you have people putting some of the worst things out there, they publish in the midst of these heightened warfare almost. And then they take it down, because oh duh, I was wrong. That's so reckless, and Brian, it's people in the media working on legitimate media platforms who are doing this. I don’t know how you deal with that. It's really incumbent on the people who own the platforms to sort of police what their people are saying. But it's not enough to have people on, they publish something, and it's awful, and it denigrates a whole group, and then you take it down and you say oh, never mind. That’s part of what’s going on.
TOMI LAHREN: If you disagree with what someone is posting on social media or you disagree with their voice, you bring them on and you allow them to address it. You don’t talk about them. You allow them to defend themselves, you allow them to clarify, and you have that open and honest conversation, as I’ve asked to do on many of the platforms that have said I went too far. You bring that person on and let them speak for themselves.
ZURAWIK: You did. You did go too far Tomi, you did.
LAHREN: That is your opinion.
ZURAWIK: I wish it was your employer’s opinion. That’s really reckless. That kind of tweet at the situation we’re in. As a journalist what you did appalls me. That’s the end of it. I’m trying to be civil about this.
LAHREN: And I appreciate it. A, I’m not a journalist, I’m a commentator and I’m allowed to have my feelings and my opinions, and I stand behind the things that I say. Because the thing that hurts people the most is when you're honest. When you look at something from an honest lens from your perspective and you bring that forth, you're immediately labeled for it and you’re immediately criticized. What those on the other side want to do is criticize, label, and silence those that disagree with them. I don’t play that game.
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Jamia --
ZURAWIK: There’s no room for the kind of ignorance that your tweet put out there at this time in our history.
LAHREN: I agree with you that there is divisive language out there that needs to be tamed. And I agree that some of the things that I may have said come from a place of anger, and come from a place of being truly heartbroken about what happened in my city of Dallas. But make no mistake, the First Amendment applies to everyone. And the best way to combat speech you don’t like is not to silence others, it’s more speech. It’s more conversation.
ZURAWIK: Not to give them a platform.
LAHREN: To silence people does no good.