Q&A: OutKick’s Tomi Lahren on Taylor Swift, the Bud Light boycott and the status of her rift with Glenn Beck
The outspoken Outkick host says conservatives can be Swifties — she’s one herself. But she’s done with Maren Morris
Tomi Lahren bills herself as “fearless” on her OutKick talk show and there is evidence that she might have a point. She’s willing, for example, to publicly confess that she doesn’t care for football even though she works for the sports media company that founder Clay Travis says “exists to serve the 75%-80% of sports fans who aren’t woke.”
She also doesn’t seem to care much about who she might offend, whether it be former bosses like Glenn Beck or Kristi Noem, or conservatives who are strongly against abortion. (She says she’s personally anti-abortion, but believes strongly in limited government.) Lahren deals in opinions, and she ladles them out with the brashness of a former president she used to support. (She still likes Donald Trump, but has picked another candidate for 2024.)
While at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, she was an intern for Noem (then a congresswoman, now governor of South Dakota); after college, she went on to work for the One America News Network, then The Blaze, before joining Fox Nation in 2017. The “Tomi Lahren is Fearless” show launched on OutKick last year and is live Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. MDT on OutKick’s media platforms. Lately, she’s made headlines for her opinions on the Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce romance and how a no-consequences society is affecting American youth.
Lahren spoke with Deseret this week about her new home on OutKick, her support for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and why she’s a Swiftie although she doesn’t share Swift’s political views. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Deseret News: You’re building a brand around the word “fearless.” What does fearlessness mean to you, and do you see this quality as missing in America?
Tomi Lahren: I speak out against the right when the right deserves it, and I speak out against the left when the left deserves it. It happens to be more on the left than the right, but to me, fearlessness is being able to speak your mind and express your firmly held opinions and convictions and not worry about who it’s going to upset. I’ve long said, do you really have values and beliefs if you’re unwilling to stand up for them? That’s how I challenge a lot of conservatives who don’t want to talk about politics or don’t want to ruffle feathers. I now there’s a time and a place for everything, but we’ve been conditioned as conservatives not to talk about religion or politics, and that has inhibited our ability to be competitive in elections. We need to talk more.
DN: You have been tweeting about Taylor Swift lately. Can we talk about that?
TL: Well, I want to be clear about this: I’m a fan of Taylor Swift; I don’t consider myself aligned with her politically or like the things she’s said about my senator and friend Marsha Blackburn. I don’t like her advocacy for positions on the left. But I’m a fan of her music, and my criticism of all this coverage of her really isn’t directed at Taylor Swift. She’s allowed to go to a football game, she’s allowed to date whoever she wants. To me, it’s the coverage of it that’s been so annoying. Like I said on Twitter, I’m not a football fan, but if I was going to a Taylor Swift concert, and they were having NFL cut-ins every five minutes, I would be (upset). ... I don’t want this to be misconstrued. I’m a fan. A lot of people that I criticize politically, I’m a big fan of what they do artistically.
DN: How are you able to make that distinction?
TL: For me, if conservatives are going to abandon all culture that’s not conservative, we aren’t going to be left with many options. But I’ll also say that it bothers me when artists come out and attack people that are their fans. I’ll give you a great example: Maren Morris. Maren Morris has come out and actively attacked conservatives, who are her fans, by the way. Or formerly her fans. So that, to me, is where I draw the line. I won’t listen to Maren Morris because she has gone out of her way to tell me and people like me that she doesn’t like us. So, it’s one thing if you’re advocating for a policy. Taylor Swift advocates for Democrats, I don’t agree with that. But Taylor Swift hasn’t, to my knowledge, come out and said, if you’re a Trump supporter or a conservative, I don’t like you, you’re a racist.
DN: But you do support boycotts, like Bud Light, isn’t that right?
TL: If I didn’t use any products that didn’t have any LGBTQ message, then I wouldn’t have many products to choose from. But Bud Light and Target specifically went out of their way to push away conservatives. That goes too far for a lot of us. It’s not about boycotts. It’s saying, hey, you’re going out of your way to make (your products) really unappealing to us, so you got your wish.
DN: In 2017, you settled a wrongful-termination lawsuit with Glenn Beck and The Blaze after you said you’d been fired for saying on “The View” that you supported abortion rights. What’s happened since then? Did you mend that fence?
TL: We’re not friends, we’re not friendly, we don’t speak. I see his clips every now and again where he’s complaining about censorship, which I find really ironic given the fact that he fired me for being pro-choice, but I don’t shed a lot of tears for the censorship of Glenn Beck. At that point, I was 24 years old, and he had a real desire to stop my career in its tracks not because I was pro-choice but because I was pro-Trump. (Editor’s note: The Blaze said in court filings that Lahren wasn’t fired for her position on abortion, but suspended for other reasons.)
DN: Since you mentioned Trump, where are you on Trump these days?
TL: I’ve been pro-Trump really from the get-go, when a lot of my fellow conservatives were not. I have been very open about the fact that I wish he had not run for reelection in 2024; I think that is damaging for the party. ... I see a real warrior in Ron DeSantis, a real ability to win. That’s why I have shifted my allegiance to DeSantis. It’s not that I don’t like Trump or his policies; it’s simply for the fact that I know 2024 is a crucial year and we can’t gamble. I know there’s a lot of Trump hate out there, and I fear that the only way that Joe Biden could get elected again is if people are voting against Trump.
DN: There’s been a lot of criticism of the DeSantis campaign and how it’s been run. If you were in charge, what would you tell him?
TL: I would tell him to be himself. When running for president, he had a lot stacked against him before he even announced; Trump supporters who called him America’s greatest governor immediately turned on him as soon as he said he was running against Trump. He’s had to fight a battle that no other candidates have had to fight — against his own party, and against his own supporters, really. Because a DeSantis supporter and a Trump supporter, up until about a year ago, were the same people. ... Although right now Trump is certainly ahead, I think the polls are inflated and when you start going state by state, I think you’re going to see a shift. Trump will likely still be ahead, but I don’t think DeSantis is as far behind as the polls would make it seem.
DN: You worked for Kristi Noem as an intern, right? What did you learn from her?
TL: In 2010, when she was elected to the House of Representatives, I was her first intern, in Rapid City, South Dakota. I didn’t learn a whole lot from her; more so I’ve learned about the evolution of Kristi Noem because the person I interned for in 2010 is not the same person that’s the governor of my state in 2023, I’ll put it that way. A lot of South Dakotans — and my whole family still lives in South Dakota, by the way — a lot of them aren’t as happy with her as it might appear. She’s become sort of a conservative rock star, but people back home don’t view her that way. I think it’s important to note that. She got a taste of the limelight during COVID when she didn’t shut our state down, and I appreciate that, but she got a little too much of the spotlight.
DN: On a recent segment on Fox, you said that we are “losing the youth.” What did you mean by that, and what, to your mind, is the solution?
TL: Conservatives sometimes try to fight culture wars that we shouldn’t fight, and this turns off young people. But a bigger problem is that we have an inability to explain ourselves to young people because we tend to talk at them instead of to them. We need to get better at that. We need to show up on college campuses, we need to meet them where they are, and we need to talk to them in language they understand so they know what our message is, and our message is freedom. Freedom is something that should resonate with young people, but unfortunately, we haven’t led with freedom, and so we’ve lost a lot of young people as a party and as a movement. We need to get better at that.
DN: How does abortion play into that?
TL: I think abortion is going to be an Achilles heel for the Republican Party in general. It’s one of the reasons why we didn’t have the red wave in the midterm elections. We failed to communicate our position on abortion; we failed to have people understand what the Dobbs decision really did, and that was to return that issue to the states. ... As much as I do not like Nikki Haley, she communicated in the first debate what I think should be the conservative message on abortion, saying we’re not going to lie to people and tell them we’re going to outlaw abortion. Because it’s not going to happen. We need to be much more honest with conservatives and liberals and moderates about how this issue is actually going to unfold, why it’s important for conservatives to be the reasonable party, and point out extremism in some on the left.
DN: What advice, if any, do you have for young women who are conservatives?
TL: Liberal women are really proud of their beliefs in a lot of ways; they’re proud of their convictions. And in some ways, conservative women aren’t. I want conservative women to be proud of their beliefs, and I want them to communicate their beliefs and opinions in a confident way. I do think that conservative women are finding their voice, and I think that advocating for women’s rights, women’s sports, women’s spaces, has advanced us into a place where we might be the new feminists.