After a month-long legal battle, one of the most prominent conservative millennials in media achieved an important victory this week. Her alleged wrongful termination led to a fight over intellectual property against her former employer in a legal battle that could have essentially ended her career. Instead, Tomi Lahren's lawsuit settlement against Glenn Beck's The Blaze network is a win for all women — her claim to her brand and her on-air identity was protected by the legal system, which so often isn't the case for women in the media industry, and at large.
Following her appearance on The View in March when she defended abortion rights, Lahren was fired from The Blaze, a network that is part of Beck's conservative media empire. Lahren responded with a wrongful termination lawsuit, which was settled this week. Under the terms of the agreement, Lahren will maintain ownership of the Facebook page in her name, even though it was set up by her former employer.
"I am thrilled to walk away from this with my freedom and Facebook page. I am grateful to my fans for their continued support through this storm," Lahren told Fox News in a statement.
Beck and his team responded to the news as well, with a much more detached statement. "The Blaze is pleased to announce that the relationship with Tomi Lahren has concluded," the company said in a statement. "Ms. Lahren will continue to have access to her social media accounts as has always been the case."
Lahren's legal outcome is an interesting contrast to the other big legal development in conservative media — the various sexual harassment allegations and lawsuits that hit Fox News in the past year. In each of those cases, the women who were allegedly harassed ended up being the most penalized (until very recently, that is). The two situations aren't perfectly analogous, but Lahren emerged from her lawsuit with her brand intact in a way that women have rarely been able to achieve before.
Furthermore, the assertion on behalf of Beck's legal team that Lahren's audience ever belonged to The Blaze is questionable. It's basically like Beck and his legal team were arguing that they Lahren's thoughts and identity were under the network's ownership, right down to her fans. Granted, The Blaze may have produced the content, but the media personality around which the show revolved was Lahren.
Denying any woman her rightfully-earned achievement is bad for all of women. Despite her litany of problematic stances, an argument that can be made for Lahren's continued media presence is that she has been unafraid to stray from the textbook conservative rhetoric, as glimpsed from her pro-choice stance that led to her termination at The Blaze. Lahren has shown a potential to adopt more feminist views than her former boss, making her captive audience likely better off in her hands than Beck's.
Of course, the emphasis is on the word potential here — in the not-so-recent past, Lahren has promoted some deeply troubling views about Black Lives Matter, immigration, indigenous rights, and feminism during her time on at The Blaze. Yet the very event that led to her firing from The Blaze — her defense of abortion rights on The View — indicates that she might have some ideological room to shift toward a more progressive outlook.
After all, Lahren is still young. She's only 24, she grew up in one small corner of the world, and could very well come to believe in more moderate political positions. Although Lahren's current views are inflammatory and provocative (and downright bigoted to some), her recent actions suggest that she might be the type of conservative who can bridge the aisle, at least on some controversial topics.
Whatever your personal feelings on her, Lahren has a strong fan base that she has power to influence, and it's somewhat comforting to know that she might expound some more moderate social views to that audience. Plus, anytime a woman isn't silenced, it's a good thing — at the very least, Lahren adds a modicum of diversity to the male-dominated world of reporting. She's not perfect, and she's far from a feminist icon right now, but there's still hope for Lahren yet.