Tomi Lahren, the right-wing firebrand who had been a staple on Glenn Beck’s “TheBlaze,” is speaking out after filing a lawsuit against Beck and his online platform, alleging wrongful termination.
“My job is my life. This is my life. Without that, I feel lost,” Lahren told ABC News’ “Nightline." “When your outlet is taken away from you and you don’t understand why and you’re so disappointed and you’re so blindsided, it hurts.”
Lahren, a rising conservative star at just 24 years old who attracted millions of online followers for her controversial and unapologetic critiques on her show, “Tomi,” filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in Texas on Friday. She alleges she was ousted from her show after she said publically she was in favor of abortion rights.
On March 17, Lahren appeared on ABC’s “The View,” and said, “I’m pro-choice, and here’s why: I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government but I think that the government should decide what women do with their bodies… stay out of my guns and you can stay out of my body as well.”
Her comments launched a social media firestorm, and when she got back home to Dallas, she said, the other shoe dropped.
“I was getting ready to go in and do my show and I got a phone call saying that show was not on, ‘have been suspended for a week, perhaps longer,’ … I was flabbergasted,” she said.
Lahren said TheBlaze suspended her and terminated her show because of her pro-choice statements on “The View.” It’s a claim TheBlaze denies, telling ABC News in a statement, "It is puzzling that an employee who remains under contract (and is still being paid) has sued us for being fired, especially when we continue to comply fully with the terms of our agreement with her.”
But Lahren claims she has been “silenced” and “sidelined” ever since.
“This is not about politics,” she said. “This is about someone who had an opposing viewpoint that has been silenced and sidelined and thrown away.”
Despite TheBlaze’s denial, Lahren continues to characterize her situation as having been fired, though she admits Beck’s company is still paying her.
“I get up in the morning and I don't have a job to go to,” she said. “I don’t sit down in my chair and deliver my ‘Final Thoughts,’ I don’t have a dressing room, so I’m terminated, I’m fired… the way I look at things, I’m not doing what I was contracted to do, which was produce a television show, a political talk show.”
Lahren is still being paid until her contact with TheBlaze is up in September, but she said she wants out. In her lawsuit, Lahren alleged “expressing her First Amendment rights and her personal opinions about a woman’s right to choose” is not grounds for termination and that Beck and others “embarked on a public smear campaign” against Lahren “in a clear attempt to embarrass, humiliate and undermine” her.
“After my appearance on ‘The View,’ I saw a lot of commentary on Twitter and other platforms, but I wasn’t allowed to respond to those, I was silenced,” she said. “Now I don’t have a problem with free speech but free speech and silencing your opposition, boy, I have a problem with that.”
The lawsuit also alleges that “TBI [TheBlaze, Inc.] stretched yellow caution tape spelling an “X” on plaintiff’s [Lahren’s] office/dressing room door,” which Lahren told “Nightline” she found “very hurtful.”
“I'm someone with a thick skin and I can stand up to about anybody,” Lahren said. “But when somebody does that that's really hard for me to take in…Loyalty is everything to me, and you can disagree with me, but to go out and try to humiliate me? Very, very disappointed.”
Perhaps worse for a media personality who has over 4.2 million Facebook followers, Lahren also claims TheBlaze retains control of her Facebook page. Lahren is suing for “the immediate return and complete access” to her Facebook page and other social media accounts, according to the lawsuit. Lahren’s last post was on March 19.
“The fundamental question will be is this her personal Facebook page, in which case they have no right to control it, make it go dark, change it, or is this a Facebook page that is associated with TheBlaze that’s effectively owned and run by TheBlaze,” said ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams.
Beck insists that Lahren’s stance on abortion had nothing to do with her suspension. He responded to Lahren’s “View” comments his show on March 20.
“If you are pro-choice, you can have a job at TheBlaze,” Beck said at the time. “I don’t want strawmen. I want people to make a real argument on the other side.”
He went on to say he takes issue with the justification for her beliefs, saying “I would disagree that you’re a hypocrite if you want limited government and yet you want government to protect life of the unborn.”
In response to Beck’s comments, Lahren told “Nightline” that she never had the opportunity to defend herself before her suspension.
“Clearly I was terminated without cause because I expressed a viewpoint,” she said. “That's why they didn't want me around. It was specifically because of that. So here we are.”
Lahren made a name for herself for being provocative on her show, though she called herself not “provocative” but “passionate.” She made comments about Colin Kaepernick’s infamous kneeling during the national anthem. After Beyoncé seemed to give a tribute to the Black Panthers Party during her Super Bowl Halftime show performance last year, Lahren went on her show and called Beyoncé’s husband, Jay-Z, a “drug dealer for 14 years.” Lahren also tweeted that the Black Lives Matter movement was the “new KKK,” but later deleted the tweet.
“Listen, I know there's people that are going to disagree with some of the things that I say and that's OK,” she said. “I'm not here to please everyone.”
Without a show and without full control of her social media presence, Lahren has been pushed to the sidelines – for the moment at least.
“I'm a human being at the end of the day and something has been stripped from me and that's my ability to work, that’s my ability to have a voice,” she said. “That's been taken from me wrongfully. So I’m upset by it, and I’m hurt by it and I feel betrayed by it.”
But she says don’t count her out for long.
“I'm not the kind of girl that sits in the corner and cries about things. And that's another message I really want to get across,” Lahren said. “I don't consider myself a feminist but boy I will not lay down and play dead ever.”