There has been a lot of sober, respectful applause (especially from the left) concerning the debate between Tomi Lahren and Trevor Noah. Dialogue and discourse is the only way to make conservatives realize they are wrong – this seems to be the argument of many liberal observers. The idea that the left and right inhabit different media landscapes is certainly correct, but bursting those bubbles is not so simple. It certainly seems to make sense: if you want to engage people of different political positions, have their avatars (with large followings) debate.
But it is a sad commentary that Trevor Noah, a comedian, and Tomi Lahren, an enraged commentator best known for two-minute anti-liberal screeds, are the political right and left’s surrogates. The type of discussion they had lacks the intellectual rigor of true debate, does nothing to bridge the gap between left and right, and exposes the two personalities as purveyors of cynical, insincere outrage. The two figures can come together and calmly discuss issues which, on their own programs, they rail on or against to provide the needed fix of outrage for their audience.
If Trevor Noah and Tomi Lahren are avatars for their sides of the political spectrum than they display the shallowness of political opinion. The reactions to the debate have also exposed the hubristic naïveté of the left. To think that a debate like that does anything except raise the profiles of the two actors involved is foolish, it does not bridge political divides. Sustained understanding of universal facts can draw people together and closer to the same opinions. The show also exposed the outraged populism that has consumed the right. Instead of reasoned debate about government spending there is outrage over Black Lives Matter and other social issues, which are societal issues more than governmental.
This was nothing more than an advertisement for the two, and it should not be seen as a model for bringing the country together. The two did nothing to burst media bubbles, but surely inflated their own sense of importance and moral righteousness.