I’ll admit that any time I hear the term “rising star,” in regards to the conservative talking heads world, my initial reaction is one of skepticism.
It may be because usually when that term is used, at least, lately, it’s based on something brief and recent. Quite often, because of this viral world we live in, something as fluffy as a self-made YouTube video, that just happens to hit the right audience at the right time is enough to make one a “rising star.”
Maybe I’m getting cranky in my old age, but I prefer to take a wait-and-see approach before I call anyone a “star,” rising, or otherwise.
I mean, they called Tomi Lahren a “rising star.” Talk about a substance-free nightmare!
Here lately, the buzz has been about Candace Owens, a millennial conservative who began her upward trajectory in the conservative media world through – you guessed it – a YouTube video a mere 10 months ago.
The video was a reenactment of Owens revealing to her parents that she was a conservative. Owens is black, so knowing that finding a black conservative is the equivalent of finding a four-leaf clover, this was a big deal.
It was a big enough deal that Turning Point USA, facing charges of racial bias, hired her in November to be their director of urban development.
Last week, President Trump tweeted that Owens was part of a group of “very smart ‘thinkers’” and that she is “having a big impact on politics.” And this week, Owens mingled with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump at the dedication of the new US embassy in Jerusalem.
In spite of all of this, I’ve heard rumblings about who Candace Owens really is. For instance, is this black, conservative, Trump supporter thing the result of some sort of epiphany, or an outright act?
I mean, if it’s an act, it could very well be because there is a market to appealing to the pro-Trump MAGA crowd.
Seriously. Those guys pay $40 for what amounts to $5 MAGA ball caps. And somebody is buying Trumpy Bear, or they wouldn’t be making them.
Whatever accounts for the sudden emergence of Candace Owens as a rightwing darling, according to Buzzfeed News, it wasn’t always the case.
Yet Owens, suddenly a new face of the American right, was less than two years ago the CEO of an online publication that frequently mocked then-candidate Trump, including conducting a mock “investigation” into his penis size. (The story determined that it was likely very small.) And in a 2015 column for the site lambasting conservative Republicans, Owens wrote that it was “good news” that the “Republican Tea Party ... will eventually die off (peacefully in their sleep, we hope).”
I can’t remember who it was, but somebody on the left was excoriated for suggesting the old, white Republican party would die off, soon.
Owens’ now-defunct site was called Degree180, and it was mainly a lot of leftist think-pieces and musings.
Besides the penis-size investigation, there were also articles comparing Trump’s anti-immigrant stance to Adolf Hitler, alleged misogyny (as in, if you don’t like short guys, you’ve been conditioned by misogyny), and just why “all lives matter” is a horrible thing to say.
This was not a site that was supportive of Trump, or the Republican party, in general.
The site did offer the occasional story by a conservative, such as a column by a Republican woman on the challenges of attending a liberal university. And most of Owens’ writing for Degree180 was not political. Much of it was personal, including essays about her struggle with anorexia, inspirational exhortations, a fierce essay titled “F**k Girl Code: I Can Hook Up With Your Ex-Boyfriend If I Want,” and advice about how to get prescription stimulants “without so much as a doctor’s evaluation.” (The site seems to have stopped publishing new material in December 2016.)
Yeah. She sounds like a real peach.
Refer back to my earlier suggestion that maybe Owens’ conservative awakening is more market-based than ideological in its origins.
I could certainly be wrong, but…