Meghan McCain has been trending all week, but she lives rent free in my head for other reasons too. I’ve been watching the show every day for the past three years and I am here to admit that I am an anti-racist and anti-conservative liberal who loves Meghan McCain on The View. I had no idea it was so unusual until I entered the shambles that are her Twitter replies a few weeks ago, and it’s not like I was even praising her that much – I agreed with one opinion she had about the pandemic, and people came for me.
The reason Meghan has been trending this week is because she was called out by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight for her hypocrisy for talking about her solidarity with the Stop Asian Hate movement juxtaposed with past Trump-associated anti-Asian comments, specifically when she said she didn’t mind referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.” After John’s segment, Meghan apologized:
I condemn the reprehensible violence and vitriol that has been targeted towards the Asian-American community. There is no doubt Donald Trumpâ€™s racist rhetoric fueled many of these attacks and I apologize for any past comments that aided that agenda.— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) March 22, 2021
Meghan gets dragged every day – on Twitter, by left-wing commentators and her own co-hosts on The View…which, in my opinion, is probably one of the show’s assets, because when she’s in the news, The View is in the news. Meghan never misses an opportunity to defend herself, often using conservative talking points to shield her bad takes. This time was different because she issued a full apology. The way I see it, she’s been on a journey toward a more liberal mindset for some time now.
It wasn’t always this way. Meghan considering herself an outlier during the very difficult and very racist Trump years didn’t really work for me, especially when she proudly proclaimed she was still very much a Republican woman. She appeared more anti-Democrat than Republican in my eyes, especially since it’s clear the party still has an allegiance to Trump, refusing to hold him accountable for the insurrection at the U.S Capitol on January 6th.
But there were indications that her politics were starting to change …slightly. She broke from other Republicans in a big way when she spent all of Trump’s presidency speaking out against him and it was personal for her (Donald Trump for years has been notoriously disrespectful to her father, John McCain). During the last presidential election, the women of The View were pretty unanimous in their unapologetic endorsement of Joe Biden during the primaries, and Meghan spoke about having to face the paradox of voting for him, a Democrat, because she loves him so much. I wrote about their connection in 2019. When it came time to tell the public who she was voting for, it was no surprise it was Joe Biden. In April 2020, she told Andy Cohen, "There's one man who has made pain in my life a living hell and another man who has literally shepherded me through the grief process.”
Then her mother, Cindy McCain outdid her, publicly endorsing Biden a month before the election, which in part secured Biden a win in Arizona (there were other factors at play, like shifting demographics and organizing of the Latino vote) with its eleven electoral votes, a state that has voted red since 1952.
This is a complicated back-and-forth that I’ve been wrestling with as an everyday fan of The View, trying to balance Meghan’s problematic positions with moments that I can actually relate to. Like this one, on February 9th, when The View aired a segment exploring the themes of the documentary Framing Britney Spears. As a fan of Britney’s from the beginning, I found Meghan McCain’s comments on this enlightening and necessary:
“I love Britney Spears….I am always rooting for her, I am always rooting for her comeback…I’ve actually been following the #FreeBritney story for a while. It’s really compelling, the story is about her conservatorship. Basically, to sum it down, we’re supposed to believe that this is a woman who is competent enough to be a judge on the X Factor, to perform in sold-out shows that I saw personally, an incredible performer, do endorsement deals, do all these things a competent person can do, but she’s not allowed to have control over her own finances. Basically she’s not allowed to go to Target and spend her own money, and she’s now 39 years old and this documentary is visiting a lot of questions a lot of people have about why Britney Spears is ostensibly being treated like she’s a child that can’t have control over her own life….
“The documentary also revisits the role that a lot of people have played, like Justin Timberlake, and our role as the people in the media. I think Justin Timberlake has some things to answer to, not just about Britney Spears, but about his role in sexualizing and demonizing Janet Jackson after the Super Bowl. And I also think we as a society, we have to look at why we treated a woman who was clearly in pain- and by the way was suffering from postpartum depression when she shaved her head and took an umbrella to a paparazzi car. Why we treat women like they are always crazy? Why women have no other options besides we are insane maniacs. We as a society have not treated Britney Spears right, we have done her dirty, and I think this is a moment in time for us to give her the support that she needs.”
Britney aside (except she should never be absent from our minds), where politics is concerned, is Meghan drifting into Democrat territory? I don’t think it will ever happen. People often mention her staunchly conservative husband Ben Domenech’s influence, but I’ve always felt she is the leader in the marriage, at least in the public sense. Because despite Twitter people acting like she appeared out of thin air and nepotism on The View to ruin their day, Meghan’s brand as a conservative young woman has been over a decade in the making. She began blogging during John McCain’s presidential campaign, had a column with The Daily Beast, hosted a show in 2016 called Outnumbered, and wrote two books. When she was tapped by The View in 2017, it came after her role as a Fox News contributor. Although any time at Fox seems like hell on racist earth, I think she got out just in time, during the outing of late, disgraced Roger Ailes’s sexual misconduct allegations…
To occupy the conservative seat on The View previously held by people like Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Candace Cameron Bure. And no matter how people feel about Meghan, she undeniably put The View back in circulation, almost immediately. In 2019, New York Times Magazine named it the most important political TV show in America and in 2020 it won the Emmy for best informative talk show. Meghan will spar with all of the hosts at any given time, but her arguments with powerhouse Joy Behar remain the most memorable. The latest viral (and funny) moment being in January when Meghan returned from maternity leave and joked that Joy missed fighting with her, and Joy replied, “I did not miss you. Zero.”
Which brings us back to the present, and Meghan’s apology to the Asian community and her past comments and the effect they had on the rise of anti-Asian racism. Two days after she posted her apology, she made headlines again during a segment about Senator Tammy Duckworth demanding Biden have more Asian American representation in his Cabinet, something that is her job to do: push the government. Meghan said this:
"We’ve only had one Asian American host co-host host this show. Does that mean one of us should be leaving because there’s not enough representation? We're talking about -- is identity politics more important than the qualifications for the job?"
Not a great argument and she used the conservative talking point around identity politics, which is pretty inaccurate. Sunny Hostin, Joy Behar, and Sara Haines all pushed back against Meghan and praised the Biden administration for even having a dialogue about change and having the potential to be an agent of change, a point Biden ran his campaign on. But the real kicker was when Barbara Smith, one of three Black women who actually coined the term, “Identity Politics” in 1977, posted this thread about why exactly Meghan was wrong.
1/4 I am 1 of 3 Black women who coined the term #IdentityPolitics in the #CombaheeRiverCollective Statement, 1977. @MeghanMcCain does not know what she's talking about. What we meant was that Black women have the right to determine our own political agendas, period, full stop. https://t.co/CGncZG8frQ— Barbara Smith (@TheBarbaraSmith) March 25, 2021
Twitter came at Meghan’s neck for the comments, and to my annoyance, her hair, which I love. I cannot understand why people attack her looks when it’s her politics they really hate. It’s just such a weak way to approach a critique. She has such a long history and present day conservative basis for her ideals, why people can’t stick to critiquing that is beyond me. I’m convinced it’s misogyny and body-shaming and it’s wrong.
Which brings me to the most infuriating, and according to her, most damaging part about how people treat her on Twitter. Just yesterday, while discussing Chrissy Teigen’s exit from Twitter, Meghan had this to say about the bullying she herself has had to endure:
“There’s amazing things that can come from social media…I feel that I have a professional obligation to be on Twitter, I need to follow it be updated about news events by journalists and that’s the way it works. The flipside of this, I spend a quarter of my life trending on Twitter…and it’s always something negative. It’s not just random people, it’s people with blue checkmarks and I do not need a pity party, I said there’s no crying in baseball yesterday, I have chosen to do this work, this is not indentured servitude. But I am the one conservative woman in all of mainstream television, I’m the only one left. And with that I am saying things that are not said in an echo chamber. I say things that people just don’t want to hear. If they disagree with me, it automatically becomes personal about how fat I am, a disgusting white woman of privilege, I only get anywhere because of my dad, everything you guys have already said is not anything I haven’t thought and felt and been insecure about for my whole life…so I get it. I get why Chrissy Teigen can’t do it..it has 100% impacted my mental health. I have suffered from depression because of things people have done to me on social media…”
If you look at the way people talk about her and to her online, they seem to not know what they want. Every time they talk about her, they make her more popular, it’s been demonstrated that it keeps her on the show, yet they continue with this relentless #fireMeghanMcCain hashtag. It makes no sense. But now, and much worse, as she said yesterday, it’s actually driving her to depression so I just really caution people on their language online. It’s not ok.
And on the nepotism point, I get it, it’s an easy dig, but if people understood how rich Cindy (not John) McCain is, they would realize that Meghan has really never had to work. It seems like she genuinely loves her job, and the jobs before it. She clearly has a deep passion for politics.
Some of the other ways she has shifted politically or at least opened up dialogue has been her recent work with Van Jones, someone who has also become polarizing, and who I don’t always agree with but who, along with many mistakes, has made good contributions – and this is not just because he followed me on Twitter two weeks ago, but hey Van, how you doing. J Van and Meghan just produced a documentary, The Reunited States of America: How to Bridge The Partisan Divide.
So while I wish she would go ahead and abandon the party she grew up with (and the gun lobby and rhetoric that goes along with it), as well as a litany of political and human rights issues I disagree with her on, I don’t think Meghan McCain is going anywhere. Nor should she.
To address the Karen in the room, yes Meghan represents a brand of white woman that doesn’t exactly need a megaphone in mainstream media. Her views, like the one John Oliver called out, can be not just be controversial, but more importantly, deeply hurtful, seemingly ahistorical or potentially dangerous. My aim is not to minimize the damage Republican rhetoric, policy, and action (like the despicable assault on voting rights in Georgia yesterday) is doing and who it is empowering. That’s why I think she has to abandon the party. And I want to be clear that I’m not doing that thing that conservatives do when they frame things as two sides and encourage a debate to avoid an “echo chamber.” Oftentimes, Republicans are pushing what they frame as issues, but are really tools to oppress and control entire populations of people. I don’t think human rights are debatable. But I don’t think Meghan is a one-dimensional Karen either; I think there’s more to her than that. I even think she can educate Karens in a way that people of colour cannot do – and shouldn’t have to do. White people should do the heavy lifting and learnings and go on the journey with each other, and leave us out of it. It’s not clear if that’s even Meghan’s aim, but even if it’s unintentional, the fact is, she is the Karen that’s out there exposing the Karen perspective and being challenged every day on a big platform.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how Sharon Osbourne has to leave The Talk due the way she handled defending Piers Morgan, and throwing her Black co-host under the bus. Hours after it was published, Yashar Ali released his exclusive, detailing even more racist behaviour and verbal abuse allegations based on his over two-year investigation of that how. While there have been many leaks from The View set about discord (something Meghan has said she feels betrayed over), I still think she is good for the show. If this were five men having this level of passionate political debate, they would be praised. I really love Ana Navarro, but I like her on Fridays, and I don’t think she should replace Meghan (people say this A LOT). The show likes to have a stanch conservative in that seat and I fear who would replace Meghan if she wasn’t there. I fully understand people’s issues with her politics, but she isn’t afraid to critique her own party, something Republicans are not known to do. I think she does a great job on The View. And like they say, I’m allowed to share my view!