I have vivid memories of those electric Bush-era tussles between Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Rosie O’Donnell. They were exciting outlets for people to project their political tensions onto at a tense political time. I can’t help but think now, on the occasion of her departure, how fortunate we were that Meghan McCain held her ground on “The View” during recent years of tumult.
When I say “we,” I don’t mean “the right.” I mean it much more broadly. My obvious biases aside, it’s impossible to think of a conservative woman who could’ve withstood the daily frenzy like Meghan while simultaneously managing to argue as well as she did.
It’s not as easy as just looking good and stringing sentences together for an hour every day. On “The View,” the woman tasked with representing conservatives needs to be prepared to argue and prepared to argue well, with an army of media reporters hanging on her every word, eager to serve her up to the social media mob. That’s never been more true than in Meghan’s years on “The View.”
Two important points warrant emphasizing. First, love it or hate it, “The View” is a very important part of our politics and culture. Indeed, it’s one of the only places where a variety of public figures, from presidential candidates to celebrities, subject themselves to questioning from conservatives and one of the few major platforms that really hosts cultural debate with any semblance of representation. How many pro-life, pro-gun women are represented in the media’s discourse? That deficit is deeply unhealthy. It’s one of the most serious problems in our boardrooms and newsrooms and writer’s rooms.
Second, representation is important and increasingly rare. Meghan may share disagreements with the average conservative on some issues, but she pushed back hard and persuasively and emotionally, giving voice daily to women around the country who have virtually none in media. She did it well, too, striking the impossible balance of 1) actually being conservative and 2) actually surviving in that environment as a likable personality able to speak persuasively and also have fun. (See here and here and here and here and here and here and here…)
As the Trump era pushed people with political disagreements and cultural backgrounds further apart, Meghan modeled how to handle those debates without sacrificing your principles or your relationships — while also being the only dissenter in most discussions. But on “The View,” Meghan was there to make those discussions more constructive so they were less like Nespresso-fueled commiserations at The Wing and more like real dinner-table conflicts — the kinds of fights that actually change us.
Nobody asked me to write this. I was thinking back on the “View” fights that bubbled to the top of our politics back when I was growing up. It’s very much worth acknowledging the years of strong representation conservative women had on “The View” — and during one of the country’s most painful moments.
That’s worth acknowledging because representation matters. It’s what makes our politics healthy. “The View” had a big advantage with Meghan on board, but the rest of the media should take a cue and bring authentic voices willing to challenge the corporate Narrative onto their programming. It’s not just about the show either. “View” hosts are major celebrities who take their messages onto a variety of other platforms, like late-night TV, social media, Bravo, and more.
Groupthink is is a feature of our discourse. Even people closer to Sunny Hostin than Meghan McCain should be eager to tolerate and willing to thank the few people who put up with the media’s hostility to make our public discourse just a little bit more representative of the public and a little less dominated by group-thinking elites. It’s one thing to do that, it’s another thing to do it well. Meghan did both.