Meghan McCain is no stranger to controversy, tough questions, and being put on the spot. And so while we’ve been best friends for years, I’ve rarely come to her defense publicly because, frankly, she doesn’t need me to. But in advance of the release of her new Audible memoir, Bad Republican, I knew I could ask her some blunt questions, even uncomfortable ones, about her time at The View, the public’s perception of her, her marriage to a provocative right-wing media personality, motherhood, and even her love of fast-casual food chains.
So why did you leave The View?
I was unhappy for a while. These haven’t been easy times, since basically President Trump got elected. And then my dad was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer, which has a survival rate median of 14 months. Best bet, you’ll probably get nine. It’s a very dangerous and deadly brain cancer, and he didn’t actually die quickly, but he sort of lost his ability to function quickly. And then I felt like, and I talk about this in [Bad Republican], that I became more of a caricature to people in the media and the world and on camera. I felt like when I would go home to Phoenix, there were girls that go to my high school approaching me at La Grande Orange and they would be like, “We love you, you’re speaking for us.” And that felt really good. And then like so many things do with so many women, after I had a baby it just changed, and my life perspective changed.
But I expected to go back to The View like I had always done everything there, which was like a hardass. And I went back, I think it was five or six weeks after my dad died, with bereavement leave, and then I just pushed through, even though I was emotionally just a fucking mess.
Did you ever worry about getting canceled while you were on The View? Daily. Yes. I always prepped really hard before The View, really hard, like starting when I first woke up super-early in the morning, and I would prep very hard with my producer. But you always worry about making a mistake. I said a few things off the cuff that ended up totally, brutally coming back to bite me, and are still used everywhere. Some co-hosts before me did way worse, so that made me feel a little better.
But The View’s always been known, in the 25 years that it’s been on, for its backstage personality clashes. Do you think you got it worse than others?
I think all conservative women on that show get it worse. I mean, Candace Cameron Bure just gave an interview two days ago talking about how she has post-traumatic stress syndrome from working at The View. I believe her. I believe people when they say that this is very, very serious.
Why do people have this princess impression of you?
I’m very aware of this, like, spoiled, entitled queen of nepotism persona that is out there. Some of it I think is, I didn’t always react my best on air on The View. To my defense, neither did anyone else, everybody’s just watching me react badly the most and making the most of it.
I think partly Saturday Night Live parodies have this way of becoming reality. I’ve seen it so many times with Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton. The stereotypes of who you are become true. Bush being an idiot. I still think Alex Trebek is someone who celebrities hated. Sometimes the parody is the person, and I think that probably played a factor, too. People really loved it when SNL dunked on me, and it was not flattering or kind. And, by the way, they were pretty nice to the rest of the [View] cast, just not great to me.
I feel like I have a pretty healthy sense of humor. But I think if people knew what it has done to me mentally, emotionally, the toll it’s taken on me, the depression that has followed … just the dark spirals. I felt like for a while that I was just the laughing stock of the country. And it’s not true or fair or accurate, but when you’re your worst critic in your head, it’s very hard.
OK, tell me about life after The View.
Life after The View is much less stressful. I’m much happier in my day-to-day. I’ve really been enjoying, as cheesy as it sounds, just cooking for my family, taking care of [one-year-old daughter] Liberty, getting back into writing a column.
Shifting gears to national politics. How does this end for the GOP? What’s next for Trump and the party?
When it comes to 2024, I mean, every indicator is he’s going to run. I fear for what that is going to do for obviously everything else, doomsday scenario. I’m really fucking sick of boomers and people that are 80 running everything. I think it’s the crux of all of America’s problems. It’s awful. And I was never a fan of age limits in politics because my father was quite old when he died in office. But I actually think 80 might be a good cutoff. That’s really old.
On a more personal note, you’ve been through a lot with parenting, but also seem to have found tremendous joy in it. Tell me more about that.
I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety. I had very severe postpartum preeclampsia. I had an emergency C-section. And I had a really hard time physically getting back to health. And then I had a hard time mentally. I felt like I was drowning for a little while when I had postpartum anxiety, which is described medically as the sister of postpartum depression.
And so [McCain’s husband] Ben [Domenech] and some of my friends said, “You’re struggling. You’re having a hard time.” And my thing was that I was so obsessed with Liberty and so consumed with her that I was scared of anything happening to her. I was scared that robbers were going to come in our house and steal her. I was worried that people were going to push me down when I was pushing her in her stroller …
You were catastrophizing …
It was very debilitating. And I got on medication. I got on anti-depressants. I went to therapy. I started doing all the tools that the doctor told me to, and then I got better, which is what happens when you follow medical advice, which is why I love my doctors!
I remember you being worried before you had Liberty that once you had kids you’d lose your freedom and your fun. And I told you, “Oh, you will. You definitely will.” But I said it wouldn’t matter in the same way.
You were so right. I mean, yeah, can I go to a casino and gamble until 2 a.m.? No. But what‘s replaced it is so much better. Everything’s way better. And I just want to be around her all the time.
I want to talk about your miscarriage. I was so proud of you for sharing that story. Why did you?
Well, this is really fucked up. I found out I was miscarrying the day after my Seth Myers appearance. It was after the show, before my photo shoot for the New York Times [Magazine] cover they did about The View. And I was obviously very upset and freaking out. But [The View] had such a severe leaking problem, I was actually really concerned that it was going to leak out onto the internet. And I was petrified that it was going to be a story in a tabloid or be turned into something like, “Meghan had a hysterical meltdown because she’s a sociopath and a lunatic, and she’s always crying and she’s just a mess.” Isn’t that fucked up?
Your husband has his critics. Did you know that he was kind of a controversial figure when you started dating?
No. I knew he was conservative. When we started dating, I started asking around to other people. There was one person in the media who had like a really … he knew him, and this person in the media is pretty well-known, and he hates Ben, and he was going around telling people that I was with this not-good dude, and he was a right-wing nut.
And it kept getting back to me. And then there’s another woman, who was a journalist, who was like, “I just keep hearing he’s a bad dude.” And I was like, “But every experience I’ve had with him is incredible and wonderful, and he’s an amazing boyfriend, so I need you to be really specific about what you’re talking about.” And then I later found out he had created websites that, if you’re liberal, you find controversial. He had been fired for a plagiarizing controversy, and that was 20 or 15 years ago, a very long time ago. And I didn’t care. I had my own shit in my background. And there were a few people in conservative circles that I know for a fact told Ben not to date me, and that I would be bad for him.
Well, do you guys bond over that? You both get a lot of heat.
He was the only man that really understood it. He was the only man that really understood the chaos and what it feels like to be loved and hated.
People associate you with Arizona. I’ve always associated you with New York, because that’s where we met. Now you live in D.C. Do you think you fit in there?
Yeah, I do. I love it here. It reminds me of my dad a lot. I wasn’t quite ready to pull the trigger to move right back to Arizona, which I’m sure I will eventually. And we have so many friends here. My in-laws are down the street. We are political people, and political people are always in and out of D.C. So it didn’t feel like it was this giant uprooting. It’s not like we moved to Texas or something.
And there is a P.F. Chang’s down at Tyson’s II [shopping mall].
It wouldn’t have so many locations if it weren’t popular. I’m not the only fucking person to eat at P.F. Chang’s. But I really like it here, I am happy here. My mom has a place here, and like I said, I spent a lot of my life here, too, growing up.
How about your career. What’s next? Do you still want to be in politics?
So I love politics more than anything. I love it way more than TV. It is much cleaner. And it’s so funny, because I used to say this to my executive producer at The View, I was like, “The View makes politics look like the easiest, most loyal [job]” because I have worked in places where people do not leak about the spheres they’re in. That whole thing can happen with principals and candidates and it never lands on the internet.
I don’t see myself being in television. I’ve finally got back to this place of being happy and content, and TV is very hard and emotionally taxing, and the best people don’t gravitate towards it.
So I would prefer, actually, if I can, to subsist in writing and maybe political consulting. I would love to work on campaigns again. And, actually, I’ve been exploring that a lot right now because it’s also a space that, for as much shit as I’ve gotten in the media, for all these negative stereotypes that we talked about, I’m taken very seriously in D.C. circles and it feels nice. It’s nice to be respected. It’s nice to be understood, especially in Republican conservative circles, because people understand all of the drama.