January 26, 2022

Meghan McCain, The View and the Loneliness of the TV Conservative

5 min read


Meghan McCain is making waves this week for describing her former job at ABC’s The View as a “toxic work environment.”

I think many Individuals might imagine that McCain is loopy to stroll away from a dream job that pays hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to be on TV just a few hours per week. These of us might even see her choice as evidence she’s spoiled and privileged. Others would possibly suppose she’s fragile or weak for quitting.

As a fellow conservative who has (all too usually) been outnumbered on TV, I can perceive why she walked away—and I think she made the perfect choice for her psychological and bodily well being and her younger household (in her new e book, Unhealthy Republican, McCain says that a part of the story entails postpartum anxiousness, however she additionally recounts hurtful experiences with co-hosts reminiscent of Pleasure Behar and Whoopi Goldberg). Though I don’t fake to know what her life at The View was like, I think my very own experiences have, to some extent, knowledgeable my opinion.

First, although, it’s price discussing the advantage of being a token conservative. In case your position is solely to play the “heel”—a villainous patsy who’s paid to lose—it’s not well worth the cash. However for those who’re there to push again on group-think and supply philosophical variety, as McCain usually did, this position could be extremely useful and mutually useful.

Nonetheless, this position has gotten more and more fraught as “mainstream” networks have shifted to a fan-service mannequin. In case you are a conservative on a liberal TV community, you’ll virtually all the time be outnumbered; the host and his or her producers—who dominate the present and the subject choice—may even not share your politics. As McCain told Vanity Fair of her expertise on The View, “It was a lot more durable to get [topics she wanted to discuss] on-air as a result of all of the producers are liberal, all of the [other] hosts are liberal. The excuse is extra individuals picked that matter. In fact! I’m outnumbered.”

What’s worse, expressing even a mainstream conservative viewpoint today is usually interpreted as a severe character flaw. In spite of everything, for those who don’t assist progressive insurance policies throughout the board (no matter they might be), it might probably’t merely be as a result of you’ve a unique philosophy. You’re assumed to be a hate-monger, a typically dangerous particular person.

A number of instances through the years on numerous mainstream cable shops I got here away from a TV hit feeling crushed down and shamed due to my worldview. One time, after suggesting that a whole lot of males are nonetheless grappling with understanding what the brand new #MeToo guidelines are (suppose Aziz Ansari or Al Franken), liberal panelists acted like I used to be a possible predator who had simply defended Harvey Weinstein. One other time, throughout what felt just like the zillionth section in regards to the 2017 Girls’s March, I steered that younger working-class males are arguably dealing with larger challenges than ladies. I famous that they’re being left behind by women who attain higher education levels and are more and more deemed “unmarriageable.” As a substitute of being applauded for providing a counterintuitive perception, this assertion was mocked and dismissed by the host.

On one other event, I received into two fights with two totally different hosts on the identical day as a result of I dared to consult with the protesters who chased Ted Cruz and his spouse out of a DC restaurant as a “mob.” The second time, issues received so heated that CNN’s Don Lemon, whom I typically received alongside effectively with, advised me to “shut up.” This was type of like Whoopi Goldberg telling McCain, “Girl, please stop talking!” besides, not like McCain, I used to be not a co-host.

What I skilled was par for the course (politics ain’t beanbag), although nonetheless irritating on a day-to-day foundation. Others have suffered far worse. I recall one event just a few years in the past, once I was on set with a bunch of panelists, together with a full-fledged pro-MAGA pundit. Throughout our section, one among his feminine interlocutors feigned submitting her nails on the break up display as he talked. Issues had been even worse when the digicam went off, when not one however two of his feminine counterparts took turns berating him. He tried to patch issues up and extricate himself, however they wouldn’t allow him to squirm away. I went to the lavatory, solely to search out one of many different panelists, a distinguished liberal commentator, lingering there. As I approached the urinal, he defined to me he wasn’t there to go: “I’m simply hiding.”

Folks suppose TV is glamorous—and it may be—however, for the conservative commentator (who isn’t on Fox Information), it typically feels extra like a lonely, pride-swallowing and soul-crushing expertise. This grew to become even more true within the Trump period—even supposing neither McCain or I are followers of the previous man. That’s why I don’t blame McCain for feeling perpetually unhappy and humiliated—or for strolling away from what feels like a dramatically worse surroundings than the one to which I fortunately subjected myself.

In case your on a regular basis work life entails being outnumbered, roughed up, and advised your views are loopy or harmful (it doesn’t matter how irenic you might be) it’s, over time, extremely demoralizing and exhausting. It should impression the best way you view your self. It should undermine your confidence, which is the one factor you want most within the superficial enterprise of being on display.

Folks wish to get on TV to allow them to really feel superior, not to allow them to be villainized. In case you had sufficient cash, fame, and stature to stroll away from that surroundings, why wouldn’t you? McCain must be a masochist to remain.

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