A conversation on The View about Asian American representation in Joe Biden’s cabinet turned personal on Wednesday when Meghan McCain used the opportunity to express her fears that “identity politics” could leave her without a job.
Each of the show’s panel members seemed to agree that it was entirely appropriate for Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono to demand the Biden administration diversity its high-level staff, with Sunny Hostin saying she “didn’t see anything wrong with it” and Sara Haines calling it “the right thing to do.”
But when it was McCain’s turn to speak, she said she “truly believes” that only the “most qualified” people should be running departments “like national security and infrastructure, things that literally are the meat and potatoes that make the country great.”
“I believe what makes American exceptional is the fact that we’re a meritocracy, that you can be anything,” she continued, making an argument that completely discounted the existence of systemic racism. “That you can come from anywhere and go and have success in any capacity. And I think the question Democrats have to reconcile with right now is whether or not race and gender are more important than qualification.”
If there is someone who is “more qualified who happens to be a white straight person who has more experience” in their field than a “minority with less experience,” McCain wondered, should that matter? After a digression about Asian American students supposedly being discriminated against by Harvard and a warning about a “slippery slope,” she inevitably made the discussion about herself.
“Just to put a cap on this, The View is 25 years old next year. We’ve only had one Asian American host co-host this show,” McCain said, referring to Lisa Ling, who spent three years on the show from 1999-2002. “So does that mean that one of one of us should be leaving because there’s not enough representation? Is identity politics more important than the qualifications for the job? And I think that’s a question going forward that the progressive left is going to have to reconcile.”
After a break, Hostin fired back directly at her co-host, noting that while we would “all love for this country to be a meritocracy,” the reality is that it has never been one.
“It’s not about gender and race being more important than qualifications,” Hostin said. “It’s about the fact that they are many qualified women and minority candidates that never get the opportunity because of the advancement of generally white male mediocrity, because of things like legacy.”
The irony, of course, is that Meghan McCain’s “identity” as the daughter of the late Sen. John McCain—something that she never fails to bring up on the show—has played a defining role in her media career. But she seemed to be implying that while she got her gig purely based on “merit,” the same could not be said for any Asian American co-host that could conceivably replace her.
As CNN’s Abby Phillip tweeted in response, “There have been more View co-hosts who are children of famous people than view co-hosts who are Asian. Does she really think that’s because there aren’t enough Asian people with the right qualifications?”
And if McCain’s defensive complaints on Wednesday sounded oddly specific, it’s because there have been multiple calls for The View to specifically replace her with an Asian American co-host over the past several days after John Oliver exposed the hypocrisy of her posting #StopAsianHate after defending Donald Trump’s use of racist terms like “China virus” almost exactly a year earlier.
McCain ultimately issued an apology the day after that Last Week Tonight segment aired, tweeting, “I condemn the reprehensible violence and vitriol that has been targeted towards the Asian American community. There is no doubt Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric fueled many of these attacks and I apologize for any past comments that aided that agenda.”
Now, she’s evidently worried that won’t be enough to save her job.