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Meghan McCain revealed that an infamous on-air clash with Joy Behar — atop what she said to be a toxic work environment rife with behind-the-scenes drama — led to her exit from ABC's long-running daytime talk show The View earlier this year.
Ahead of the release of her new memoir Bad Republican, the conservative political commentator (and daughter of the late senator John McCain) spoke to Variety about her decision to announce her departure from the ABC series in July, calling the program "unhinged and disorganized and rowdy" and a place where she didn't feel like her voice as a Republican was fairly balanced with those of her liberal cohosts. Atop making official complaints to human resources when unflattering behind-the-scenes stories about her leaked to the press, McCain said it was a public squabble with Behar during a live broadcast in January that finally pushed her to leave her post.
"That was the day I decided," McCain told the publication of the moment, which, during a discussion about both political parties, saw the 36-year-old joking that Behar must've missed fighting with her over ideologies while she was out caring for her new baby. The 79-year-old responded, "I did not miss you," to a visibly shaken McCain.
Heidi Gutman/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images Meghan McCain said it was a toxic work environment at 'The View.'
"I had postpartum anxiety. When I was back, I was really nervous. It was like starting TV all over again. I felt unsteady. I was trying to make a joke, 'You missed me so much.' If you watch the clip, her reaction is very sharp," McCain continued, adding that Behar didn't apologize to her, even though she cried during the commercial break and had a panic attack in her office when the show ended.
"I did end up being able to go back on-air... After the show, I went back to my office and I had a panic attack," McCain continued. "I couldn't stop crying, and I'm not always crying. I couldn't compose myself. I threw up in the garbage can. I was so overcome. This is my narrative — 'I come back from maternity leave and no one missed me.' I knew it was going to be everywhere. I was just so confused, because women when they have babies should be treated respectfully when they come back to work."
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for The View told EW: "For 25 years, The View has been a platform on air and behind the scenes for strong women. Live television and different perspectives can often lead to surprising moments, but the team is collaborative and supportive - focused on delivering an informative daily talk show to our loyal viewers."
In addition to the exchange with Behar, McCain told Variety that she felt her relationship with moderator Whoopi Goldberg deteriorate across her five-year run.
"I felt at a certain point she stopped respecting me, and it was hard," she said. "I don't know why I'm crying so much. I wish things could have been different. I know she had her own dark times. When I was on the show, she almost died of pneumonia. I wish we had better leadership that could have stopped a lot of it."
A rep for Goldberg didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
McCain said that, before departing The View, higher-ups at ABC gave her notes on her performance, and that ex-news executive Barbara Fedida (who left the company in July following an investigation into alleged racist remarks) told her to smile more and brighten up her hair and wardrobe.
"In my exit interview, the last thing I told [ABC news head Kim Godwin] is, 'You got to change the culture on the show or the culture is going to change you, Ellen style.' They've got to start changing things or it will not survive," she finished, referencing the wave of allegations of a volatile workplace environment that plagued The Ellen DeGeneres Show throughout 2020. "I don't think anyone should walk into a work environment where they feel like they can't have a bad day without it being blasted over the internet, painting them out to be a psycho. I don't think you should feel disliked or ostracized for not voting for Obama. The liberal media bubble is real. No one walks away from a giant contract like the one I had if it was good."
McCain's accusations about The View echo many of those made by fellow show alums, including those quoted in journalist Ramin Setoodeh's expository 2019 book Ladies Who Punch.
Fuller House actress Candace Cameron Bure, who filled the series' conservative panelist seat — previously occupied by Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who also faced public struggles on the program — from 2015 to 2016 recently spoke out against the pressure she felt on the show as well.
"The stress and the anxiety — I actually have a pit in my stomach right now. There was only one type of stress that I've ever felt in my life, that came from that show," Bure told current View contributor Sara Haines and former panelist Raven-Symone last week on ABC's Behind the Table podcast. "And I have PTSD, like, I can feel it. It was so difficult, and to manage that emotional stress was very, very hard."
The View airs weekdays on ABC at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT/PT. Read McCain's full interview with Variety.
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