Last week, many celebrities and media figures spread messages in support of Asian Americans in light of the growing wave of violence towards the communities that led to the recent shootings in Atlanta. HBO's John Oliver pointed to one such celebrity during Sunday's Last Week Tonight, Meghan McCain, who he says highlights how certain rhetoric has been "giving space" for violent sentiments to flourish.
On Wednesday, McCain tweeted a graphic that read, "Stop Asian Hate." However, Oliver pointed to a segment from The View, for which McCain serves as a host, from March 2020 in which McCain said she had no problem with then-President Donald Trump calling COVID-19 the "China virus."
Courtesy of HBO John Oliver addressed Meghan McCain's anti-Asian violence tweet on HBO's "Last Week Tonight."
"I think if the left wants to focus on P.C. labeling this virus, it is a great way to get Trump re-elected," McCain said in the resurfaced video. "I don't have a problem with people calling it whatever they want. It's a deadly virus that did originate in Wuhan."
In the full video from 2020, McCain added, "I don't have a problem with it, and I think China, had they acted right away, and we had more access to information, maybe it wouldn't have gotten to the place that it is. That doesn't mean that we should be, in any way...."
"Pointing fingers," Whoopi Goldberg chimed in.
McCain reiterated she wasn't "a proponent" of racial profiling but said she doesn't want to let China "off the hook."
TRUMP CALLS COVID-19 “CHINESE VIRUS”: After sparking criticism for using the term, the president defended himself saying he “had to call it where it came from” — the co-hosts react. https://t.co/5ED5cehetN pic.twitter.com/az5HXhHmyH
— The View (@TheView) March 18, 2020
"Oh good! Meghan McCain doesn't have a problem with it," Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "Listen not to the scores of Asian Americans telling everyone that the term is dangerous and offensive. Instead, gather around and take the word of a wealthy white woman who's dressed like she's about to lay off 47 people over Zoom." (The "47 people over Zoom" jab seems to be in reference to BuzzFeed laying off 47 staffers from The Huffington Post after its acquisition.)
Speaking to McCain's recent tweet, Oliver said "it's a fine sentiment to throw up on Twitter after the fact," but argued "there has to be an understanding that saying, 'I don't have a problem with calling it the China virus' is very much giving space for hate to grow."
"Meghan condemns the reprehensible violence and vitriol that has been targeted towards the Asian American community," McCain's representative told EW in a statement. "There is no doubt Donald Trump's racist rhetoric fueled many of these attacks and she apologizes for any past comments that aided that agenda."
Oliver addressed anti-Asian violence in America in a larger segment.
"Our long, ugly history of anti-Asian racism and the fact that it often peaks during times of crisis is the exact reason why, just last year, many were loudly warning that Trump calling COVID names like the 'China virus' was likely to lead to a rise in violence against people of Asian descent — an argument that not everyone, at the time, seemed to find convincing," he said.
This article has been updated with a statement from McCain.