'The View' Cast Is Getting Used to Being in the Eye of the Political Storm
In Trump's America, co-host Joy Behar gets called out by the White House and Meghan McCain reacts to an administration staffer's attack on her father.
On Wednesday, The View was brought up not once, but twice, at the White House briefing podium.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, channeling her boss's attack earlier in the day on Disney CEO Bob Iger, asked why he hadn't apologized "to Christians around the world for Joy Behar calling Christianity a 'mental illness'?" She also criticized comedian Kathy Griffin for comments she made on The View.
Months before conservatives went after TBS for comments made by Samantha Bee and ABC for cancelling Roseanne Barr's show, Behar was attacked for a botched joke she made about Vice President Mike Pence's faith. (She spoke with Pence on the phone and apologized on TV multiple times.)
In another administration, the mention of a morning talk show in a briefing that also included updates on FBI "spying" and nuclear negotiations with North Korea would be surprising — less so during the first 16 months of Donald Trump's term.
"I think there is an issue with comedians right now, though, that comedians are under fire and everybody's watching us," Behar said in a cast interview this week with The Hollywood Reporter. "And it is treacherous territory, which I never felt that way before."
The View co-host Sunny Hostin assessed the hostile media-political landscape thusly: "We stand by what we say, but we say it in context, and people [often] take it out of context, and that's a real problem."
Meghan McCain, who joined the cast in October as the token political conservative, said her fellow co-hosts don't fear inciting a backlash. "Nobody here is scared of anything," she said. "We wouldn't be hosts if we were."
Controversy has touched all ends of the political spectrum. Behar pointed out that one of her critics, Fox News host Laura Ingraham, "almost just get fired herself" after mocking Florida high school shooting survivor David Hogg on Twitter. (The network ultimately backed Ingraham, who weathered the backlash.)
The View has also made news in interviews with political heavyweights like former FBI Director James Comey, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and possible future candidates such as Sens. Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren.
The hosts believe in the 5-on-1 interview format and take pride in pushing newsmakers hard, trying to elicit interesting information that might otherwise be purely self-promotional. This season, the show is up over the same period last year in ratings, averaging 2.9 million total viewers a morning.
"People know what they're coming to here," said Whoopi Goldberg, along with Behar one of the elder stateswomen of the group. "We try to be as respectful as we can, but people know this is not a place you can sort of skate through."
"I take pride in that, the fact that this is not a safe space for anyone," said McCain.
The daughter of Arizona Sen. John McCain used the May 11 episode to give an exclusive response to reports that a White House communications staffer made a tasteless and inappropriate "joke" about the health of her ailing father.
Meghan McCain said she was "really hesitant" to join the cast, but she has thrived on the show and feels supported by her colleagues. "I've had some really tough times backstage, not knowing if I'd come out here, and I know all these women have my back," she said.
While The View, like most other television shows, has grown heavier with politics with Trump in the White House, Goldberg said it's not a conscious programming choice. "I think we're just trying to talk about shit that nobody's talking about," she said.
Both Behar and Goldberg admitted to having "Trump fatigue," and Behar said the show would have no problem finding stuff to talk about in the event that the president is not re-elected in 2020. (Trump has said multiple times he thinks the media needs and wants him to stick around.)
"We got along without him before we met him; we'll get along without him now," Behar said.