“The View” — ABC’s daytime talk show geared toward women — is enjoying a resurgence in its ratings, thanks in part to a new executive producer focusing on politics in the Trump era and to the lone conservative voice among its bevy of liberal co-hosts.
Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain of Arizona, stands out from her TV colleagues as the panel’s only member who is not a comedian or journalist. Since her October arrival, “The View” has notched its best ratings in three seasons.
More important, some of her singular show moments caught fire on social media. Her tough Jan. 10 questioning of Michael Wolff, author of the inside the White House tell-all “Fire and Fury,” delighted conservatives in particular.
Media outlets initially fawned over Mr. Wolff’s salacious revelations about the Trump White House. Watching NBC’s Katy Tur letting the author say, “If it rings true, it is true,” without a serious rebuttal infuriated the outspoken Ms. McCain.
“I thought that was absurd,” she said in an interview with The Washington Times.
As time passed, critics on both the left and the right began attacking the book’s veracity. Ms. McCain, 33, led the charge.
“I’m proud of that moment,” she said, adding that too many journalists gave Mr. Wolff “a pass” for shoddy tactics such as sharing information collected off the record. “I’m not going to get to a level where gossip rules the day.”
Ms. McCain also pressed Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, harder than any fellow hosts on “The View” might, reminding him of his “history of misrepresenting statements from private White House meetings” after President Trump’s “s—-hole countries” controversy.
Those exchanges don’t come easily. Ms. McCain spends hours before and after each show reading all the headlines she can find.
“It’s not that I’m so disciplined,” she said. “I don’t want to be put in any position where they ask a question on the show and I don’t have at least a cursory understanding of it.”
It helps that she’s a pop culture connoisseur, given the show’s breadth of news coverage.
“When Kylie Jenner came out with the pregnancy video, of course I watched it,” she said. “Half the show is hard politics at the top, then we do lighter subjects. If you want to be a host on television, especially on ‘The View,’ you have to be well-versed in it.”
Ms. McCain credits her Republican father for her coming aboard ABC’s left-leaning talk show.
Ms. McCain said she had little interest in joining the long-running show when its producers approached her about being its sole conservative voice. Right-leaning pundit Jedediah Bila abruptly left “The View” late last year.
Mr. McCain told his daughter that she was being “crazy and ridiculous” to turn down the gig, she said. Plus, the former presidential candidate had a strong bond with “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg. He thought his daughter would relish working alongside the “Sister Act” alumna.
Father knew best, apparently.
Ms. McCain joined “The View” after having hosted Fox News’ “Outnumbered” and Pivot TV’s late-night news show “TakePart Live,” and having produced Pivot’s documentary series “Raising McCain,” in which she traveled around the country talking to regular people about issues of the day.
A social media maven with more than 500,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram, Ms. McCain also is the best-selling author of the children’s book “My Dad, John McCain” and “Dirty Sexy Politics: A True Story,” a behind-the-scenes chronicle of her father’s 2008 presidential campaign.
“The View” is known for its contentious moments, many involving former co-hosts Rosie O’Donnell and conservative commentator Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Tensions run high when the conservative Ms. McCain squares off against her liberal co-hosts now. One of her co-hosts in particular knows how to decompress from those fiery exchanges.
“I’ve never met a woman who shakes off something that happens like Joy Behar,” Ms. McCain said. “We can really go at it … but as soon as it clicks to the commercial, she’s on to the next thing. She doesn’t care. I appreciate and value that in her. I’m less good at that. … I don’t have an easy time shaking things off in the news. I do take it personally.”
Case in point: her staunch pro-life views, which she refuses to dilute for the show or its audience.
“They assume a 33-year-old woman who works in television and lives in New York City [is pro-choice],” Ms. McCain said. “I’m not scared to talk about it. … I have serious problems with many, many ways it’s talked about on television. I like presenting [that perspective] to an audience.”