Meghan McCain is having a moment. In the past month, the pundit and co-host of “The View” tweeted a meme-worthy response to fellow conservative Denise McAllister’s criticism of her show: “you were at my wedding Denise.” Then McCain received a collective online scolding for getting a bit too snippy with co-host Joy Behar — and, as a result, was bestowed the ultimate pop culture stamp of approval with a lampooning by “Saturday Night Live.”
Remember when everyone thought she was nothing more than a famous politician’s kid? Over more than a decade, the scion of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has slowly but surely established herself as a force in her own right. Love or hate her, she is the conservative equivalent of an Instagram filter: Sometimes she makes Republicans look good, and sometimes, well, she doesn’t. Either way, Meghan McCain is always there, willing to give it a shot despite the hits she takes.
As one of the few conservative voices on “The View,” McCain is reliably right-wing in a Manhattan studio that doesn’t always cheer her hot takes on immigration. And she has managed to avoid the Fox News track, where young-ish conservative voices often get stuck.
For too long conservatives ignored popular culture in favor of politics, staging their battlegrounds on cable news instead of daytime or primetime TV. It’s what made Megyn Kelly’s move to NBC’s “Today” groundbreaking, albeit an eventual fail for both the network and the news anchor. The same could be said of ABC’s reboot of “Roseanne,” a show geared toward Trump voters who happen to watch something aside from Fox News. Much like Kelly, Roseanne Barr herself wasn’t ready for primetime and got the ax after a Twitter flameout. Yet McCain, the daytime antidote to Tomi Lahren and Ann Coulter, is still standing, or sitting at the table, as it were.
I interviewed McCain in 2014 when she had fewer than 250,000 Twitter followers (she now has 664,000) and a gig hosting a show on the Pivot TV network, which no one knew then either. She was just a few days shy of her 30th birthday and still attempting to escape her dad’s shadow. “The thing about having famous parents is like, yeah, it’ll open some doors, but you have to, like, break the doors down with your high heel and go into it and make it happen,” she said at the time. Today, McCain has turned a blog she penned documenting dear old Dad’s 2008 presidential bid into a full-fledged media career.
Another presidential election — 2016 — helped boost her profile. In “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View,’ ” McCain admits that the president makes her “job a little easier.” “If Trump wasn’t president, I don’t think I would be successful here,” says McCain in the book. “For that reason, I guess I’m grateful that Trump is president.” It’s no secret that McCain isn’t a fan of Trump, who has repeatedly insulted her father, who died in August. McCain and Trump are at odds on basically everything — even SNL, an institution that he hates and she sees as a powerful tool. (Being parodied by SNL was, she wrote on Twitter, “a huge pop cultural honor.”)
“She defies stereotypes about what it means to be a conservative and what young women are supposed to think,” says Karin Agness Lips, founder of the Network of Enlightened Women, a conservative group for college women. Indeed, McCain — an Ivy League graduate who likes high heels and fly-fishing — is both clearly on the right and, like her father, very much her own thinker.
Inez Feltscher Stepman, a senior policy analyst at the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, says that McCain’s point of view is rarely presented as rational, particularly in women-focused media. “Everyone who is modern and chic and reasonable is on the left and on the covers of fashion magazines,” she says, referring to current media darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Ocasio-Cortez’s views, which lean to the extreme left, are presented as mainstream, she adds, “but voices like Meghan’s are not until now.”
According to Feltscher Stepman, conservatives feel left out by the “progressive assumption” that general audiences are by default liberal-leaning. McCain is out in front every weekday — pushing back against that very assumption.
Helena Andrews-Dyer is co-author of The Post’s Reliable Source column.