Kylie Cheung

Meghan McCain is still milking 'The View' — says she was 'bullied' out of a job

Since Megan McCain aired her many grievances with "The View" in a newly released excerpt from her forthcoming audio memoir, the "Bad Republican" author is making it clear she stands by her words.

She's since been making the rounds to promote her book, and this included an an appearance on Wednesday's "Watch What Happens Life." Host Andy Cohen mostly provided McCain and her friend and CNN contributor S.E. Cupp, with a safe space to complain about being bullied for holding harmful views — but at different points, he challenged McCain on her own inconsistencies, and exhibiting the same behaviors and opportunism she accused others at "The View" of.

At no point does Cohen ask the question we've all wanted to ask McCain, namely that, if she has the right to espouse racist, ignorant and generally deeply harmful views, do people not have the right to dislike her for this? Nonetheless, the interview does deliver a number of revealing insights — between McCain's usual bouts of self-pitying, of course.

Salon breaks done some of those more revealing moments below:

"On a 1-to-10 scale, how hypocritical" is McCain's memoir?

At one rather uncomfortable point in the interview, Cohen asks McCain point-blank, "On a 1-to-10 scale, how hypocritical is it that you wrote a tell-all after prefacing every tell-all interview on 'The View' with 'I hate tell-alls?'"

It's a fair question, even if it might have surprised McCain. Political memoir authors were often guests at "The View," and McCain nearly always had words for them, accusing them of just trying to get a paycheck. In particular, McCain had viciously sparred with Mary Trump, author of a tell-all memoir about her uncle, former President Donald Trump, which became a bestseller and rocked the political media.

"You know, those are political tell-alls," she responds, which . . . doesn't exactly distinguish her memoir at all from these, and certainly ignores how McCain herself is a political media figure, whether she wants to see herself that way or not. The title of her book is quite literally "Bad Republican," and she can't go two sentences without name-dropping her father, the late Sen. John McCain. When Cohen follows up on his question about whether McCain sees her own hypocrisy, she replies, "I don't, but it's OK if other people do. I don't really care."

As for her relationships with Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg, who McCain had particularly called out for their harsh on-air interactions with her on "The View," McCain says, "I think this stuff has been blown up . . . I adore Whoopi. She's an American icon. I have more love for her than anything else. I just wanted to explain myself and the things that happen."

McCain and her memoir, of course, are a big part of why these conflicts have been "blown up."

McCain can hold a grudge

Years after her father's funeral, McCain is still pissed about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner "crashing" it. It's a fair sentiment, but it was surprising to see how fresh McCain's anger is toward the couple.

"They had no goddamn business being there and it still angers me, clearly," she says, owing to her family's long-running conflict with the Trumps because of the former president's penchant for criticizing and bullying her father.

McCain also talks about finding solace in Trump's electoral loss in Arizona in 2020, meaning "all is well now" — despite, of course, how her own husband says that McCain herself didn't vote for Biden in Arizona.

Speaking of hypocrisy, is "Bad Republican" pro-women?

McCain wants to convince audiences her book isn't like other tell-all books that trash former friends and colleagues in political media. McCain's friend, Cupp, cites Katie Couric's memoir as an example of supposedly attacking other women, prompting Cohen to turn to McCain and ask how her memoir is any different.

"Do you think your book could be looked at as not pro-women?" Cohen asks. McCain responds with a question of her own: "Is it pro-women to work in an environment where, because you have a different political opinion, you are leaked about every day?" McCain shot back, not exactly answering the question.

At this point, it's difficult to discern any value in interviewing McCain further, who's clearly unwilling to consider her own double standards applied toward herself and others. As she almost rightly points out, being "pro-women" isn't about being unilaterally nice to everyone or to all institutions just because they are or are led by women, and being critical of everyone and everything that warrants criticism.

In McCain's case, she drags the names of her co-hosts through the mud for supposedly bullying her, without the context of the views she holds and the words she said that warranted these challenges from other ladies at "The View." But in more simple terms, as McCain sees it, she and she alone can be "pro-women" and attack other women. Any other woman who does this is just trying to sell a memoir.

Surprising bonds with and respect for Rachel Maddow, Hillary Clinton

In a true testament to McCain's identity as a "Bad Republican," she has only kind words to say about some of the more liberal public figures who are women. For one, she calls MSNBC host Rachel Maddowa "broadcasting genius" and "one of the greatest ever."

Of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, McCain discloses that the two have actually *gasp* had dinner together now that she has a newfound respect for the former First Lady.

"I was very judgmental of Hillary Clinton before I was on 'The View,' and I regret it. I feel like once you're a woman in media and you feel the egregious sexism, I related to her in a different way," she says. "There are some things I've said that I would definitely take back."


In particular, Cohen brings up McCain's experience giving a eulogy at her father's funeral, and the support McCain had received from Clinton, who smiled up at her, at that time. "I adore her for that," McCain said. "I didn't know how I was doing, and it really made me feel good."

Who does McCain want to replace her at a "toxic" workplace like "The View"?

McCain has made it clear she'd like to see her friend Cupp take her place at "The View" — which prompts Cohen to interrogate why, if the show truly is as toxic as McCain claims, she'd like her friend to suffer through that.

"It's a great platform," McCain responds, simply.

Cohen then asks McCain whether she takes any responsibility for the "toxicity" on the show, to which McCain predictably responds, "Only one person was bullied out of their job and doesn't work there anymore." Sure, Jan.

You can watch some of the interview below via YouTube.

Meghan McCain: I Was Bullied Out of My Job at 'The View' | WWHL www.youtube.com

Michael Che and the 'edgy' male comedian's obsession with rape jokes

On Thursday evening, as the world continued to needlessly react to Olympic champion Simone Biles' decision to withdraw from the women's gymnastics team all-around final for her safety, "Saturday Night Live" star and self-identified comedian Michael Che for some reason felt qualified to speak on the matter. In a series of since-deleted, truly heinous Instagram stories that were screengrabbed, Che posted he had "like 3 mins of Simone Biles jokes in my head," which he then unwisely let out of his head.

"I'm going to the [comedy] cellar tonight to say them into a microphone. As the dorky kids say, I'm choosing violence," the post reads. What followed was a series of "jokes" dunking on Biles' mental health, and comparing her step back from the Olympics to Larry Nassar's conviction. Nassar is a household name for sexually assaulting scores of young, female gymnasts — including Biles herself.

Notably, conservatives who have always for some reason found it appropriate to bully Biles, a survivor of sexual assault who's been open about her mental health struggles, have been harsher toward Biles than they ever were toward the man who abused her. But Che's so-called joke takes this twisted, racist and sexist hatred of Biles — and really, all survivors — to another level.

Che may be backtracking on the Instagram posts now – claiming he was hacked in the wake of massive backlash – but his jokes would be perfectly in line with his history of sexist, transphobic and otherwise offensive jokes punching down at the marginalized, rather than up at the abusive and powerful, which he's faced backlash for spewing, before. Che is hardly the only male comedian who's asserted their rights to make fun of victims, children, LGBTQ folks, and the powerless, in the name of comedy and edginess. Some male comedians have maintained a fondness for and defensiveness of rape "jokes," in particular.

Louis CK, who was outed early on at the rise of the #MeToo movement for sexually harassing and masturbating in front of women without their consent, has notoriously written rape "jokes" into comedy sets, and defended a fellow male comedian who did so. In one of CK's first sets back after his #MeToo exposure prompted him to take a step back, he launched into a bizarre rant about political correctness and dunked on trans kids.

Of course, when people and especially white comics like CK bemoan "PC culture," what they're really whining about is a culture in which marginalized people increasingly feel empowered enough to speak up about mistreatment and abusive language they've long been expected to shoulder without complaint. Yet, that progress is erased when we fixate on what powerful white men and childish comedians are supposedly no longer allowed to say without consequences.

Specific to rape "jokes," let's be clear: any issue or topic can be the subject of a joke, if done right. Leading feminist thinkers from writer Rebecca Solnit to comic Samantha Bee have been showing this for years, and survivors often tell the most devastating and hilarious rape jokes of all. But what makes these jokes resonant, substantive, and not more of the same misogynistic abuse is that they make fun of and criticize perpetrators of sexual violence, in addition to the greater rape culture that breeds this violence and shields abusers from accountability.

In a comedy special called "Rape Jokes," performed at the height of the #MeToo movement in 2018, comedian and survivor Cameron Esposito recounts the story of her own sexual assault, her life after it, and throws in jokes about how sexual assault is often portrayed onscreen. "She's assaulted and then she becomes very good at swords," Esposito said. "That was not my experience. I stayed the same amount good at swords: expert." She also slammed male comics who have cried "censorship" when faced with backlash over their offensive "jokes" or behaviors.

"That's the wrong word," Esposito said. "Feedback. You have gotten feedback."

No survivor's path to healing is the same; some find comfort coming forward, reporting their experiences or sharing them very publicly, while others never tell anyone. But Esposito certainly isn't the only survivor of sexual trauma who's found comfort, laughter and community by making jokes at the expense of rape culture, rather than the estimated one in five women who is a victim of rape or attempted rape.

The "jokes" shared on Che's Instagram story, on the other hand, reflect the worst and most reductive interpretation of comedy possible — the punchline of choice is the young, Black sexual assault victim he's chosen to mock and dehumanize.

To state the obvious, this is what traditional, sexist rape jokes are all about; their purpose is to embarrass and exert social power over rape victims. Embarrassment is a natural feeling and instinctive response to when someone degrades you, or takes away your power. And it's precisely the intention of perpetrators of sexual harm to make their victims feel embarrassed, because when someone is embarrassed, they don't talk about what they've experienced. It's this embarrassment, this culture of stigma and shame that's long protected abusers from any sort of accountability.

Yet, at the end of the day, as the comedy of women like Esposito has shined a critical light on, when it comes to acts of sexual harm, the only people who should feel embarrassed are the perpetrators. Being victimized is not a moral failure, nor a joke, nor in the least bit embarrassing. What is embarrassing is to participate in rape culture, to be complicit in rape culture, certainly, to tell jokes at the expense of rape victims. Not only are CK, Che, and others in their ilk of "edgy," male, so-called comedians woefully unfunny, they're also just deeply embarrassing people.

The slow, punishing arc of 'The Handmaid’s Tale' mirrors our struggle for reproductive rights

After almost two years, Hulu's "Handmaid's Tale" returned for its fourth season in April, picking up right where it left off throughout its last three seasons of gratuitous violence with minimal plot payoff. Wednesday's episode follows June's escape from Gilead into refuge in Canada, as she will reunite with loved ones and figures from her past after years of separation and recycled plotlines.

Set in the fictional dystopia of Gilead, "The Handmaid's Tale" depicts America's future after a civil war and takeover by religious political extremists who relegate all women to "handmaids," or baby incubators for powerful men and their wives. Handmaids are denied access to education, or really any basic human rights or bodily autonomy, which has consistently helped the Hulu drama strike a chord amid ongoing, escalating attacks on reproductive rights in the U.S. In light of the current political climate around abortion, the series' fourth season, in which protagonist June (Elisabeth Moss) has continued her seemingly endless quest to take down Gilead, couldn't have come at a more relevant time.

As the latest season continues to unfold, the arc of "The Handmaid's Tale" itself has been one that's achingly familiar to reproductive rights advocates — slow, repetitive, and with little progress through the years, much like the ongoing struggle for abortion access and autonomy for pregnant people. In the decades since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, abortion access has declined, with 90% of counties lacking an abortion provider today, and maternal mortality rates increasing over the years in states with more restrictions on reproductive rights, especially for people of color. Over and over, just as we watch the same triggering violence against women occur on "The Handmaid's Tale," we watch as anti-abortion politicians and activists employ the same tactics to block or stigmatize abortion care — tactics that range from burdensome to violent.

Just ahead of Wednesday's episode, Texas signed into law one of the most uniquely extreme abortion bans in the nation, which would ban abortion care before many people know they're pregnant, and give any U.S. citizen authority to sue someone who's had an abortion, provided one, or helped someone get one. The Supreme Court, which holds a 6-3 anti-abortion majority, announced it would hear a case on a 15-week abortion ban, which threatens to overturn fundamental protections created by Roe v. Wade. And in just one week of last month, states passed a record-breaking 28 restrictions on abortion, setting 2021 up to be one of the most dangerous years for reproductive rights in recent history.

In other words, the dystopian politics of Gilead aren't as far off as some may believe — not when state-directed reproductive coercion and policing of pregnancies are already a reality, especially for communities of color and the poor. One of the most recurring criticisms of the show, made by women of color, is the white feminism inherent to its premise that pregnancy coercion, dehumanization, and systemic denial of autonomy are elements of a far-off dystopia, rather than reality for many women and pregnant people of color. After all, just last summer, it was reported that a doctor working with ICE had been subjecting detained migrant women to forced sterilizations. Before that, a jail in Tennessee came under fire for pressuring incarcerated women, who are disproportionately Black and brown, to undergo sterilizations.

In the context of pregnancy and reproductive rights, the terrifying surveillance state apparatuses of Gilead also already exist for pregnant people in the U.S. Forty-six states currently require some form of reporting of abortion care to the state government — at the end of last year, Ohio became one of these states by signing a law that would require people who have abortions to obtain a death certificate for their aborted fetus, therefore entering their abortion into public record. And as more and more people use medication abortion, in the form of abortion pills that can safely be taken from home, anti-abortion legislation has become especially risky for people who experience miscarriage, stillbirth or other pregnancy complications. Medication abortions happen through inducing a miscarriage, meaning even natural loss of pregnancy could draw government investigation and criminalization if Roe were reversed.

The targeted criminalization of disproportionately women of color for pregnancy loss, or self-induced abortions with medication, is already happening. In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases in which women have been jailed or criminally charged for pregnancy loss, from Marshae Jones, a Black woman who was jailed for losing her pregnancy after being shot in the stomach in 2019, to Amber Abreu, a Latina teenager who faced felony charges for "procuring a miscarriage" for using abortion pills in 2007. In 2015, Purvi Patel, an Indian-American woman, became the first person to be sent to prison for inducing an abortion in the post-Roe era, contradictorily charged with feticide and child abuse for using medication abortion in 2013.

Just as "The Handmaid's Tale" has spent years bombarding audiences with gratuitous torture scenes and the same cycle of June and her supporters plotting in vain to be free, it feels as if each state legislative session, we cycle through the same abortion bans, the same state-directed anti-abortion counseling laws, mandatory waiting period laws, clinic shutdown laws, and more. And while it's important to recognize any law that would force someone to be pregnant for one minute longer than they want to be is dehumanizing – even by the standards of Gilead – some of today's abortion bills are particularly extreme.

In recent years, Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, and other states have tried to pass bills to make abortion punishable by the death penalty. Texas' latest abortion ban would essentially have civilians take on the role of Gilead's secret police, or the "Eyes of God," by policing and suing those who have abortions. Several abortion providers have been assassinated as recently as 2009, while abortion clinics are routinely vandalized, and staff and patients routinely doxed and threatened.

For years, reproductive rights advocates, who are disproportionately women and pregnant-capable people, have been dismissed as hysterical for sounding the alarm on the political war on our bodies, even with Roe technically still in place. As recently as 2018, ahead of Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court, a survey found 62% of voters believed it wasn't likely Roe v. Wade would be dismantled.

The premise of "The Handmaid's Tale," itself, portraying a surveillance state that eliminates reproductive rights as a dystopian fictional world rather than a modern reality, may inadvertently reinforce this gaslighting. (To its credit, a flashback to present-day, pre-Gilead America in the Season 4 episode "Milk" depicts the deceptive tactics of anti-abortion fake clinics.)

As this "Handmaid's Tale" season winds down, and finally delivers some highly anticipated resolutions and storyline progress, we can only hope we'll someday witness progress for our reproductive rights, in the real world. However unpleasant and tiresome the Hulu drama can be, the grit and ceaseless resistance of its handmaids remains inspiring, and certainly reminds us of the leaders and activists for reproductive rights and justice today.

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