Meghan McCain, whose outspoken conservative views have frequently led to verbal fireworks and made for compelling television on ABC's The View, said on Thursday she is quitting the daytime talk show after four years.
McCain, daughter of the former Arizona senator John McCain, announced on the air that she would leave after the show's season ends in late July.
"I will be here another month, so if you still want to fight a little more, we have four more weeks," McCain said.
The commentator, 36, is usually the only conservative voice among the cast of five women, and not afraid to mix it up when she disagrees with them. In the past two months, for example, she's had contentious exchanges with lead host Whoopi Goldberg and frequent foil Joy Behar.
The show, invented more than two decades ago by Barbara Walters, has done well in the ratings with a mix of celebrity guests and, most prominently, the combustible "hot topics" session where they kick around the day's news.
Like many television shows during the Covid-19 pandemic, the hosts have been appearing remotely instead of meeting in a New York studio.
McCain, married to conservative commentator Ben Domenech and mother of a baby daughter, said she didn't want to leave her life in the Washington area to commute again to work.
"This was not an easy decision," she said. "It took a lot of thought and counsel and prayer."
ABC News said it respected and understood her decision, and thanked McCain for her "fierce determination and vast political knowledge and experience".
As the conservative voice on The View, McCain filled a role where producers had trouble finding the right person after Elisabeth Hasselbeck left in 2013. McCain has said she was going to turn down the offer to join The View, but her late father said it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Like her father, she’s no big fan of former president Donald Trump. But her job often compelled her to explain to her co-hosts what people who supported Trump were thinking.
“This is no shade at women who have been here before, but I knew going in that I couldn’t be intimidated by the others and their strong opinions,” she said after her first season. “These are all smart, strong women. I had to stay true to my convictions and my politics and not let the physical audience in front of me, which is normally very liberal, or the audience on social media impact my politics. Because a lot of things I say are unpopular.”
She rarely backed down, and the words between the hosts frequently became sharp.
That was evident on June 17, when McCain criticised President Joe Biden’s treatment of CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins at a news conference, for which the president later apologised. Goldberg noted that Biden’s predecessor – she refuses to say Trump’s name – never apologised, and that lit a fuse igniting a schoolyard brawl. Both hosts later apologised to each other.
In May, Behar took exception when McCain said she didn’t hear enough criticism of the spate of anti-Semitic hate crimes.
“I’ve been talking about anti-Semitism on this show for 25 freakin’ years,” Behar said. “Don’t tell me what I’m supposed to be saying, Meghan, OK? You do your thing, we do ours.”
After McCain’s announcement, Behar said they’ve had their fights but also some interesting drinking sessions.
“I have really, really appreciated the fact that you were a formidable opponent in many ways and that you spoke your mind,” Behar said. “You’re no snowflake, missy.”
On her way out, McCain criticised media coverage of The View, saying the show was covered with deep misogyny and sexism. She said if the show's hosts were five men instead of women, they'd have Pulitzer Prizes.