Meghan McCain on Monday rallied to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s defense following his contentious exchange with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly, which resulted in Pompeo accusing the NPR host of lying.
After Pompeo refused to support former U.S Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch when Kelly pressed him in a Friday interview, the NPR host revealed that the secretary profanely berated her afterwards and challenged her to find Ukraine on an unmarked map.
Pompeo, meanwhile, accused Kelly of lying to him twice, claiming they agreed the interview would only be about Iran and that his after-interview tantrum would remain off-the-record. (Emails, however, support Kelly’s account that she never agreed to only cover specific topics with Pompeo.)
Discussing the controversy on Monday’s broadcast of the ABC talk-show, the majority of the panel sided with Kelly, noting that Pompeo had already lost all credibility with the media and that it is implausible to think Kelly wouldn’t be able to find Ukraine on a map considering she has a degree in European studies.
“It feels like the administration is loaded with bullies,” liberal co-host Joy Behar declared. “He’s another one with a short fuse. This guy [Attorney General William] Barr is a bully. He’s a bully. Pompeo is a bully. Trump himself is a bully. It’s like an organized-crime organization.”
McCain, meanwhile, suggested the fault likely lies with Kelly and NPR, pointing to another recent interview in which a famous guest ditched.
“There’s a weird pattern right now of people walking out of NPR interviews,” she said. “Remember—we talked on the show—Adam Driver did it, because something he asked not to be played was played.”
“This is now the second notable person that’s walking out of NPR, so I don’t know what’s going on over at NPR,” McCain continued. “I will say if you go into an interview and you’re someone like Mike Pompeo and you say, ‘I want to talk about this, I don’t want to talk about this,’ and you agree ahead of time and that journalist breaks the agreement, I can understand how you would get frustrated. I didn’t think he sounded that angry either.”
After Behar said Pompeo did get angry after the interview, McCain equivocated that while that is “ridiculous as well,” there is a “breakdown between the trust between the media and the White House right now, I think is because of this, because you have journalists reporting off-the-record information all the time.”
Co-host Whoopi Goldberg, however, interjected to point out that Kelly has all of the communication between her and Pompeo’s team.
“He has denied it,” McCain shot back. “It is a he said, she said.”
Goldberg went on to say that NPR seems like the last place someone should be concerned with. This particular incident isn’t “showing the spread of people being disrespectful,” she said, adding that Pompeo had previously shown dishonesty with the media when he “played dumb” with ABC’s Martha Raddatz when asked about Trump’s call with Ukraine.
“It's also interesting, like, how else can you hold these people accountable?” Behar jumped in. “You finally have one of the players in your sight and you have to ask him the question that he doesn't want to answer. That's what journalists do.”
“Yeah, but I also think journalists are supposed to be unbiased in their questioning and if you already have an opinion that he's a piece of crap and he’s horrible,” McCain huffed.
“We don’t know that was her opinion,” Goldberg countered.