ABC bosses have made no secret of their desire for Meghan McCain to stick around for The View’s new season.
But McCain declined to announce her plans on Monday when the female-focused daytime show resumed live broadcasts after a weeklong Fourth of July hiatus.
The 34-year-old McCain’s future with The View was pointedly ignored by moderator Whoopi Goldberg and regular cohosts Joy Behar and Sunny Hostin—never mind that it’s arguably the show’s hottest topic since The Daily Beast reported last week that McCain is considering quitting, and feeling like an “exhausted” and “defeated... caged animal” amid a steady stream of unflattering leaks about her allegedly boorish and “unhinged” off-camera behavior.
A knowledgeable source told The Daily Beast that McCain is genuinely ambivalent about keeping her well-paid gig—something under a million dollars a year—as long as hit pieces continue to appear in gossipy tabloid stories, especially on the highly-trafficked web site of the London-based Daily Mail.
The Daily Beast understands that McCain is not playing hard-to-get as a negotiating ploy, but rather is seeking assurances from ABC and View execs that they will stop the leaks.
These leaks have become emotionally draining for McCain, who has experienced her share of turmoil over the past two years, including the brain-cancer death of her famous father, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and the periodic post-mortem attacks on him by the president, Donald Trump.
While members of her team have been encouraging her to continue on the show, McCain—The View’s resident conservative Republican—is mulling over the emotional costs versus the professional opportunity of appearing on a daily show—dubbed the “most important political show on American TV” by the New York Times—during what is expected to be a fascinating and dramatic 2020 presidential campaign.
On Monday, McCain participated eagerly in discussions about the pay disparity between male and female soccer stars, the gaffe-prone presidential campaign of Joe Biden, and in an interview with one of Biden’s Democratic rivals, Andrew Yang—but her body language with cohost Hostin, who sits next her at the table, was decidedly uncomfortable.
McCain’s supporters suspect Hostin and members of her inner circle of being sources for some of the damaging leaks—an accusation that Hostin’s publicist said it’s “beneath her” to address last week—and while the two didn’t debate each other, they barely looked at each other during the hour-long program.
McCain instead burrowed into her notes, eyes down, and seemed decidedly unamused—and didn’t bother to suppress a frown—when, during a discussion of social media complaints that an African American actress had been cast to voice the title character in Disney’s reboot of The Little Mermaid, Hostin burst into a swaying rendition of "Under the Sea."
It seemed at that moment that McCain would have preferred to be there, in the watery deep, instead of sitting two feet away from Hostin’s singing.