Meghan McCain on How Her Relationship With Whoopi Goldberg Changed During the Pandemic (Exclusive)

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Meghan McCain is opening up about her relationship with her former The View co-host, Whoopi Goldberg. ET's Rachel Smith spoke with McCain about her new audio memoir, Bad Republican, and she talked candidly about the ups and downs of their time working together.

Goldberg and McCain got into a few fiery arguments on The View, given that McCain was the sole conservative on the panel, which included Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin and Sara Haines. McCain said that their relationship started out maternal and that when she started, she told her father, late Arizona senator John McCain, that she was going to have her back. But she says their relationship changed during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think again it was COVID-19 and being via satellite," she says. "I also think that it's really arduous and intense for everyone and I think sometimes I'm the only conservative person people come into contact with in media and certainly on The View, and I just think that there were moments in time that she hasn't realized how powerful she is and she is one of the most powerful American women of all time, one of the most talented actresses, one of the most talented broadcasters. She's a living legend and even small slights, the audience is very savvy, they can pick up on things, but we had a really beautiful ending which I maybe should have included in the book." 

McCain said Goldberg has reached out to her following her exit from The View.

"We just had a really lovely conversation when I left and she sent me some really lovely text messages and then, I -- I obviously don't want to reveal too much -- but I really wish Whoopi all the best," she says. "I will always love her. I think she probably still has love for me some place too and I think she has the hardest job on that show. She is the moderator, she is in charge of so many things, we all make mistakes and again, I really don't have any ill will, and I think that show is going to be on for another 50 years. I think that she is going to be on when I am an old lady."

McCain says she is still close with Hostin, and doesn't have any hard feelings toward any of her former co-hosts, including Behar. But she did note that Behar telling her on-air after she returned to the show from maternity leave that she didn't miss her was a catalyst for her decision to leave The View.

"I talk about the moment I decided to leave, which was the moment that I think if you're a big The View fan, you probably remember was when Joy told me she didn't miss me, and that she didn't miss me zero, and I was going through postpartum anxiety," she recalls. "I had just come back from maternity leave -- it was my second day back -- and it was sort of booked between that moment when I first came back, that happened, and then the insurrection on the Capitol happened, so it was a very, very hard week to come back from maternity leave. And I just felt in the moment ... I started crying and I had a panic attack in my office downstairs afterwards. I threw up ... it was a total mess. And I say in the book that it just was no longer worth it to me what I was giving up personally."

"I think during COVID, it was the first time that I really started thinking about my mental and emotional health, and then quite frankly, I started thinking about what my daughter was gonna see on the internet when she was grown," she added, referring to her 1-year-old daughter, Liberty. "And I just thought, like, I just don't think this is how women should be treated when they come back from maternity leave, and I felt also like the camaraderie on the show had dissipated in COVID because of the satellite. The fact that we were physically apart from each other really hurt the show, I mean, there's nothing anyone can do about it, obviously, but it did have an impact."

Although McCain said she asked for an apology from the show's executive producer after the incident with Behar but didn't get it, she isn't holding any grudges.

"I really am a forgiver," she notes. "Writing this book has been really cathartic and really healing and I really wish the show the best. I know the kind of stress they're under because I’ve been there. It's not easy, it is a really, really hard job. ... Network TV is a really hard environment and some people want to do it for 25 years like Joy, 15 years like Whoopi ... that's amazing. For me, I was ready to try new things and explore a different lifestyle."

"I always really try and take ownership of my role, you know, some of the moments on the show during the four years I was there that I'm not proud of, things that happened," she also says. 

At the end of the day, McCain says the real reason she left is the lack of trust she had when it came to stories being written about her on the show.

"I could deal with host drama all day long," she notes. "To me, the real thing that started to have an impact on my mental and emotional health was the constant -- and it became constant -- absolute constant leaking from the show. And I think, how would you feel? If you work on this show that every time you walked in this room, you thought, oh, somebody is going to ... I am going to make a joke about the camera guy's phone going off and on the Daily Mail or TMZ or whatever, [they're going to report] you are yelling at your camera guy for his phone going off and you are a hated woman who everyone thinks is a lunatic. It would take a toll on you, I promise you. ... But that did not come from the hosts, it came from people behind the scenes."

As for her new audio memoir, which will be released exclusively on Audible on Oct. 21, McCain talked about what fans can look forward to.

"[There's] funny stories about giving birth, stuff at The View, and stuff with my dad and politics and it's meant to be consumed where if you just want to listen to one chapter in each story, like each chapter is its own story, so you can ebb in and out if you want, or listen to all in one place," she notes. "I recorded it myself and when I was recording, I was like, what was I thinking of, sharing things this personal with the entire world?"

In response to McCain's memoir, The View released the following statement to ET: "For 25 years, The View has been a platform on air and behind the scenes for strong women. Live television and different perspectives can often lead to surprising moments, but the team is collaborative and supportive - focused on delivering an informative daily talk show to our loyal viewers."

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