Meghan McCain and Seth Meyers spar over Rep. Ilhan Omar comments
Meghan McCain during an interview with host Seth Meyers on May 7, 2019. (Photo: Lloyd Bishop/NBC)
Meghan McCain and Seth Meyers got into it during her appearance on “Late Night” Tuesday, with McCain at one point asking Meyers if he was Rep. Ilhan Omar’s publicist.
Whoa. It was uncomfortable — in a good way, mostly, at least for viewers — and fascinating, far from the glad-handing promotional chitchat that makes up most late-night interviews.
An amiable chat about McCain’s stint as an intern at “Saturday Night Live” when Meyers worked there found its way to the antagonistic relationship between President Donald Trump and McCain’s father, the late Sen. John McCain. From there they talked about Sen. Lindsey Graham’s often bizarre support of Trump, despite Graham’s friendship with McCain (“It disappoints me, but I also understand politics and I will always love him and respect him”).
Then Meyers carefully brought up Omar. During an appearance on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” the day after the deadly synagogue shooting in San Diego, McCain said on that show, among other things, “When we’re having conversations about anti-Semitism, we should be looking at the most extreme on both sides. I would bring up Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and some of her comments that got so much attention.”
Some of Omar’s comments and tweets have been seen as anti-Semitic; she has since apologized for some of them.
“You were very vocal about some of the tweets,” Meyers said. “People were upset, thought it was anti-Semitic language, she has since unequivocally apologized for them. And then after that there was this tragic synagogue shooting in California. And you once again on a Sunday news show brought up her tweets again in the context of that shooting. …
“I just wondered, because I do think it’s fairly dangerous, and you brought it up after Congresswoman Omar also had some death threats against her, do you think, she’s obviously now stated she needs to be more careful with her language, don’t you think other people who talk about her need to be a little more thoughtful, as well? Or do you stand by those comments of tying her rhetoric to the synagogue shooting?
“I don’t think I tied her to it in particular,” McCain said. “I think that I’m calling out what I see as anti-Semitic language.”
“But even after, you thought that even after she apologized for it? I do want to establish the timeline,” Meyers said.
“I think Democrats are hedging on this,” McCain said. “I think it’s very dangerous.”
The two talked further, and then McCain said, “I stand by every single thing I said, and if that makes me unpopular in this room or in front of you, so be it.”
She later referenced the tweets, which she brought up on Stephanopoulos’ show, in which Omar said support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins” and, in a 2012 tweet, that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” She has apologized for both.
“You do keep bringing up the two tweets that she’s apologized for,” Meyers said, “and I think that’s a little unfair to her, especially because we’ve established …”
“Are you her publicist?” McCain asked.
“Are you her press person?”
“No,” Meyers said. “I’m just someone who cares about the fact that there is someone out there who is in a minority, who has had death threats against her, and I think that we should all use the same language. You’re asking her to be careful about her language and I would ask everybody else to be careful about theirs.”
Whew. It was strange, because we’re so conditioned to seeing actors talking about their film that opens Friday in this situation. This was not that. Not by a long shot.
Moments later McCain said, “My opinions are very strong.”
“That is going across, I want you to know that,” Meyers said.
They ended on a friendly enough note, though I’d love to know what they said after their microphones were turned off and the band played into a commercial. It was fascinating because neither Meyers nor McCain gave any ground. It’s the kind of thing you just don’t see on these kinds of shows.
But that we ought to see more of.
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