Thirteen years after the bruising 2008 presidential election made Sarah Palin’s family the target of endless media smears, Meghan McCain said members of her father’s presidential campaign “set [Palin] up for failure” and indicted members of the legacy media for trying to make Palin “look bad.”
“I have a whole new lens of viewing how Sarah Palin was treated,” said the younger McCain during an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News on Tuesday night.
“The people working for my father’s campaign really, in my opinion, treated her really horribly — set her up for failure,” she said.
During the 2008 campaign, Palin became the focus of numerous media leaks that she lacked intelligence, obsessed over expensive clothing, and branded her a “whack job.” McCain said the legacy media gladly facilitated the internal war between the Republican Party’s more liberal elements and its conservative, grassroots base.
McCain referred to former “Today” show host “Katie Couric talking about how Ruth Bader Ginsburg is someone she helped look good” by concealing comments the justice made critical of NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem. “I thought, ‘Well obviously, she probably put Sarah Palin in a position to look bad,’” said McCain. “And by the way, [former McCain campaign strategist] Nicolle Wallace was the person who facilitated that interview, who now has a show on MSNBC.” Wallace now hosts the network’s dependably alarmist, two-hour “Deadline: White House” from 4 to 6 p.m. Eastern time.
The media verified McCain’s claims at the time. Two days after the 2008 election, CNN’s Campbell Brown reported that “top advisers to John McCain’s failed campaign” are “desperate right now to find someone to blame for their long, long list of mistakes. They have been launching grenades at Palin and her supporters. Some of their allegations, we at CNN we have found to be patently false.” The next day her colleague, Anderson Cooper, reported, “Former McCain campaign aides have been sources for a string of embarrassing stories about Palin that have become public since GOP defeat Tuesday night.”
Far from being a drag on McCain’s popularity, the Real Clear Politics average of polls showed that the only time McCain led Barack Obama after Obama secured the Democratic presidential nomination was a 10-day period stretching from shortly after John McCain named Palin his vice president until Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, considered the height of the subprime mortgage crisis at the heart of the 2008 economic recession. Meghan McCain has always rejected notions that Palin had a negative impact on the ticket.
Yet the legacy media and the Republican Party establishment continued to hound Palin long after the 2008 election ended. Shortly after election day, numerous media outlets reported the fake story that Palin thought Africa was a country rather than a continent. The error — which was reported by MSNBC’s David Schuster, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times, and Fox News — allegedly came from a McCain campaign insider named Martin Eisenstadt, who turned out to be a fictional character created by two independent filmmakers.
Nicolle Wallace would become a short-term host on “The View” before Meghan McCain filled the conservative seat — which she said had been occupied by “women who claim to be Republican and are not, in my opinion.” McCain said she took the job on her father’s advice, because “I do think it’s important that we have to fight the culture war in their spaces, because quite frankly I think we’re losing it.”
Yet McCain says her communications skills actually harmed her relationship with her liberal co-hosts. “Being a conservative woman in mainstream media is deeply threatening; being a woman who can hold her own on a show like that proved to be ultimately threatening,” she said. “The more I pressed liberal candidates and liberal guests on the show, the worse it got for me backstage. And then ultimately, it started spilling out on air.” McCain left the show of her own volition this year, with two years left on her contract.
McCain said her views have become more conservative as part of her maturation process. “I fell in love with a really, deeply conservative man who runs The Federalist,” referring to her husband, Fox News personality Ben Domenech. “I have gotten older. It’s like the old adage: ‘If you’re not liberal when you’re young, you don’t have a heart; if you’re not conservative when you’re old, you don’t have a brain.’”
“I just really hope that the culture has some redemption for Sarah Palin in the same way that we have for so many other women right now,” she said.
You can watch her exchange with Sean Hannity below:
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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