During a discussion of Barack Obama's virtual commencement address for 2020 graduates on "The View," co-host Meghan McCain blamed the former president for "ushering in" President Donald Trump.
Fellow co-host Whoopi Goldberg set the table for the discussion with a clip of Obama taking a rare public shot at Trump administration officials. Obama said the indifference of government officials had shifted responsibility for their actions to the next generation.
"More than anything, this pandemic has fully — finally — torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge," Obama told the graduates in his nationwide video address. "If the world's going to get better, it's going to be up to you."
Trump responded by claiming that his predecessor, who was re-elected to a second term, was "incompetent."
"I'm giddy about this," co-host Joy Behar said. "I'm really looking forward to watching the brilliant law professor take on the quasi-literate reality show host. This is going to be good!"
Co-host Sunny Hostin said the speech made her nostalgic for a president who was "compassionate, and empathetic, and reassuring, and funny, intelligent, honest, curious."
Goldberg then passed the mic to a visibly displeased McCain, who at first claimed that she didn't have "a lot to say about this" before launching into a broadside against Obama and the Americans, such as her co-hosts, who still look up to him.
"Obviously, everyone on the left has basically appointed President Obama as nothing short of a saint," she said, adding she "obviously feels different" from her co-hosts "as most Republicans and conservatives do."
"I will say: The culture war that I believe is real and is raging in this country, I believe was ushered in with his administration and then exacerbated in the Trump administration," she said. "and if the election were held today I do believe Trump would be re-elected."
McCain said just two months prior that the fallout from Trump's botched coronavirus response could be his electoral undoing. In order to stop him now, Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have to stop blindly lauding Obama, she said.
"We have to start talking to each other in the middle, and we have to start talking about the faults on both sides, because he was not a perfect president," she repeated. "And I don't think a perfect president would have ushered in the era of Trump."
In response, Goldberg pointed out that Obama had himself been viciously attacked and well earned his right to speak up about the current administration.
"Listen, this man has been battered by this particular guy in the White House for almost five years," Goldberg responded, alluding to Trump's running attacks on Obama, from the racist birtherism conspiracy theory to his recent remark about Obama's competence.
"I don't think people are holding up Obama. I think they miss him," Goldberg continued. "They miss Clinton. Yu've heard people say they miss Bush," she said.
"They miss that thing — whether you agree with somebody or not, you never questioned how they felt about the country," she added. "You didn't question it if you didn't agree with them. But this is different. This feels different."
"And this culture war — I'm sure it's out there, because I'm sure people were kind of shocked, I guess, when it turned out Obama — to be black," Goldberg said. "Because I can't see any reason other than that to spark a culture war."
McCain's father, John, was a prominent anti-Trump Republican who died of brain cancer in 2018. He unsuccessfully ran for president against Obama in 2008. McCain has tried to carry on her father's political "maverick" mantle, bucking her daytime TV co-hosts for years in extreme gestures which have routinely drawn mockery and attacks from Democrats, most recently when she defended armed protesters defying social distancing guidance.
In the same Monday broadcast, McCain said she understood the "sentiment" of lockdown protesters on New York's Long Island who were caught on camera calling a reporter an "enemy of the people" and railing the "fake news" as "non-essential."
Trump retweeted the video, calling the protesters "great people," which Behar pointed out echoed his praise of neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville, Va. McCain, however, rationalized the attacks.
"The American press has the worst approval rating of any and all American institutions," she said.
"I think part of the problem is when you blanket-statement protesters like this as neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. These people — their sentiment, I understand. People are very frustrated right now. They want to go back to work. There's a lot of people in this country that would rather risk coronavirus than have their business go under and their families starve."
"Maybe the media should take a look at why there's so much anger at them," she added.
The protest organizers apologized for the attacks on the press.