Meghan McCain isn’t one to apologize, but after finding herself the subject of a John Oliver monologue on Sunday night, The View co-host has walked back her defense of terms like “China virus” and “Wuhan flu.”
“I condemn the reprehensible violence and vitriol that has been targeted towards the Asian American community,” McCain said in a statement provided to E! News late Monday. “There is no doubt Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric fueled many of these attacks and I apologize for any past comments that aided that agenda.”
On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver skewered McCain for posting a graphic about the rise in anti-Asian hate one year after she defended Trump’s use of terms like “China virus” on The View. At the time, in March 2020, McCain argued that “P.C. labeling the virus” will get Trump reelected, as “the vast majority of Americans” don’t care about using an insensitive nickname for COVID-19. “I don’t have a problem with people calling it whatever they want,” she told her View co-hosts. “It’s a deadly virus that did originate in Wuhan.”
Oliver made it clear that the minimization of this harmful rhetoric has had terrible consequences for Asian Americans. “Our long, ugly history of anti-Asian racism and the fact that it often peaks during times of crisis is the exact reason why, just last year, many were loudly warning that Trump calling COVID names like the ‘China virus’ was likely to lead to a rise in violence against people of Asian descent,” said the HBO host, before playing a clip of McCain’s remarks on The View.
“Oh good, Meghan McCain doesn’t have a problem with it!” he continued. “Listen not to the scores of Asian Americans telling everyone that the term is dangerous and offensive. Instead, gather around and take the word of a wealthy white woman who’s dressed like she’s about to lay off 47 people over Zoom.”
The Last Week Tonight host concluded by highlighted the hypocrisy of McCain posting a graphic about the Atlanta shootings that read “Stop Asian Hate” alongside three broken heart emojis. “[This] is a fine sentiment to throw up on Twitter after the fact,” said Oliver, “But there has to be an understanding that saying, ‘I don’t have a problem with calling it the China virus’ is very much giving space for hate to grow.”
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