Seth Meyers Goes to Bat for Ilhan Omar in Tense Interview With Meghan McCain

'Are you her publicist?'

May 8, 2019

Late-night NBC host Seth Meyers went after guest Meghan McCain Tuesday night for her criticisms of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), leading the pundit to ask if he was Omar's "publicist" at one point.

McCain, a conservative co-host on ABC's The View, and the liberal Meyers were mostly cordial before the latter pressed McCain for her criticisms of Omar. The freshman lawmaker has repeatedly landed in hot water for attacking Israel and its supporters with anti-Semitic tropes, in addition to making comments like blaming the U.S. for the collapse of Venezuela.

Meyers said Omar "unequivocally apologized" for her anti-Semitic tweets, matching Omar's own words at the time but not noting Omar later said she did not apologize for being anti-Semitic. Meyers asked if McCain should be careful about "tying" rhetoric like Omar's anti-Israel speech to the recent synagogue shooting as she did in a recent appearance on This Week, but McCain denied doing so.

"I'm calling out what I see as anti-Semitic language," McCain said, before Meyers interrupted to to say again Omar apologized.

"I do want to establish the timeline," Meyers said.

McCain said Democrats were hedging, noting she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) shared support of Israel as an occasional example of bipartisan agreement. Schumer has condemned the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel as anti-Semitism in action, while Omar supports it.

"I think she is bringing the party to extremism on this," McCain said, noting the rise of it in Europe and in Britain's Labour Party. "Anti-Semitism is very common, and I see it happening over there, and I worry about it happening over here. I stand by every single thing I've said, and if that makes me unpopular in this room or in front of you, so be it."

She drew some cheers, but Meyers said it was a "weird thing" for her to say, claiming he was trying to find "common ground." McCain asked if Meyers was offended by Omar's remarks referring to the September 11 attacks as "some people did something," to which he replied she was taken out of context.

Meyers asked if criticism of Israel could be done without accusations of anti-Semitism. When McCain again invoked Omar's remarks and tweets about Israel hypnotizing the world and accusing pro-Israel politicians of being bought off by Jewish lobbyists, he balked, saying it was "unfair" to bring up those tweets.

"Are you her publicist?" McCain asked. "Are you her press person?"

"I'm just someone who cares about the fact that there's 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 everyone to be careful about theirs," Meyers said.

McCain wasn't impressed, asking what Meyers would specifically have her say in that situation.

He didn't appear to know, either, although the two ended their tense exchange by agreeing that everyone should vaccinate their children—earlier on the show, they discussed Saturday Night Live's skit mocking The View which had falsely portrayed McCain as an anti-vaxxer like former host Jenny McCarthy.