Meghan McCain, the outspoken daughter of Sen. John McCain, stars in "Raising McCain," billed as a new "docu-talk" series on Participant Media's new TV network, Pivot. Cameras follow the 28-year-old pundit on interviews exploring a variety of issues of concern to the so-called millennial generation.
How did your show come about?
I met with my production company, Go Go Luckey, and we had this idea to do a talk show — style show, but more filmed like a documentary or a reality show, just because I personally don't watch daytime talk-show television, and I don't think the average teenager or twentysomething does either. We met with a bunch of different networks, and in my final meeting with Pivot, I met the president, Evan Shapiro, and he just totally blew me away.
What is your generation looking for?
When I was growing up — I grew up in the '90s — MTV News was a really integral part of my life and my education. They were showing me news from a young person's perspective, and they had correspondents that looked like people I'd want to hang out with or did hang out with, and that just doesn't exist anymore. MTV has elected to use the lowest common denominator entertainment. Young people can be entertained and educated at the same time. The idea that young people don't want that is a misnomer, because I think young people don't have the option right now.
Do you think your generation is being misperceived as being just into fluff?
I have a great respect for popular culture. I just think there can be news and entertainment that has a message for social action. We are the most involved and connected generation in the history of history. I hate the idea that people perceive us as this "me, me, me" generation that only cares about ourselves.
You start your first episode by saying that there's no more privacy and that you don't care, and your views evolve, but even at the outset, you'd already taken a lot of grief online about your weight and being called "an idiot." Are you OK with that?
I think that if you elect to have a job in the media, you're electing to invite criticism, and I don't have a problem with constructive criticism or with people disagreeing with me. What scares me is that inevitably, when this show comes out, there will be some commentator someplace that will say I'm a fat whore. That is what comes with the territory when you're a woman in this culture in the media. I can take it — I have a great network supporting me — but the average woman isn't going to want to do anything in politics and media if every single day of their life, they're going to be called a fat whore.
A great example: I did an interview with BuzzFeed and said the best thing about working at Pivot is I never have to wear Spanx and high heels again. People were tweeting me: "You have to wear Spanx at 28? Why don't you try eating less?" It's hurtful. But I'd rather be in the kitchen and take the heat than not be cooking at all.
So what else is coming up this season?
In the final episode, I get to go home and interview both my parents. I got to ask my dad all the questions I was scared to ask him in the past, even things about my parents' marriage. This is a video I want to show my grandchildren. There's an episode about the sex overload of technology killing romance, and that one is really funny and a little depressing. We're working on bullying, we did one on our binge culture. Every single episode somehow draws from my life. We did an episode on millennial veterans that my little brother [Jimmy, a vet] co-hosts, and we interview a bunch of our friends about coming back from war.
Of course, your dad has had his issues with the media. What prompted you to join it?
I worked on my dad's campaign after college because I didn't want to get a real job and I didn't want to go to grad school. I learned a lot about the media and I started really loving it and realizing things Republicans could be doing to reach out to a different kind of audience.
Speaking of the election, you've written that you nearly overdosed on Xanax on election day 2008. What happened?
The day before election day, someone had given a friend an envelope of Xanax that was for emergency use only, and I was having a total panic attack. I was really on bad terms with a lot of my dad's staff and advisers. I was sort of the rebel wild child, and they thought of me as a loose cannon. She was supposed to give me one Xanax, but none of us had ever taken prescription medication before, and she gave me the equivalent of four or five. I was completely passed out for 24 hours.
I know you want to change the Republican Party. In one of your episodes, you said you feel like you're failing. What's your thinking about that?
I'm not right about everything, but I do think I am right about the fact that we are not reaching out to young people, we're not reaching out to women, we're not reaching out to minorities in the way that we should be. We can't keep asking voters to decide between their finances and wanting their gay friends to have the same rights their straight friends do. I just got to the point where I was sick of being called a fake Republican and an idiot, because we're going to continue losing elections. I don't know what happens when we just blood-let every single person out of the party that isn't a radical conservative.