LeVar Burton could get his own game show — involving his love of books

As the long and much-publicized saga of the search for a new full-time "Jeopardy!" host continues, it looks like fan-favorite LeVar Burton might have dodged a bullet. And it sounds like he might even agree.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

In an interview with Trevor Noah on "The Daily Show" on Thursday, Burton revealed he has his sights set on a better fit than the "Jeopardy!" host position.

Since the search for a replacement for the late, great Alex Trebek began last November, Burton, who formerly hosted "Reading Rainbow," emerged as a leading fan pick, propelled by his legions of loyal followers. A change.org petition for Burton to succeed Trebek has more than 300,000 signatures.

"I discovered then that the generation of adults now, who grew up on 'Reading Rainbow' — they were down with whatever it is I wanted to do, and the same was true with this 'Jeopardy!' thing," Burton told Noah. "I made it public that I wanted it for myself, that it made sense to me, and they were all about it. It made as much sense to them as it did to me. And, so, they wanted it for me as much as I wanted it."

Of course, for reasons unknown, the "Jeopardy!" search committee, which included Mike Richards, had other plans, initially selecting Richards and actress Mayim Bialik as co-hosts. The show has since been mired in scandal over choosing Richards, when previous lawsuits against Richards and sexist, racist comments he made on a 2014 podcast came to light.

Richards parted ways with the show, but Burton made it clear to Noah that he's no longer interested in being considered.

"The crazy thing is that when you set your sights on something, you know, they say be careful of what you wish for, because what I found out is that it wasn't the thing that I wanted after all," Burton explained. "What I wanted was to compete. I mean, I wanted the job, right, but then, when I didn't get it, it was, like, well, okay, what's next?"

Since not being chosen by "Jeopardy!," Burton revealed he's received numerous "opportunities that have come my way as a result of not getting that gig" — opportunities that he "couldn't have dreamt up."

"If you had given me a pen and paper and said, 'Well, so what do you want this to really look like?' If it doesn't include 'Jeopardy!' I wouldn't have been this generous to myself," he said.

In other words, as Noah put it, for Burton, "Jeopardy!" was really just "the shipwreck that leads you to the magical island."

When Noah then suggested Burton start his own game show, the "Star Trek: Next Generation" star – who produces his own podcast "LeVar Burton Reads" – seemed open to this idea. "There's got to be some sort of game show in and around books. There's got to be something in that world," said Noah.

"We are working on creating exactly what that is," said Burton. "I never thought about hosting any other game show outside of 'Jeopardy!.' But now, they went in a different direction with their show, which is their right, and now I'm thinking, well, it does kind of make sense, let me see what I can do. So we're trying to figure out what the right game show for LeVar Burton would be."

This week, "Jeopardy!" announced that as it continues its search for a full-time co-host for Bialik, Ken Jennings, a former contestant and the guest host who received the highest ratings this past season, will co-host on an interim basis through the rest of 2021. The trivia show clearly has a lot to figure out these days — but Burton, on the other hand, sounds like he's exactly where he needs to be.

You can watch Burton's full "Daily Show" interview with Trevor Noah below.

LeVar Burton - Growing Up Reading & His Dreams of Hosting “Jeopardy!” | The Daily Show www.youtube.com

'The Activist' implosion: How a reality show working for greater good became a capitalist nightmare

Only a week after CBS announced its new reality competition series "The Activist," the network is overhauling it after massive backlash, Variety reported.

In its original incarnation, the show pit six activists against each other for funding – much like a demented version of "Shark Tank." The head-scratching trio of Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and "Dancing With the Stars" alum Julianne Hough were named as the celebrity hosts.

Frankly, the show was doomed from the start. Following an onslaught of criticism directed at the show's tone-deaf premise of making activists and their respective causes compete against each other, Variety reported on Wednesday evening that the competition show will be restructured as a documentary special instead.

How did we get to this point? Salon unpacks the public outcry and the behind-the-scenes drama that led to a show having to rejigger its entire format a month before it premeires.

The origins of "The Activist"

The controversial concept for the series was actually originally announced in May. A press release written up by Deadline includes the details:

The Activist is a competition series that features six inspiring activists teamed with three high-profile public figures working together to bring meaningful change to one of three vitally important world causes: health, education and environment.
Activists go head-to-head in challenges to promote their causes, with their success measured via online engagement, social metrics and hosts' input. The three teams have one ultimate goal: to create impactful movements that amplify their message, drive action, and advance them to the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy. There, they will meet with world leaders in the hope of securing funding and awareness for their causes. The team that receives the largest commitment is celebrated as the overall winner at the finale, which will also feature musical performances by some of the world's most passionate artists.

At the time, no names had been attached to the series, and since many development announcements never see the light of our TV screens, the report received little to no attention.

On Sept. 9, however, CBS' Senior Executive Vice President of Programming Thom Sherman, gave a much briefer announcement at the Television Critics Association press tour.

"I'm pleased to announce the hosts of our new competition-event series 'The Activist,' Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Julianne Hough and Usher," said Sherman. "The series will feature six activists from around the world working to bring meaningful change to one of three urgent universal causes: health, education, and the environment. The activists will compete in missions, media stunts, digital campaigns, and community events, all aimed at garnering the attention of the world's most powerful decision-makers."

The addition of the hosts' names – presumably experts in creating social change – along with a premiere date finally brought the series the spotlight it craved . . . and ultimately regretted.

The backlash: "Our traumas are not games"

The show was immediately slammed on social media, primarily for its truly colossal failure to read the room. Amid a global pandemic, climate catastrophe, economic recession, total dismantling of reproductive rights, and violent racial inequities bleeding into all of these issues, "The Activist" attempted to gamify and commodify interconnected, life-or-death struggles.

In response, more than 70 progressive groups and activists signed an open letter to CBS and Global Citizen critiqueing the premise.

"Pitting activists against one another upholds the 'oppression Olympics' and perpetuates the belief that justice issues must fight over 'breadcrumbs' supplied by those with power, resources and large platforms," the letter states. "Ultimately, this results from the very oppressive systems which we are trying to dismantle. Our lived realities, struggles and traumas are not games, nor competitions for the consumerist gaze."

More people chimed in on Twitter. Posts were alternately angry or brought humor to the commentary by pointing out how the reality competition format – often rife with manufactured tension and ludicrous catchphrases – would be contrasted with the more serious stakes of activism.

The problematic celebrity co-hosts

The letter to the producers also points out the co-hosts, who will almost certainly be generously compensated for their work on the show, "are in no way equipped to dissect the complexities of 'climate, social and health' issues."

Not only that, but Chopra and Hough have pretty checkered pasts when it comes to social justice, to say the least.

The Daily Beast reported that the show was internally spiraling out of control following widespread criticism. In a Tuesday Instagram post, Hough assured us she was "deeply listening" to the criticisms, whatever that means, and conceded she is "not qualified to act as a judge." Despite this she remains on the show.

That was before critics of "The Activist" resurfaced a photo of Hough dressed for Halloween in blackface as Uzo Aduba's character from "Orange Is the New Black." On Wednesday the "Dancing With the Stars" star was forced to apologize.

"Wearing blackface was a poor choice based on my own white privilege and white body bias that hurt people and is something that I regret doing to this day," Hough said in a lengthy statement in Variety.

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Chopra Jonas, former "Quantico" star and Bollywood icon, has been widely criticized for her support for India's nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi, and for appearing to encourage war between India and Pakistan in 2019.

That same year, when an activist confronted her about her previous nationalist statements, She received criticism for her condescending response, telling the audience member, "I hear you, whenever you're done venting. Got it? OK, cool."

Of course, arguably more insulting than the selection of Chopra Jonas and Hough as co-hosts of "The Activist" is the hiring of the celebrity hosts at all, which remains problematic even without the flash and capitalistic flair of a competition element. Their undoubtedly hefty salaries could simply go toward funding support for any of the different contestants' varying causes — and for that matter, so could all of the production costs for the show, as numerous critics have pointed out.

An activist interviewed for the show: "He said I sounded like a robot"

Given the issues with the overall concept and pushing celebrities to the forefront, it should not be a surprise that even choosing the activists to feature was a fraught process. According to at least two people who were considered for the show, it appears that the selection process was treated more as an entertainment casting session than a chance to feature important and unsung work.

Clover Hogan, a youth climate activist and founder of Force of Nature, shared a chilling Twitter thread over the weekend about her experience almost being cast on "The Activist." She recounted that the person who interviewed her about her story as an activist insisted that she give "what the producers wanted to see."

"He said I sounded like a robot, talking from a script. He asked me to do it over, this time with more emotion . . . We repeated this several times; until I burst into tears," Hogan wrote.

"I realized that I was totally a character they wanted to manipulate and fit into their own story arc narrative — none of it was about understanding the issues," she told the Daily Beast.

Alicia O'Sullivan, another activist focusing on climate change and youth action, recounted a similar experience that led her to believe the show's creators don't even "really understand" what activism entails.

"I think their concept of activism is if you set up a charity, or if you've set up a huge organization," O'Sullivan told the Daily Beast. "Activism is not just that, it's not just about setting up these huge things." She added, of the show ultimately "ghosting" her, "I dodged a bullet, as far as I'm concerned."

Like O'Sullivan, Hogan was also critical of the show's setup, and the harmful impact it could have on audiences. "I think we have to start a conversation about where action is needed, and why we can't turn activism into some kind of fetishization for people to think that they're engaging in the issues when they're just sitting at home watching this TV show," she told the Daily Beast.

While selecting reality show contestants ultimately comes down to whose personality or story would make for "good television," that aspect of the process should've tipped off producers that the original premise was the wrong fit for the aims of activism.

A mea culpa, but is it enough?

Faced with the avalance of criticism, late Wednesday CBS and its producing partners, nonprofit Global Citizen and Live Nation, finally admitted to their wrongheaded concept and annouced switching to a documentary format. The new version is expected to "focus on the same activists but without the 'challenges' or evaluations" of its previous iteration.

"'The Activist' was designed to show a wide audience the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others to do the same," the producers shared in a statement. "It has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort."

Unfortunately, problems faced by "The Activist" can't be resolved by merely taking the competition out of the show.

At the center of the original iteration of "The Activist" is the reality that the capitalistic sport of forcing organizers to compete for funding from the exorbitantly wealthy isn't new. Through NGOs, billionaire-founded charities, and the insidious rise of social justice "influencing," activism is already being commodified for wealth and spectacle — "The Activist" simply took this to the next level.

As a documentary, it will have to address these inequities and power dynamics in how activists are often left at the mercy of rich people feeling generous. But color us skeptical; we doubt the new version will do so in a meaningful way.

Furthermore, none of the producing partners have responded to allegations of mistreatment and exploitation from activists who say they were contacted by the show to take part in it. And there's been no word about the continued involvement of the celebrity hosts.

As the creators of "The Activist" now work to adapt and bring forth an entirely new version of the show, it's not yet clear whether the mistakes of their past will be so easily forgiven. At the very least, "The Activist" will most certainly find its place on the television screens of the same crowd who shared black squares on Instagram to protest police violence last summer, and called that enough activism for the day.

But actual activists, and most consumers with basic critical thinking abilities, will likely be skeptical of "The Activist" — until given actual reason to trust it.

Texas's anti-abortion snitch hotline is already being shut down by 'Shrek' memes

The anti-abortion movement's routine barrages of nightmarish state-level abortion bills have ranged from sneaky, devil's-in-the-details regulations to shut down clinics, to attempts to sentence abortion providers to the death penalty. But Texas' latest law, which took effect Wednesday, is admittedly – and alarmingly – creative. It christens all citizens, not just in Texas, as a citizen police force who can sue anyone who has or helps someone have an abortion for upwards of $10,000, all on top of banning abortion at about six weeks.

And while abortion bans aren't new (1973 really wasn't that long ago, people!), the internet is (relatively speaking), and with it come some major caveats to how abortion access and activism work today. Around the end of July, Texas Right to Life started an online anonymous tip line for bored, evil people to snitch on anyone they suspect may be trying to have or help someone have an abortion, in what felt like a crossover episode between "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Black Mirror."

The tip line, of course, could be exploited as an everyday, indiscriminate weapon. It could effectively be used by vengeful co-workers, nosy and sanctimonious neighbors, abusive exes, and otherwise vindictive individuals, who might feel like ruining someone's life, subjecting them to stalking, doxing or even an exorbitantly costly lawsuit.


Their snitch site, ProLifeWhistleBlower.com, was shared widely . . . by abortion rights supporters and clever teens on Twitter, Reddit, and of course, TikTok, calling on the internet to rise up and render the tip line nonfunctional with spam. The calls to action caused a sensation; they quickly made it to Reddit's front page, drew thousands of retweets on Twitter, and arguably most effectively mobilized the teens on TikTok. Almost immediately, ProLifeWhistleBlower.com was inundated with nearly countless false reports, hate mail, and — because Gen-Z is wonderful — "Shrek" memes.

Lots and lots of "Shrek" memes, some safe for work and others not so much.

One Tik Toker shared a video of their "report" to the tip line, in which they uploaded 11 "Shrek" images with a message that explains, "My wife aborted our baby 4 weeks into her pregnancy without consulting me."

As a result of this scheming, and tasteful "Shrek" memes and furry porn, the Texas site has gone from dystopic, crowd-sourced, right-wing doxing machine, to a useless social media spectacle. Its demise feels like a callback to the epic trolling spearheaded by TikTok teens and K-Pop fans that contributed to an empty Trump rally stadium in Tulsa last summer, after users reserved thousands of tickets to the event, only to not show and humiliate the former president's bamboozled campaign team with rows upon rows of empty seats.

Later on, shortly after the presidential election that saw Trump evicted from the White House, social media users capitalized on his campaign's utterly nonsensical election fraud hotlines and online forms as a perfect opportunity for trolling. People submitted memes, and even shared titillating tales of being seduced away from the voting booth by masked Antifa super-soldiers, until the hotlines had to be shut down.

In other words, today's young people and the surprisingly significant number of decent people on the internet are exceedingly crafty and astute. They know how to use the tools at their disposal to hold their own against their often less tech-savvy and — let's face it — mostly old, white, male political foes.

Memes are great . . . until you comprehend the need for them

While this may be a triumph on some level, it's more than a little sad that today's young people have had to grow up in a world that requires them to know how to employ TikTok to take down fascist political rallies, or overwhelm an internet tip line designed to stalk, criminalize and put a bounty on pregnant people.

It's a classic, pitiable case of adults praising kids for "saving the world," without considering that kids shouldn't have to. In an ideal world, zoomers would have the peace to be able to use TikTok solely to learn dumb dances, or use Twitter just to subtweet irritating classmates. But instead, they're stuck living in a world where they have to orchestrate mass, online efforts to foil the anti-abortion movement's frequent diabolical, dehumanizing plans.

"Shrek" memes and empty Trump rally stadiums may provide for some necessary, comforting comedic relief, but the threat we face from Texas' abortion ban is anything but a joke. Not only is it the most extreme in the nation, and a signal of mounting extremism in a court system that's often prevented the most overtly dangerous anti-abortion legislation from taking effect — it's also an incentive for the most hateful and extreme people you can imagine to stalk and endanger women and pregnant people around them.

Race and abortion access have always been inextricably linked, as barriers to nearly all forms of health care often fall hardest on people of color, who are more likely to seek abortion care. All aspects of Texas' new abortion ban, but mainly its citizen policing component, will disproportionately put pregnant people of color in harm's way. Policing has a long, violent history of racial profiling, and "policing" by racist, neighborhood vigilantes certainly does, too.

Of course, spying on pregnant and pregnant-capable people isn't a new tactic of the anti-abortion movement, which is behind a number of sneaky apps people can use to track menstrual cycles or pregnancies. Dozens of states require abortion providers to report abortions to the government, and just two years ago, Missouri's top state health official admitted to tracking and recording Missourians' menstrual cycles.

You might wonder whether any of this is an especially big deal considering we already live in the surveillance state hellscape that is the era of Facebook, but in the post-Roe v. Wade world that Texas is rapidly propelling us toward, surveillance will be crucial to enforce abortion criminalization, or even punish people who miscarry if a neighbor accuses them of self-inducing an abortion.

And unfortunately, there are limits to what even the best "Shrek" memes can do to protect women and pregnant people. While many social media users are a benign force of do-gooders who would engage in any spamming or trolling necessary for justice, social media platforms are notorious for protecting abusers, and enabling accounts that promote right-wing or anti-abortion extremism. Doxing and cyber harassment of women and LGBTQ people on social media has been on the rise, but Facebook remains busy at work banning female users who call men "scum."

And most specific to Texas' abortion ban, which will force many Texans to travel out-of-state for care if they can afford to, self-induce abortions, or simply carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, Instagram banned an account sharing World Health Organization-verified information and resources about accessing medication abortion, and safely self-managing an abortion, mere days before Texas' law took effect. The move is particularly galling because Instagram has been a popular platform for cyber sexual exploitation or "revenge porn," but its moderators have deemed the real problem to be medically accurate facts about self-managed abortion from an account run by health providers.

At the end of the day, tragically enough, not all problems can be solved by gathering the masses and spamming abortion doxing hotlines. Calling Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's office to ask if his refrigerator is running may be momentarily satisfying, but won't change the state of abortion access in Texas.

But what can meaningfully change things is donating to the Texas abortion funds that have been doing the work against all kinds of logistical and legislative barriers for years, supporting the organizers on the ground that are helping people get care, or putting in the work to flip the state's legislature of radicalized white men. After all, social media activism has its tricks and powers, but nothing can replace mutual aid and solidarity with those on the ground.

Spike Lee scrambles to re-edit 9/11 documentary after backlash for featuring conspiracy theories

With the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks fast approaching, attention is turning to how Americans are still grappling with the legacy of that day. Acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee is among those who created documentaries about the subject, but following backlash over including conspiracy theorists in his HBO series, he's backtracking.

According to Variety, Lee is "back in the editing room and looking at the eighth and final chapter of 'NYC EPICENTERS 9/11–>2021½.'"

"I Respectfully Ask You To Hold Your Judgement Until You See The FINAL CUT," Lee says in a statement sent by HBO.

The statement comes following a report that the final episode of Lee's series "NYC EPICENTERS 9/11–>2021½," which premiered this weekend, includes extensive interviews with members of the conspiracy group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

This group pushes the debunked theory that the World Trade Center towers were destroyed not by al-Qaeda, but a controlled demolition.In an interview with the New York Times, Lee seemed to subtly push this theory as well, admitting he still has "questions" about what really happened on 9/11, and telling the paper, "The amount of heat that it takes to make steel melt, that temperature's not reached. And then the juxtaposition of the way Building 7 fell to the ground — when you put it next to other building collapses that were demolitions, it's like you're looking at the same thing.

"But people going to make up their own mind. My approach is put the information in the movie and let people decide for themselves. I respect the intelligence of the audience."

"NYC EPICENTERS 9/11–>2021½" commemorates 20 years since the Sept. 11 attacks took place in 2001, and is the product of hundreds of interviews conducted by Lee that explore the impacts of 9/11 and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, on New York City. Its final episode, which will fittingly air on Friday, Sept. 11, is the episode that had featured the controversial, debunked theories in question, which Lee and HBO have since announced they are editing.

Media critics who received the docuseries to screen in advance have objected to how the final episode (which has now been pulled from review consideration) features extensive interviews with conspiracy theorists alongside interviews with experts who have researched 9/11 and its impacts for years including Shyam Sunder, who researched the attacks for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. According to the New York Times, at one point in the episode, when Sunder asks Lee if he's sufficiently explained the events of 9/11 to the director, Lee laughs and responds, "Not really." In contrast, the Times suggests that at times, it appears the documentary sides with conspiracy theorists.

Slate's Jeremy Stahl has compared the episode to "presenting Covid-19 vaccine skeptics in a debate alongside Anthony Fauci, or Holocaust deniers alongside the Simon Wiesenthal Center, or a clique of climate change skeptics alongside the authors of the United Nations IPCC report."

Conspiracy theories about the truth about 9/11, some of which wrongheadedly assert the terror attack was an "inside job" carried out by the Bush administration, are often given the meme treatment or laughed off on social media. But experts have concerningly linked the success of 9/11 theories through the years to the success of some of the most dangerous conspiracy theories that have poisoned our politics, today.

9/11 trutherism paved the way for the massive spread of QAnon's outlandish pedophilia cabal theories, which have culminated in death and an insurrection, as well as anti-vaccine conspiracy theories that have contributed to the spread of COVID variants across the country.

As we await the final cut of the last episode of Lee's "NYC EPICENTERS 9/11–>2021½," for all its controversy, it includes highly anticipated interviews with leading public figures like Jon Stewart, Rosie Perez, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Chuck Schumer, Bill De Blasio, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and more.

"NYC EPICENTERS 9/11–>2021½" airs Sundays after "Last Week Tonight" on HBO and streams on HBO Max, with the final episode premiering on Saturday, Sept. 11.

Tennis star Naomi Osaka exposes Megyn Kelly’s ignorance: 'Do better Megyn'

On Monday, tennis super star and mental health advocate Naomi Osaka graced the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2021 issue, alongside Megan Thee Stallion, who made history as the first rapper on the magazine cover, and Leyla Bloom, its first trans model. Osaka herself is also the first Haitian and Japanese woman on a cover.

As widely celebrated as this year's covers have been, conservative political commentator Megyn Kelly had an unsolicited thought or two to share. The former Fox News host, known for previous takes like the necessity of Santa Claus being white, criticized Osaka for gracing the cover of a magazine despite her much publicized departure from the French Open two months ago so she could abstain from the competition's media requirements due to her mental health.

"Let's not forget the cover of (& interview in) Vogue Japan and Time Mag!" Kelly said in a smug quote tweet ignorantly accusing Osaka of hypocrisy. The needless feud initiated by Kelly notably comes just weeks before "The Megyn Kelly Show" talk show is set to air on Sirius XM. This would be her first full-time journalism job since her 2019 exit from NBC, Insider reports.

In a now-deleted tweet, Osaka responded by setting the record straight — and pretty much proving she knows more about journalism than a "journalist" like Kelly. "Seeing as you're a journalist I would've assumed you would take the time to research what the lead times are for magazines. If you did that, you would've found I shot all of my covers last year. Instead, your first reaction is to hop on here and spew negativity, do better Megan [sic]," Osaka wrote.

As Osaka points out, media appearances like cover shoots, or collaborations like the Naomi Osaka Barbie doll, are planned and created months if not over a year in advance before being made public. Osaka's Sports Illustrated covers, Netflix documentary series, and Barbie doll — all of which have been catching heat from mostly conservative critics — were created long before her recent, escalated mental health struggles that barred her from completing the French Open's media requirement, and participating in the tournament itself.

That said, Kelly's critical tweets of Osaka are hardly the slam dunk she seems to think they are, considering Osaka has never said she never plans to participate in media or work with journalists. Quite the opposite, in her statement from the end of May, she brought up her desire to "make things better for the players, press and fans."

Of course, not one to take a hint, Kelly felt the need to continue the feud she'd initiated, even after Osaka had opted for the high road and deleted her tweet and blocked Kelly. "Poor @naomiosaka blocked me while taking a shot at me (guess she's only tough on the courts)," Kelly wrote. "She is apparently arguing that she shot her many covers b/4 publicly claiming she was too socially anxious to deal w/press. Truth is she just doesn't like Qs she can't control. Admit it."


Kelly, of course, isn't the only media personality who felt the need to mock and belittle someone struggling with mental illness. English TV personality Piers Morgan tweeted of Osaka's Sports Illustrated cover, "ANOTHER magazine cover for brave inspiring Naomi! No wonder she had no time for beastly media press conferences!" Following Kelly's self-important announcement that she'd been blocked by Osaka, Morgan chimed in via tweet: "Yep, and she just blocked me too. The only media Ms Osaka wants to tolerate are sycophantic magazine editors telling her how perfect she is."

Morgan and Kelly were just two of many mostly white, middle-aged right-wing media personalities who felt compelled to dunk on a 23-year-old Black and Japanese athlete for a magazine photoshoot she shot months ago. It's unclear what point if any they were trying to make here. Rather than make a point, Kelly and Morgan's tweets come off as a desperate and racist ploy for attention through tearing down a trailblazing Black woman, who's courageously been open about her struggles with anxiety and depression. If Kelly is so desperate to talk about the "truth," it's as simple as this: Kelly is a right-wing "journalist" who was fired from NBC three years ago after defending blackface as appropriate for Halloween, and Morgan himself left ITV's "Good Morning Britain" after backlash for his racist harassment of Meghan Markle, another Black woman who's openly struggled with mental health and suicidal ideation. In contrast with these two, Osaka is one of the most decorated and talented athletes in the world.

Where Kelly and Morgan share a long history of tearing down women of color, and especially Black women, and generally spewing racist conspiracy theories and gossip on the interwebs, Osaka has been paving the way for other athletes not just through her brilliant tennis abilities, but also her championing of the importance of prioritizing mental health. The dominant sports culture has long taken advantage of athletes' labor, and bred entitlement among media and fans to total, unfiltered access to athletes. In challenging this culture, Osaka is inspiring athletes around the world and all people with mental health struggles to be unapologetic about doing what they need to do to take care of themselves, and be unafraid to ask for what they need.

As cruel and heinous as Kelly's attacks on a woman who's been open about her mental illness may be, her ultimate insignificance can be summed up by Osaka's flippant misspelling of Kelly's name. "Do better Megan," indeed.

Meghan McCain's implosion on 'The View' was the 'natural outcome' of ABC's failed experiment

On July 1, "The View" co-host Meghan McCain announced her planned departure at the end of the show's 24th season later this month, leaving many to wonder if we'll ever uncover the mystery of who her father is. The announcement unsurprisingly sparked joyous reaction from McCain's many online critics — and also undoubtedly brought some relief to her fellow co-hosts, many of whom have visibly struggled to put up with some of her most outlandish, misinformed and offensive takes throughout her nearly four-year tenure on the show.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

McCain's departure, and the years of on-air infighting, ignorance and racism that preceded it, warrant a fair amount of interrogation as to what she was even doing on the show in the first place (besides bewildering us with an array of dubious hair art). There are plenty of warm, optimistic explanations for this casting, like the importance of representing diversity of thought and perspective, or the classic, welcoming "both sides." After all, ABC might have seen McCain's inclusion as just good business — plenty of the show's target female audiences watching "The View" on weekday afternoons may share her conservative viewpoints, or revere her father, the late John McCain, in case Meghan failed to mention that.

But there's a dark side to that viral meme of the stick-figure best friends, Sally, a Democrat, and Bob, a Republican, who are both presumably white. The glorification of across-the-aisle friendships, which "The View" has tried to simulate with McCain as a co-host, ignores the toll these relationships can have on people of color, LGBTQ folks, women, immigrants, survivors, or, of course, people hailing from countries that have been devastated by U.S. military actions and imperialism. The reductive notion that politics is "just" politics, and we can be friends with those who "disagree" with us, doesn't apply to people who don't have the privilege of being able to treat politics as abstraction, rather than their everyday, oppressive realities. Politics isn't something those who are marginalized can just compartmentalize and neatly put aside for the comfort of those who are complicit in their oppression.

The implosion of McCain's time on "The View" is the natural outcome of such a hackneyed sociopolitical experiment. It's the natural outcome of planting an unapologetically entitled and problematic white woman on a show to spar with or even argue against the humanity of her female co-hosts who generally know better. Now that McCain's time on the show nearing its end, it's worth revisiting her highlights to recognize just how harmful it was for ABC to platform her all these years.

October 2017: McCain's establishes her self-interest in her "View" debut

For her inauspicious debut, McCain decided to weigh in on Mike Pence's NFL stunt, in which he stormed out of a game knowing that players would be kneeling in protest. While the idea of protesting the anthem is a hot topic among conservatives, McCain turned the conversation to make it all about herself. This was just a sign of things to come.

April 2018: McCain tells "The View" audience they "deserve" Trump

When "The View" audiences applauded former House Speaker Paul Ryan's retirement announcement — yes, the Paul Ryan who tried to snatch health care from millions — McCain chastised audiences for celebrating. "If Paul Ryan is the greatest sin, this is how we got Trump, because if Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney and people like this are the worst politicians, then you deserve Trump," she said.

Of course, this holier-than-thou lecturing at audience members was hardly the shrewd commentary McCain intended for it to be. Under Trump, millions would suffer the unthinkable, from state-sanctioned family separation programs to the eventual, deadly mishandling of COVID — but, sure, Meghan. Celebrating the retirement of an evil politician means we had it coming!

December 2018: McCain almost drives Joy Behar to quit

In a particularly tense exchange between McCain and her co-host Behar, the women argue about Behar's choice to segue a conversation about the legacy of President George H.W. Bush into the urgent issue of climate change, which McCain found disrespectful.

At one point, as the cameras cut away, Behar reportedly said of McCain, "If this s**t doesn't stop I'm quitting this damn show. I can't take this much more." She continued, "I've tolerated a lot of s**t on this show but I'm at my wits' end with this entitled b***h. Enough already! Enough already! I'm not playing nice any longer."

At this point, McCain had been on the show for just over a year — a year of talking over her co-hosts, spewing misinformation. It probably wasn't the first time one of her fellow co-hosts threatened to quit over her, and it probably wasn't the last.

February 2019: McCain equates abortion with "infanticide"

At a time of increased violence targeting abortion providers because of baseless smears from Trump and other Republicans that equated abortion later in pregnancy with "infanticide," McCain added fuel to the fire, arguing again with Hostin, who she accused of thinking "a baby born from a botched abortion should be put down like a dog or a cat?!"

Abortion later in pregnancy can sometimes happen due to extreme health conditions, or because someone wasn't able to get an abortion earlier due to the expansive web of restrictions on care. The frequent conflation with this health service at any and every stage of pregnancy has frequently led to retaliatory violence on providers and patients.

McCain, of course, wasn't entertaining opposing views, or even just facts. "If the Democratic Party wants to be the party of infanticide, that is their choice," she said at the end of the segment.

McCain has a history of bringing up her hatred of abortion on the show, from baseless right-wing myths on abortion to more recent criticisms of abortion as "a cardinal sin," arguing in favor of the Catholic Church's retaliation against President Biden. All of these takes, of course, were spewed in the presence of fellow co-host Whoop Goldberg, who has shared her story of self-inducing her abortion as an adolescent girl, decades ago. This insensitivity to Goldberg is hardly the only time McCain has been unapologetically, well, the worse.

March 2019: McCain cries at Rep. Omar's "anti-Semitism"

In what the Daily Beast's Justin Baragona aptly described as "some grievance cosplay," McCain responded to her interpretation of Rep. Omar's comments on Israel's financial influence over U.S. politicians by crying, and somehow casting herself as the victim of Omar's supposed "anti-Semitism."

"I take this very personally," McCain said of Omar's criticisms of Zionism. "I would go so far as to say I probably verge on being a Zionist as well," she continued, citing her family's close friendship with Jewish politician Joe Lieberman. "I take the hate crimes rising in this country incredibly seriously and I think what's happening in Europe is really scary. And I'm sorry if I'm getting emotional."

June 2019: McCain identifies self as "sacrificial Republican" of "The View"

In a routine, par-for-the-course argument with McCain's fellow co-hosts on what motivates Trump supporters, McCain at one point referred to herself as the show's "sacrificial Republican." In response to McCain's usual self-victimizing, co-host Joy Behar offered a sarcastic, "aww," to which McCain snapped back, "Oh don't feel bad for me, b***h, I'm paid to do this, okay. Don't feel bad for me." McCain, of course, was the one who had initiated the self-pity party, despite — as she points out — being paid to spew white-supremacist-lite commentary on the show.

December 2019: McCain calls herself the "Mother of Dragons"

As if the "Game of Thrones" series finale flop weren't enough to ruin the series for its legions of fans, McCain's self-identification with Daenerys Targaryen, "Mother of Dragons," was the nail in the coffin. While getting into it with Goldberg in a nastier-than-usual argument about — you guessed it! — politics, Goldberg, speaking for all of us, asked McCain point-blank, "Will you stop talking?"

McCain later took to Twitter to tweet out a GIF of Daenerys accompanied with the text, "Good morning – to all the fellow conservative 'girls' who won't be quiet." To be clear, there's nothing especially brave about having harmful political views that are written into oppressive laws across the country. There's certainly nothing brave about agreeing with the marginalization of poor people of color. That said, there might be some merit to McCain's conflation of herself with an intolerant and tyrannical imperialist like Daenerys — perhaps McCain isn't always wrong!

March 2020: McCain harangues Sen. Elizabeth Warren, is ignored

If there's one thing Senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is famous for, it's "having a plan for that." And she was nothing if not prepared to deal with Meghan McCain being Meghan McCain in her March 2020 appearance on "The View." Between offering her wide-ranging plans and policy positions on a wealth tax, universal child care, and funding public education for all, Warren simply ignores McCain's numerous, rude outbursts and interruptions, and doesn't waver once or give McCain a chance to derail her. Jezebel called the segment an "excellent lesson in ignoring McCain," which is a lesson McCain's own co-hosts and ABC might have done well to learn from, earlier.

June 2020: McCain presumes to know more about voting rights than Stacey Abrams, calls neighborhood a "war zone"

In a particularly embarrassing segment with the hindsight of the events of November 2020, McCain attempted to condescendingly explain the voting accessibility trends in guest Stacey Abram's own state of Georgia, to Abrams herself. Abrams nearly pulled off an upset victory in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, only to be defeated by rampant, racist voter suppression efforts in the state. Rather than be demoralized by the loss, Abrams instead worked tirelessly to understand voter suppression trends, strategize on how to overcome these trends, and even flip her state blue.

In any case, on that day in June, Abrams had some time, which she lent to schooling McCain, and tearing apart the "View" host's nonsense about the majority of Georgia counties that experienced ballot and voting problems in the 2018 election being run by Democratic leaders. Trump would notably co-opt these conspiracy theories upon losing Georgia in 2020.

"The reality is your access to democracy shouldn't depend on your county of residence," Abrams said. She continued, "Fundamentally we deserve to have elections that work for everyone. And yes, I believe that we saw a combination of malfeasance which is a continuance of the voter suppression we saw that [Georgia Secretary of State] Brad Raffensperger inherited from [Georgia Gov.] Brian Kemp, but it's also incompetence. And if we don't solve both of those problems, we're going to have a national breakdown of our election come November."

That same month, amid surging protests against racist police violence, McCain who is decisively against this First Amendment right, called her wealthy Manhattan neighborhood "a war zone." She said, "This is not America. Our leaders have abandoned us and continue to let great American cities burn to the ground and be destroyed. I never could have fathomed this." On top of being plainly inaccurate, her comments were foremost offensive to people who live in actual war zones, and certainly offensive to people protesting for safety from militarized police forces.

April 2021: Following Ohio police killing a teenage Black girl, McCain criticizes NBA star LeBron James

Shortly after the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin, the Minnesota police officer charged with killing George Floyd, Ohio police killed Ma'Khia Bryant, a teenage girl. The killing of Bryant sparked outraged response, including from LeBron James, who demanded "#accountability" for the police responsible in a tweet.

"When you have people like LeBron James posting pictures of this police officer before this has been adjudicated and litigated," McCain started, "you're also putting that police officer's life in danger, and I would like killing to stop in this country and violence to stop."

Throughout the segment, McCain repeatedly insisted she "heard" and "understood" everything her fellow co-host Sunny Hostin said about racist police violence, yet made the decision to focus instead on violence supposedly targeting police officers, and violence broadly, blaming citizen protesters rather than militarized police departments, and racist police violence.

May 2021: McCain equates the "Squad" of progressive women of color in Congress with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley are often referred to as "the Squad" — in a warm, badass way by their supporters, and a dismissive, infantilizing way by their detractors. More recently, in May this year, McCain equated their passionate support for health care for all, compassionate immigration laws, living wages, and other common-sense progressive policies with the unrepentant fascism of Rep. Greene, shortly after Greene equated the Holocaust with COVID vaccinations.
"If [Greene] is the face of the Republicans, the Squad is the face of the Democrats," McCain said. "I would love Democrats to put that same type of energy into what's happening on the left." She continued, "Quite frankly, this is how people get red-pilled. The media doesn't want the Squad to look bad. They just want Marjorie Taylor to look bad."

* * *

As McCain's time on "The View" comes to an end, unfortunately, her legacy of giving representation to the many white women who condemn racism in words while checking off whole Bingo sheets of racist microaggressions, will continue on one platform or another, lest she decry being "canceled" by Twitter liberals. Such is the most frightening, insidious thing about white women like McCain, who are "reasonable" Republicans, and are therefore entitled to not just platforms but friendships with those across the aisle: Their cloying sense of victimhood when they're disliked or socially rejected for holding abhorrent, racist views, can be weaponized at the drop of a hat against marginalized people who are seen as rejecting them.

Whenever a person of color supposedly allows politics to disrupt their relationship with someone with dehumanizing political beliefs, they're the ones seen as intolerant and aggressive, rather than the person with views like McCain's. They're the ones expected to expend their emotional labor to offer a crash course in patriarchy and white supremacy to "friends" with dehumanizing, triggering political beliefs.

For all McCain's whining about so-called "cancel culture," conservative values remain deeply institutionalized and normalized at nearly every level of government, and broadly within our culture. It's not impossible to be friends with those with whom you may share vehement disagreements — it is, however, impossible to be friends with people who repeatedly disrespect you. The cocoon world of McCain's time on "The View" had to break open eventually.

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