Meghan McCain has never been a shrinking violet. The 28-year-old daughter of Arizona Senator and one-time Republican Presidential nominee John McCain has made a place for herself as a cable-news personality, writer and bodacious blonde embodiment of young blood in the fusty political spheres in which she travels.
In recent weeks McCain has upped her profile significantly with Raising McCain, her new series on the upstart television network Pivot. Part talk show and part news magazine, the series finds McCain and a group of friends and experts exploring topics—privacy, sex, spirituality, civic engagement—that matter to the young, smart viewers the network hopes to be pulling in.
McCain recently stopped by DuJour to talk about life as a public figure, the topics she keeps off limits and what she’s done to make her parents cringe.
What made you want to do TV?
I had done a lot of stuff in television before but had always wanted to do something more fun and directed toward young people. Luckily Pivot came around at just the right time, when I was ready to do something a bit wilder.
Pivot’s a brand new channel. Why is that appealing to you?
At my very first meeting with Pivot, I spoke with the president Evan Shapiro. Now, I’m not easily impressed with people—I know when someone is BS-ing me—but in that first meeting he was almost fighting with me, which I loved. A lot of people are scared to fight with me. He asked whether I wanted to be a media personality or a voice, and that was the first time someone had put it like that to me. Anyone who could see my career in those terms was someone I wanted to work with.
You’re not known to be shy, but were you at all nervous to put yourself out there in this way?
There are of course things about the show that make me cringe—I never realized quite what a dirty trucker mouth I have—but I like the excitement of it all. I grew up in the 1990s, and MTV News was such a force to be reckoned with, but I am meeting kids now who don’t know who Kurt Loder is. I want to give people that.
Is there anything that’s off limits for you on the show?
Anything that’s too into my personal life. I got set up on a group date in one of the episodes, and that was the hardest thing for me to do in the entire season. I don’t like talking about the guys I’m dating publicly because it invites too much criticism for them and I don’t want to bring my bullshit into their lives.
In the first episode of the season, you say that you don’t mind giving up your privacy for the greater good. What is the greater good you think you’re serving?
I grew up as a Republican girl in Phoenix, Arizona, and I didn’t know there was a bigger world out there. When I moved to New York City, I started going to gay bars and seeing different elements of life—anything and anyone is here in this city. I want conservative kids to know that it’s OK to disagree with their parents. As long as you’re respectful, it’s cool to see what’s out there. It’s important to get out information and share ideas. And by the end of that episode, I’d changed my mind a bit.
Were there any misconceptions about you that you want the series to help clear up?
This show is me, it’s who I am around my friends and my family, even with all the swearing and the drinking and the ugly parts. But I like that. I think the only currency that matters is authenticity.
Are there issues you’re especially interested in exploring?
We did an episode all about young people coming out and what happens when your values clash with your families. It was important for me to show a lot of Republicans out there who support gay marriage. There are a lot of issues I was curious about but some of this just happened as we were making it.
Right now I’m obsessed with the meth epidemic in America, especially in Arizona. This is an issue that has touched my life—I know people who’ve become addicted. I definitely want to do an episode on that. There are so many things; I could do this show for years.
Speaking of parents, is there anything you do to avoiding upsetting your own?
Oh, no. I blew past that a long time ago. I talk about whatever I want to talk about. The only thing that they cringed about was when I did an interview with Playboy. Now, I think the magazine is iconic and I was so flattered to be asked, but my father did not love it.
Of all the ways you could have ended up in Playboy, though…
I know! But he wasn’t happy. And my mother doesn’t love it when I talk about sex.
How do you think the show will change the way people view you?
I want people to think outside the box when it comes to young people. I want people to see who I really am and they can love it or leave it.