POLITICO Playbook: ‘The View’ struggles to find a Republican

POLITICO Playbook: ‘The View’ struggles to find a Republican

Before taking off for the holidays, the four long-standing hosts of “The View” had a message for executive producer BRIAN TETA: We’re tired of the rotating cast of Republican guest hosts.

When MEGHAN MCCAIN departed in August, Teta initially told the Wrap that he was “taking a little time” to find a replacement. Since then, ABC has tried out a variety of conservative fill-ins, including S.E. CUPP, ALYSSA FARAH, MORGAN ORTAGUS, CONDOLEEZZA RICE, CARLY FIORINA, and GRETCHEN CARLSON.

Nearly six months in, the show has yet to settle on a permanent replacement. And now, the longtime co-hosts — JOY BEHAR, WHOOPI GOLDBERG and SUNNY HOSTIN — are upping the pressure to pick a successor, and voicing their displeasure at having to introduce new guest hosts week after week in a seemingly endless process that they find disruptive to the flow of the show.

“Right now, we still do need a really conservative voice,” Hostin told New York Magazine in November. “And we need someone that’s not duplicative of anyone else on the panel.”

According to a spokesperson for “The View,” the program will continue to audition potential hosts in the new year, bringing some women back for a second turn. Farah will return in January, and the show will bring in other big names, like BARI WEISS and LISA LING — neither of whom exactly fit the “conservative” label — while the network continues to conduct focus groups on the audience’s reaction.

Sources close to the show said that the search has stalled as executives struggle to find a conservative cast-member who checks all the right boxes. They will not consider a Republican who is a denier of the 2020 election results, embraced the January 6 riots, or is seen as flirting too heavily with fringe conspiracy theories or the MAGA wing of the GOP. But at the same time, the host must have credibility with mainstream Republicans, many of whom still support DONALD TRUMP.

“The problem is that they bring people on under the mantle that this woman is a conservative, when they’re ‘Never Trump,’ so they don’t represent the country,” said one of the rotating guest hosts.

At the same time, the anti-Trump conservative can’t be seen as too chummy with the other co-hosts, as the network’s market-research shows that the audience wants to see the women spar. Sources said that this has hurt the chances of ANA NAVARRO, a regular fill-in on the conservative chair who worked as a surrogate for JOE BIDEN in 2020: She is perceived by the producers as too friendly with the other hosts and not a traditional Republican.

“They are really looking for a unicorn,” said a former show staffer. “They want someone who is going to fight — but not too hard, because they don’t want it to be ugly and bickering.”

It doesn’t help that there’s a perception that whoever sits in the conservative host slot is on borrowed time, with prominent Republican former co-hosts like NICOLLE WALLACE, ELIZABETH HASSELBECK, ABBY HUNTSMAN and McCain leaving the show with claims of being bullied by their co-hosts and ABC executives on-set and off, while veterans like Goldberg and Behar have thrived.

Sources said that the show was eager to recruit young libertarian KAT TIMPF, but she turned them down because of the show’s reputation for treating conservatives poorly and her contract with Fox. Timpf declined to comment to Playbook. Others have said that the show has a responsibility to fill the conservative chair with a strong Republican co-host ahead of the midterms if they are going to be a credible political talk show.

“Our plans are on track as we continue to look for the right person to join our panel of smart, dynamic women,” said a “View” spokesperson. “We look forward to welcoming guest co-hosts for return appearances and introducing new names into the mix in the new year.”

Good Monday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.

IN MEMORIAM — Our illustrious colleagues at POLITICO Magazine have put together a package of obituaries and remembrances of the “political players, agitators, chroniclers and pioneers who died this year — and why they mattered.” Among those profiled: COLIN POWELL, BOB DOLE, BOB MOSES, RICHARD TRUMKA, bell hooks, RUTH ANN MINNER, DONALD RUMSFELD, SHELDON ADELSON, RUSH LIMBAUGH, LEE HART, VERNON JORDAN, G. GORDON LIDDY, ROSE OCHI and CARL LEVIN.

Click here for all 33 profiles, written by the likes of CONDOLEEZZA RICE, Reps. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-N.J.) and JUDY CHU (D-Calif.), former Rep. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-Fla.) and more.

BIDEN’S YEAR IN REVIEW — WATCH: Biden got by with little help from his friends: A Beatles remix

During the first year of the Biden presidency, the nation just seemed to want to double down on divisiveness. Biden thought his first year was going to be like a happy Beatles song. The country needed help. It was time to get back and come together … over him. We could get by with a little help from our friends! Please enjoy a very Beatles parody of Biden’s hard day’s night and year, 2021.


— 10:05 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief.

— 11:30 a.m.: Biden will join the White House Covid-19 response team’s regular call with the National Governors Association to discuss the pandemic.

— 12:15 p.m.: Biden will depart the White House en route to Rehoboth Beach, Del., where he is scheduled to arrive at 1:15 p.m.

— 2:30 p.m.: The president will virtually receive his weekly economic briefing.





— “Coronavirus cases are being reported at record levels across the world — surpassing even last winter’s devastating peak in some places,” write WaPo’s Bryan Pietsch and Annabelle Timsit. The UK, Italy, Ireland and France are among those nations that broke their previous records over the weekend. Here in the U.S., “health officials warn that the country could soon see more than 1 million new cases per day, far beyond last winter’s peak of 248,000.”

— Sunday travel plans got totally derailed. “As of Sunday evening, more than 1,300 flights with at least one stop in the United States, and over two times as many around the world, had been canceled,” NYT’s Marc Tracy writes.

— Health experts are urging city and state officials to “do more to ensure that the most vulnerable — particularly nursing home residents — get boosters quickly,” NYT’s Sharon Otterman and Joseph Goldstein write. “New York, like much of the country, was slow to push boosters before the new variant arrived a few weeks ago, and has largely left administering third doses to the long-term care facilities themselves, some of which are struggling with the task.”

— Business leaders are asking Congress for another dip into the national piggy bank. “The question Congress will face when it returns in January is whether the latest Covid-19 wave justifies a new rescue beyond the $1 trillion of emergency small business assistance lawmakers have approved since March 2020. Most of the programs have been tapped out or are winding down,” Zachary Warmbrodt writes.

— Meanwhile, Biden’s plan to use USAID to help vaccinate the world in 2022 is “running out of money,” Erin Banco reports. Over the past year, the agency has “largely relied on more than $1.6 billion allocated through the American Rescue Plan to help facilitate the shipment and administration of Covid-19 vaccine doses internationally. The agency has either used that money or already earmarked it for several months into the new year to help countries prepare to receive and distribute the doses, the officials said.”


BEHIND-THE-SCENES BACKBITING — Daniel Lippman has the scoop on “an explosive whisper campaign that tried to sink” STEVEN BONDY’s appointment as U.S. ambassador to Bahrain. “This is one such story you’ve not read before. It features a decorated diplomat with an unblemished record, about to claim a career-defining prize: an ambassadorial posting to a key Middle East ally. It involves serious accusations and counter-accusations of racism, none of which were made publicly. Hidden not far beneath the surface are personal histories and policy disagreements — in this case between appointees of former President Donald Trump and the ‘Deep State’ bureaucracy that haven’t been put to bed with the advent of a new administration. To tell the tale properly, we need to go back three years and start in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.”


HOLIDAY SHOPPING UP BIG — Despite many worries that the new surge coupled with headache-inducing supply chain woes would stunt holiday sales this year, data says that doesn’t seem to be the case. “American consumers spent at a brisk pace over the shopping season, as an early rush to stores amid worries about supply and delivery problems muted the effects of a Covid-19 surge that disrupted some businesses and crimped spending before Christmas,” WSJ’s Suzanne Kapner and Paul Ziobro report.


THE NEW RULES OF MONOPOLY — “A new breed of antitrust activists say it’s time to rewrite the rules” that have long protected competition in the American economy, reports Leah Nylen. And “unlike many of the hottest issues embroiling Washington, the antitrust debate doesn’t break down along neat partisan or ideological lines. Supporters of sweeping change include progressive Democrats like Massachusetts Sen. ELIZABETH WARREN and Federal Trade Commission Chair LINA KHAN, as well as conservative Republicans like Missouri Sen. JOSH HAWLEY and Colorado Rep. KEN BUCK, all of them facing resistance within their own parties.”


MAGA MOVES — Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress are aiming to grow their ranks in the midterms by primarying establishment Republicans. “The goal, organizers of the effort say, is to supersize the MAGA group in the House from its current loose membership of about a half-dozen — and give it the heft that, combined with its close alliance with Trump, would put it in a position to wield significant influence should Republicans win the House majority,” WaPo’s Colby Itkowitz writes. A number that jumped out at us: “In 2020, Trump won 45 [House] districts by more than 15 percentage points. Under new maps already finalized in more than a dozen states, he would have won 78 districts by that margin.”

THE NEW GOP — WINSOME SEARS’ road to becoming Virginia’s lieutenant governor — and the first Black woman elected to statewide office in the commonwealth — was unlikely. Now, she wants to change the conversation among Black Republican voters. “This is the question that Ms. Sears embodies: whether she is a singular figure who won a surprise victory or the vanguard of a major political realignment, dissolving longtime realities of race and partisan identification,” NYT’s Campbell Robertson writes in Richmond, Va. “Democrats say there is little evidence for the latter, and that Ms. Sears won with typical Republican voters in an especially Republican year. But Ms. Sears insists that many Black and immigrant voters naturally side with Republicans on a variety of issues — and that some are starting to realize that. ‘The only way to change things is to win elections,’ she said. ‘And who better to help make that change but me? I look like the strategy.’”


FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — PBS’ “In Their Own Words” series will debut a new episode on former German Chancellor ANGELA MERKEL on Tuesday, Dec. 28. The special will feature interviews with HILLARY CLINTON, GEORGE W. BUSH and others to explore how Merkel “overcame fierce opposition, a vicious press and rampant sexism to lead Germany and Europe with a steady focus on peace and freedom.” In an exclusive clip shared with Playbook, Clinton and Bush talk about Merkel’s dealings with world leaders like Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN. Bush even tells a story about when he introduced his dog, Barney, to Putin. The 2:49 clip

ON THE GROUND — In Ukraine, the military is training civilians as a precaution if Russia takes the extraordinary step to attack the country, drawing on “a lesson from the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan of the past two decades, when guerrillas provided enduring resistance in the face of vastly superior American firepower,” NYT’s Andrew Kramer writes in Kyiv.


LAW OF THE LAND — “Federal prosecutors are increasingly using racketeering statutes to go after a broader array of criminal activity, applying them in ways that deviate from the law’s original goal of dismantling organized crime,” WSJ’s Deanna Paul reports.

Alexander Vindman portrayed himself on Sunday night’s season finale of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” While on book tour in the episode, Vindman overhears Larry David on the phone asking a Santa Monica city councilwoman for a “favor” while dangling a large donation in front of her.

IN MEMORIAM — via AP’s Jake Bleiberg: “Sarah Weddington, a Texas lawyer who as a 26-year-old successfully argued the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court, died Sunday. She was 76.”

via NYT’s Vimal Patel and Azi Paybarah: “Richard Marcinko, the hard-charging founding commander of Navy SEAL Team 6, the storied and feared unit within an elite commando force that later carried out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, died Saturday at his home in Fauquier County, Va. He was 81.”

TRANSITION — Jon Selib will be managing director and global external affairs leader at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. He previously was SVP of global policy and public affairs at Pfizer, and is a Max Baucus alum.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Michael Ly, director of public policy at the American Kidney Fund, and Katie Leesman, an associate at Ballard Spahr, welcomed Vinh Michael Ly last Monday. Pic

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) … Laura Lott of the American Alliance of Museums … Shéhérazade Semsar Emily MurphyJulie Benkoske … NBC’s Savannah GuthrieMercedes SchlappKurt VolkerAndi Lipstein Fristedt … Gray Television’s Jacqueline PolicastroOsaremen OkoloJessica McCreight BrownMarc Smrikarov of Chatham Strategies … James Burnham Andi PringleEmily Hytha … Google’s Jeff Murray … Kamau MarshallTierney SneedJoe HarrisJosh Litten … BCW Global’s Karen Hughes … POLITICO Europe’s Tim Ball and Nick Vinocur Arthur KentBenji Backer of the American Conservation Coalition … Hemanshu NigamMike ThomasBarclay PalmerJoseph CollinsAndrew ChesleyCatherine Marx former Reps. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa) and Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) (6-0) … James King

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