ABC's Yunji de Nies Enjoys Recounting 'GOP Cat Fight'

Reporters and hosts on Tuesday's "Good Morning America" seemed to take glee in recounting the "GOP cat fight" between conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham and John McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain. Co-host Diane Sawyer teased the segment as discussing a "battle of Republican blondes" and a "Republican girl fight."

Correspondent Yunji de Nies asserted, "The GOP cat fight all started when McCain criticized conservative pundit Ann Coulter." In a Daily Beast column, Ms. McCain trashed Coulter as "radical" and "insulting." Then, on her radio show, Ingraham derided the senator's daughter and described her as "plus-sized."

This, apparently, was making "the political very personal." (Of course, was McCain not being personal by calling Coulter "radical?") De Nies certainly seemed to come down on McCain's side. She described the blogger's column on weight as "really, really inspiring."

NBC's "Today" show also covered the story on Tuesday. An onscreen graphic called the event a "conservative clash." Reporter Norah O'Donnell helpfully instructed, "As Republicans struggle to find a clear voice and message, analysts say this latest battle of the bulge isn't helping."

A partial transcript of the March 17 GMA segment, which aired at 8:05am, follows:

7am tease

DIANE SAWYER: And, is this Republican girl fight? Meghan McCain versus Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham.

MEGHAN MCCAIN: I'm like, kiss my fat [bleep].

SAWYER: A kind of battle of Republican blondes. And is weight really fair game?

8:05

ROBERTS: Now, the latest fight in the Republican Party is not about politics. It's about pounds. Meghan McCain, a political blogger and daughter of Senator John McCain, is lashing out against a conservative radio commentator who criticized her about her weight, calling her plus-size. Yep. It's opened a new debate about women and body issues. And ABC's Yunji de Nies has more on that. Good morning.

YUNJI DE NIES: Good morning, Robin. Well, Meghan McCain said she was just trying to have a political debate. But this all now feels more like the movie "Mean Girls." The question is, why do women feel the need to attack each other so personally?

MEGHAN MCCAIN: Everyone from Tyra Banks to Oprah, to Hillary Clinton, to my mother. Why are we so obsessed with weight? Why? That's what I feel like right now. I'm like, kiss my fat ass.

DE NIES: Meghan McCain wasted few words striking back at conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, who dismissed the 24-year-old as a plus-sized model.

MEGHAN MCCAIN: What do young women think when I speak my mind about politics and I want to have a political discussion about the ideological future of the Republican Party and the answer is, she's fat. She shouldn't have an opinion? What kind of message are we sending young women?

DE NIES: The GOP cat fight all started when McCain criticized conservative pundit Ann Coulter. She wrote in her online column, she found Coulter "offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing." Laura Ingraham then took to the air waves and made the political very personal.

LAURA INGRAHAM: I was really hoping that I was going to get that role in "The Real World." But, then, I realized, well, they don't like plus-sized models. They only like women who look a certain way.

DE NIES: McCain says she is a size eight. During her father's presidential campaign, she hit a size 10. That's when someone handed her a plastic surgeon's business card and suggested she needed liposuction. But, even a size ten is hardly plus size. The average American woman is a size 14. McCain says Tyra Banks was her inspiration to fight back.

TYRA BANKS: Kiss my fat ass!

DE NIES: After tabloids ran photo with captions like "America's Next Top Waddle," the runway model-turned talk show host, launched a series of shows on self-esteem.

BANKS: It's not about a fight against the tabloids. It's a fight for women.

DE NIES: But, often, it's women who are the most vicious.

COURTNEY E. MARTIN (Author, "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters"): Any woman in the public eye, knows there's this danger of being judged for your appearance rather than your ideas. Women who get into sort of this competitive, sexist mentality, use that weapon against one another.

...

DE NIES: McCain says she's not looking to lose weight. And that her dress size has no place in politics.

MCCAIN: There's no place for weight criticism of women in 2009. There's no place for it.

DE NIES: We reached out to Laura Ingraham. She said she was as tough on Meghan McCain as she is on any man. In her latest column though, Meghan McCain calls the attack heartless and says she wants to show women that their size has nothing to do with their worth. And, Robin, if you read this column, it's really, really inspiring. And it's also interesting because so many women are writing in. And all the comments- it crosses parties.

ROBERTS: I'm sure.

DE NIES: It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican. Or what your size is. She's getting a lot of support.

ROBERTS: This is one thing we all can agree on. Enough. Enough. Yunji, thanks so much.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org