The former show host said her decision to leave the daytime talk show came after one remark from co-host Joy Behar that made her break down — and question continuing on the show as a whole.
The jab from Behar came after McCain took maternity leave when she had daughter Liberty, who turns 2 this October.
"I finally went back to the show, and the day I went back to the show, Joy Behar said on air, 'Nobody missed you, we didn't miss you, you shouldn't have come back,'" McCain told the Commentary Magazine Podcast.
"And I just — I started hysterically crying," said McCain, 37. "Sorry gentlemen, I know, I started lactating on air, and I started crying."
Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty; Santiago Felipe/Getty Meghan McCain and Joy Behar
The episode, which aired in January 2021, ended in a spat between McCain and Behar. "You missed me so much, Joy," McCain joked first. "You missed me so much when I was on maternity leave. You missed me so much. You missed fighting with me."
Behar's response? "I did not. I did not miss you. Zero."
McCain rolled her eyes to Behar's quip and shot back, "That's so nasty. That's, like, so nasty. I was teasing and then you said something rude."
At the end of her time on The View, McCain said it did come down to being ostracized for her conservative beliefs. She told PEOPLE she hoped to sway The View's "toxic" nature. "I kind of feel The View is like when the guy who has a bad reputation wants to date you and you're like, 'I'm going to be the one to change him,'" McCain said.
Lou Rocco/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty
"That's what The View is to me," she continued. "I was like, 'I'm going to be the one to change this. I'm going to be the one that's going to help the culture and whip it into shape and all these things.'"
Of the sometimes volatile discourse on the show, McCain noted, "I really loved debating politics. I actually really love fighting, as long as there are rules. I don't like when it's personal, and it started getting really, really personal."
Two new Republican co-hosts will join The View in McCain's place. The series announced Thursday that political commentator Ana Navarro and former Trump staffer Alyssa Farah Griffin will take permanent seats at the table.
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The View airs weekdays on ABC (check local listings).