Speaking on The View, Whoopi Goldberg slammed comments made by Kelly Sadler, a White House aide who made disparaging comments about Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and his cancer diagnosis. Sadler made headlines after she said that Senator McCain's opposition to Gina Haspel's nomination for CIA director because "he's dying anyway."
Goldberg, responding to View co-host Meghan McCain's spirited defense of her father, suggested that Sadler's comments may be seen as acceptable because President Donald Trump has normalized such incendiary behavior.
"I guess the fish stinks from the head because it's easy to say something like that and not think, 'Ooh, that is a wrongheaded comment,'" Goldberg said.
"Unfortunately, you are under someone who does this, and this was not the only despicable thing done," she added.
Meghan McCain, meanwhile, said she's "surprised" that Sadler has not been fired after making the comments about her father, who is battling glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer.
"The thing that surprises me most is ... I don't understand what kind of environment you're working in when that would be acceptable and you can come to work the next day and still have a job," McCain said.
"Kelly, she said, addressing Sadler, "there's a little news flash ... We're all dying. I'm dying; you're dying. We're all dying."
McCain added that she and her family have been taking Sadler's comments in stride. "Don't feel bad for me or my family. We're really strong," she said.
There's so much more love and prayer and amazing energy being generated toward us than anything negative at all. And I feel so blessed. My dad's actually doing really well right now, and I believe in the power of prayer and I think it's helping.
Since my dad's been diagnosed - it's almost a year, July 19, I really feel like I understand the meaning of life, and it is not how you die. It is how you live, and I always have had something to believe in. My dad's about character and bipartisanship and something greater than yourself and believing in this country and believing in the fact that we as Americans can still come together, and that's something I grew up in and feeds me every day. I'm not scared of death anymore. I'm just not.
The White House, through a spokesperson, did not dispute the remark. The official said, "We respect Senator McCain's service to our nation, and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time."
Another White House official said Sadler, who is in charge of surrogate communications, meant it as a joke, "but it fell flat."
Sadler's comments have nonetheless opened her and the White House to a firestorm of criticism.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said earlier today that "decency" in the White House had hit "rock bottom" following Sadler's comments.
"People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday," Biden said in a statement.
He continued, echoing Goldberg's sentiments:
John McCain is a genuine hero -- a man of valor whose sacrifices for his country are immeasurable. As he fights for his life, he deserves better -- so much better.
Given this White House's trail of disrespect toward John and others, this staffer is not the exception to the rule; she is the epitome of it.
Biden's eldest son, Joseph Robinette "Beau" Biden, died in 2015 from the same type of cancer that Senator McCain is currently battling.
Senator McCain's opposition to Gina Haspel's CIA nomination––the event which preceded Sadler's remarks––has been well documented.
In a statement earlier this week, McCain urged the Senate to reject Haspel's nomination to be the director of the CIA. The senior senator cited Haspel’s refusal in testimony to acknowledge “torture’s immorality.”
Haspel’s nomination has been controversial. President Donald Trump tapped her for the CIA position, sparking an outcry over her involvement in the George W. Bush administration’s interrogation program after 9/11. Haspel has been criticized for using torture during her career at the CIA and for destroying evidence of such torture.
McCain is a former prisoner-of-war who was captured by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. He has long criticized the U.S.’ use of torture.
I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country & has devoted her professional life to its service & defen… https://t.co/nSU8tuawsj— John McCain (@John McCain)1525912032.0
His statement reads as follows:
Today, Gina Haspel testified before the Senate and to the country about her qualifications to lead the CIA. This occasion provided an opportunity to provide details about her experience in the CIA, explain her involvement in the so-called enhanced interrogation program during the Bush Administration, and account for the mistakes the country made in torturing detainees held in U.S. custody after the September 11th attacks. Unfortunately, the testimony the American people heard from Ms. Haspel today failed to address these concerns.
Like many Americans, I understand the urgency that drove the decision to resort to so-called enhanced interrogation methods after our country was attacked. I know that those who used enhanced interrogation methods and those who approved them wanted to protect Americans from harm. I appreciate their dilemma and the strain of their duty. But as I have argued many times, the methods we employ to keep our nation safe must be as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world.
I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense. However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying. I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.
McCain’s statement comes after Haspel told the Senate that she would not allow the CIA to resume interrogations.
“I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal,” Haspel said. “I would absolutely not permit it.”
Haspel stopped short, however, of criticizing the CIA for its past use of waterboarding and other methods which critics say amount to torture.
“I’m not going to sit here with the benefit of hindsight and judge the very good people who made hard decisions who were running the agency in very extraordinary circumstances at the time,” Haspel said.