Since its debut 20 years ago, "The View" has always been a show about women debating their different POVs on everything from politics to pop culture. With Donald Trump setting off major news stories nearly every day of his presidency with his tweets alone, the show's political commentary has definitely taken center stage of late.
While the current panel -- made up of Jedediah Bila, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Paula Faris, Sunny Hostin and Sara Haines -- are basically all in agreement over Trump himself, his administration's policies have still sparked some intense moments. Recently, passionate debates over healthcare, budget cuts, abortion and even Meryl Streep's Golden Globes speech have made headlines and set social media ablaze.
Bila first started appearing on the morning show back in 2015 before becoming full-time co-host in 2016, just in time for the election. The former Fox News correspondent considers herself a libertarian and "strong fiscal conservative" with no ride-or-die allegiance to any particular party. As anyone who watches "The View" knows, she definitely didn't vote for Donald, putting her in a very interesting position as a conservative who also doesn't hold back when it comes to criticism of a Republican president.
In an interview with TooFab, the panelist opened up about what it's like to work for the show in a post-Trump era, specifically from the POV of one of its conservative voices. She admitted it is certainly a "polarizing time" and her political stance often puts her in "a position where I get hit from both sides," the left and the right.
Bila talks working alongside outspoken Whoopi Goldberg, whether she'd prefer a more conservative moderator and how she deals with her "haters."
Has being on the show changed at all pre-Trump vs. now that he's in office?
I came in when it was already election heavy and I, at the time when I first started making appearances I was still on Fox News, so I was used to doing a lot of news. And when I came in there was a lot of campaign coverage, election coverage and now there's a lot of politics centered around the new president. For me, my appearances on the show were always surrounded by politics in at least the first couple of blocks, so that was no surprise. It's been very exciting and it's a very polarizing time. I think there are folks on the left who don't like Trump and then there's a lot of people on the right who don't like Trump but are conservatives, so there's just a lot of conversation that's really interesting happening around politics. It's a really good time to be political and opinionated and be at a table with a lot of different, challenging opinions.
That's what 'The View' is all about and nothing illustrates it more than the current political climate.
Yeah, I think it's really nice. People always ask me what it feels like to be the libertarian conservative there and I always say I really like it because there's a lot of pushback on not only me but a lot of challenge to what I'm saying. We kind of all disagree on different things, which is nice. It's really surprising sometimes that a person you think will toe a certain line or issue doesn't necessarily. But we also find a way to have a lot of different views present at the table just naturally and organically, that's just what the cast looks like right now. I think its a really exciting time to be part of that.
I know you didn't vote for Trump, but you are one of the conservative voices on the show. Is it harder to fill that role at this time?
I always say that it would have been really great for me if Rand Paul had won or a Marco Rubio or someone that I were more passionate about or John Kasich, who I could have felt better about not only defending the policy, but defending the person. A lot of my issues with Trump centered around his statements about policy he had made prior to the campaign, which were really not conservative at all, and then some character concerns about him. I don't like that he tweets these things out about policy all the time.
I don't like his approach to media or politics very much, so it would be great if I had someone who was a strong principled libertarian conservative and who I also felt had a presidential character that I look for. I think what I've chosen to do is be true to who I am, defend the principles and not necessarily the Republican party or necessarily the president. But when there are things he does I agree with, I'm happy to defend them and when I think he's worthy of criticism, I'm happy to do that. For me, it's more important to defend fiscal conservatism, people keeping more of their hard earned cash, freedom in whatever form that takes, that's really my priority more than defending the person or a party.
Do you think people sometimes lump you in or think you did vote for Trump?
I was very open about that on the show from the beginning, saying that I couldn't vote for him and I was going to do a write-in. I did take some heat for that, people felt this is just a silly vote, you're handing it over to Hillary. Some felt I was helping Trump. Basically, it was like a wasted vote they were telling me.
And I felt like, look, this is my right to vote that people sacrificed their lives for and worked really hard to get for me and I can't vote for Hillary Clinton because she's a big government girl and I'm not and I can't vote for Donald Trump because I have legitimate concerns about not only his stance on issues and consistency but his character, so I chose to cast my vote for Rand Paul. I was very open about that and I think because of that, from the beginning, I don't necessarily get lumped in. Some of them do but if you know the show and you've been listening, you know where I stand. I'm a pretty fair critic of everyone when I feel it needs to happen.
How different do you think the show would be if it had a conservative moderator? Whoopi often gets the last word.
Whoopi, I adore her. She's one of my favorite people in the world and the reason is that I always feel that, first of all, my opinion is respected and I think she has a lot of respect that I come to the table with facts and backing up what I'm saying. I'm not a talking point driven person, so I really feel like she is a good judge of honesty and commitment to principle and as long as that is coming from an authentic place, I think she really allows for that voice to be present at the table.
For me, I don't really care what the opinion of the moderator is, I'm much more concerned that the moderator is open to differing opinions at the table and I find her to be really good with that. Even when she and I happen to disagree on something, I don't feel like my voice isn't welcome. She may disagree, I may disagree back, but it's an open dialogue and a conversation so I actually think she handles that quite well. And sometimes it's good for me to have someone who doesn't agree. It would be really boring if I were sitting on a panel were everyone was nodding their head in agreement with that I was saying. It's much more interesting for me to have someone kind of challenge what I'm saying a little bit.
Have you had an issue where you've reversed your thoughts on it after hearing both sides of the discussion?
That's tricky. It's interesting. Everyday I go in there, I go in with the head of 'Let me try to walk in someone else's shoes and see what they're saying,' so I've had moments on the show where I've revealed that I used to talk about an issue in a certain way and now I don't. For example, the immigration issue. We recently did a show where I talked about how I used to use that term 'illegal immigrant' and I evolved to see that not only is it inaccurate legally, it's not really a helpful way to engage in that debate.
I have a lot of moments like that that I think the table allows me to be myself and express. Whatever I'm saying, it's really a place where I feel like it's OK to evolve and to admit mistakes. I definitely take what they say to heart and appreciate it and look at things with a new eye thanks to our conversation.
Which issue sparks the most reaction either on the show or social media?
I get a lot of reaction to media bias, when I talk about the media and bias in Hollywood and how a lot of America watches an award show, for example, and doesn't want to feel like they're being preached at by Hollywood, which shares the same line of thinking all the time. When we speak about media bias, we have really good debate.
When I speak about health care I get a lot of reaction from people who have really been hurting with the cost of insurance. I get a lot of 'Thank you for bringing this up, my premiums went up and I couldn't keep my doctor and I couldn't keep my health insurance' and I think the reason is I'm critical of both sides. I'm critical of President Obama's Affordable Care Act that wound up not being very affordable to a lot of people and I'm critical of the new GOP plan that looks like a big government plan as well that's going to raise costs for a lot of older people and a lot of low income people.
How many of the social media comments do you pay attention to? Do you try to put it out of mind or do you engage?
I engage sometimes, it depends on my mood. If I'm feeling like I'm in a mood where I want to scan it and see what everyone's saying, I'll look and engaged with some. Occasionally I'll engage with a hater to make fun of it, because I think sometimes you have to laugh at some of the hateful things that get thrown at you. Sometimes I will respond to people who have shown appreciation for the fact that my voice is at the table, just to show some acknowledgment that there is interaction with fans of the show.
But there's also a time where I feel like I need to kind of shut it down and not be aware of what everyone's saying. It can get tricky, especially if it's a day where a lot of people are coming at me, it can get a little overwhelming, so I try to balance it.
Has reaction online towards you specifically changed at all post-Trump?
I have an interesting blend of people because I didn't vote for Trump and I'm not a Trump loyalist, so there are people who are Trump loyalists who get upset when I criticize Trump. Then there's people who, the second he does something positive that I feel I can support, everyone jumps on me for that. Because I don't toe a party line or have a strict allegiance to ay politician, I'm often in a position where I get hit from both sides.
It's fine with me because I'd rather be that independent thinker. I always tell people, look, I'm here to be an independent thinker and not to toe a party line or loyalty for a politician because I have principles, I'm here to give you my truth as I see it. That's an adjustment people are trying to figure out, 'What is she really?' I take some heat for that. I think as they get to know me more and more they're starting to see, 'OK she's not as predictable as we thought, but that's OK.'
I've noticed you get a lot of comments saying, 'We may not agree on everything, but love you on the show.' That's a great reaction and one you wouldn't necessarily expect.
I come from cable news where it's supposed to be combative and supposed to be, 'Here's the liberal and here's the conservative to duke it out' and that's not terribly helpful a lot of the time. I think the fact that this is a conversation and I come at it from an 'I hear what you're saying approach' and I'm genuinely interested in what people who disagree with me have to say and because I'm unpredictable, I think that lends itself to people having more of an open ear, because they're not saying 'She's just going to give me a republican talking point.'
Catch Jedediah Bila every weekday on ABC's "The View."