By Michele Yeo
“I’ve always wanted to do a show with women of different generations, backgrounds, and views….And in a perfect world, I’d get to join the group whenever I wanted. This is that show. We call it The View.”
And with those words from broadcasting legend Barbara Walters, The View premiered on August 11th, 1997. The show is definitely one of the longest-running in daytime but its longevity hasn’t come without its fair share of headline-making fights, feuds, and fallouts. So with The View hitting the major milestone of 25 years on the air, we’re taking a look at, in no particular order, ten of its most controversial moments over the years.
Joy and Whoopi walk off set
Things got heated on The View when Fox News host Bill O’Reilly came to visit in 2010 to promote his latest book. The hosts were discussing plans to build a Muslim community centre near site of the former World Trade Centre towers and it wasn’t long before Bill “Fuck it, we’ll do it live” O’Reilly got real racisty declaring “Muslims killed us on 9/11.” The show then devolved into a heated shouting match with Whoopi declaring, “that is such bullshit,” before she and Joy stormed off the stage. Barbara Walters expressed immediate dismay at the walk off saying, ‘You have just seen what should not happen. We should be able to have discussions without washing our hands and screaming and walking off stage. I love my colleagues, but that should not have happened.” Bill O’Reilly was forced to walk off his own stage in 2017 after it came to light millions of dollars in hush money had been paid to women who accused him of sexual misconduct.
Barbara Walters defends Woody Allen
While it was most often her co-stars causing controversy, the den mother of The View came under scrutiny herself in 2014 when she sprang to the defence of her friend, controversial filmmaker and actor Woody Allen. The hosts were discussing an open letter published in the New York Times in which Woody Allen’s daughter, Dylan Farrow, repeated her longtime allegations that he sexually molested her as a child. Barbara came to the defence of the director, calling him a wonderful father to his two children with wife Soon-Yi saying, “I have rarely seen a father as sensitive, as loving and as caring as Woody is and Soon-Yi to these two girls. I don’t know about Dylan. I can only tell you what I have seen now.” The backlash on Twitter was as swift as it was severe. This is where we remind you that Woody Allen’s wife, Soon-Yi, was the adopted daughter of his former longtime partner Mia Farrow and that Woody became involved with her in 1991 when she was 21 and he was 56 and had known her since she was a small child.
Whoopi Goldberg defends Mel Gibson
Barbara Walters isn’t the only The View cast member who defends problematic men. In 2010, Oscar-winner Mel Gibson found himself at the centre of a massive controversy after tapes of him purportedly raging against and threatening his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva were released. The tapes not only featured him threatening to kill his partner, but using racist language, specifically the N word. This was the second time Mel was caught using racist language, the first being when he was arrested for impaired driving in 2006 and hurled anti-semetic comments. On a 2010 episode of The View, the Hot Topics section of the show the hosts discussed the new tapes with Joy Behar calling Mel Gibson an “anti-semite, a misogynist, and a racist.” Whoopi fired back at her co-host exclaiming, “I know Mel and I know he’s not a racist.” Joy wasn’t moved and Whoopi doubled down saying, “I have had a long friendship with Mel. You can say he’s being a bonehead, but I can’t sit and say that he’s a racist having spent time with him in my house with my kids.” I guess because Mel has a Black friend, he can’t possibly be a racist, right? Whoopi’s comments unsurprisingly did not go over well and the host was roasted online for her take. Whoopi has also come under scrutiny for her defence of Bill Cosby. Suffice to say, Whoopi needs new male friends.
Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck battle on-air
While some of the most headline-generating moments of The View have occured when the hosts are challenging guests (see: Anne Coulter and the aforementioned Bill O’Reilly fracas) other viral moments have happened when the hosts challenge each other. That was never more true than on Wednesday May 23rd, 2007 when hosts Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck threw down about the war in Iraq with Rosie against it (it would be proven years later the US invaded Iraq under false pretences but alas, that’s not the point of this piece) Things quickly got personal with Rosie accusing Elisabeth of not supporting her or defending from Republican attacks and Joy Behar pleading for her co-hosts to stop. In an effort to try and lighten things up, co-host Sherri Shepherd called out, “See? This is why I like watching Dancing With The Stars!” but it was too late for levity and the battle was underway. Despite both Sherri and Joy calling for producers to go to break, cameras continued to roll with the control room even doing a split screen at one point of the two women yelling at each other. After a pre-planned preemption on Thursday and Friday, the show returned live the following Monday without Rosie with Barbara Walters announcing the talk show legend had left the show with three weeks left in the season and would not be returning. Rosie eventually returned to The View in 2014 but left again in 2015.
Joy Behar did not miss Meghan McCain
When Meghan “My Father” McCain returned from a three-month maternity leave in early 2021, she clearly didn’t get the red carpet welcome she had anticipated. When Megs tried to be playful with co-host Joy Behar saying, “you missed me so much, you missed fighting with me,” she was met with a straight-faced deadpan Joy retorting, “I did not. I did not miss you.” The comments did not go over well and the panel quickly devolved into tension with moderator Whoopi Goldberg having to tell her fellow hosts, “everybody stop!” and Meghan expressing, “that’s so rude.” Meghan later quit the show saying her chilly reception from Joy played a big part in her decision to leave, telling The Commentary Magazine podcast, “I started hysterically crying…I went to my office and I vomited and I called my brother…and he said eff these people it’s not worth it, it’s no longer worth it and that was it. I didn’t feel supported when I had my baby and I didn’t feel supported coming back and that was ultimately it.”
Kelly Osbourne’s toilet comment
One of the more controversial statements on the show wasn’t even made by a regular host, it came from Kelly Osbourne who was guest hosting the show in 2015. During a discussion about presidential candidate Donald Trump and the many derogatory statements he’s made against Mexicans, Kelly piped up saying, “If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilet, Donald Trump?” A hush fell over the audience and the comment, unsurprisingly, did not go over well with co-host Rosie Perez with her chiming back, “Latinos are not the only people who do that.” Kelly immediately tried to clarify her statement saying, “I didn’t mean it like that,” but the damage was done. The former reality star reportedly burst into tears during the commercial break and was dragged online for her comments.
Star Jones quits on air
In 2006, after nine years as one of the original hosts of The View, Star Jones was informed by ABC executives that her contract was not going to be renewed for the show’s tenth season. Plans were in place for how to roll out the news and Star was expected to make her exit in July. But then in June, several days before the official announcement was to be made, Star went rogue. After the show’s first commercial break and as the hosts were heading into a second block of hot topics, Star interrupted Joy with the following, “after much prayer and counsel, I feel like this is the right time to tell you that the show is moving in another direction for its 10th season, and I will not be returning as co-host next year.” The move clearly caught her co-hosts, including Barbara Walters, off guard and they were stuck pretending like this was news to them. The next day, Star was erased from the opening credits and was noticeably absent when the hosts Barbara, Joy Behar, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck took to the stage. Barbara opened the show by saying, “and then there were three…” Barbara went on to explain that Star had been removed from the show effective immediately and would not be riding out the rest of the season saying, “we hoped that she would announce it here on the program and leave with dignity but Star made another choice and since her announcement yesterday she has made further announcements that have surprised us so it is becoming uncomfortable for us to pretend that everything is the same at this table and therefore, regrettably, Star will no longer be on this program.” The backstage battle fueled a tabloid firestorm and weeks of she said / she said drama.
In June of this year, to commemorate the show’s 25th anniversary, the show’s original hosts (minus Barbara Walters) Joy Behar, Meredith Viera, Debbie Matenopoulos, and yes, Star Jones, gathered to reminisce about the show’s origin and first season. Star didn’t express remorse about her abrupt exit saying, “the only thing I wanted to be able to do was walk out on my own terms so when I walked back in, it’d be on my own terms.”
Whoopi and Rosie row over racism
When Rosie O’Donnell returned to The View in 2014 after her abrupt exit in 2007, she shared the table with Whoopi Goldberg. The two butted heads several times during Rosie’s second short-lived stint, but one debate in December of 2014 when the panel, which included guest Laverne Cox, was debating racism in America after Michelle and Barack Obama revealed they had been mistaken for hired help on occasion. While Rosie said the United States can be a racist place, Whoopi shockingly took the opposing stance, saying many incidents that are labeled “racist” are merely examples of “ignorance.” Laverne Cox tried to explain the concept of implicit bias but Whoopi wasn’t having it. Soon, Whoopi and Rosie were raising their voices at each other while fellow host Nicolle Wallace claimed a racist country could never elect a Black man as president. The segment went to commercial break with a visibly frustrated Laverne Cox declaring, “I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree.”
Constant cast turnover
When a daytime talk show airs for a quarter of a century, there’s bound to be some turnover with the on-air hosts. After all, life happens, people move on to other projects, or simply outgrow the show. But The View has seen more turnover than most shows of its ilk. In its first 24 seasons, the show saw 22 hosts take to its stage and while some departures were amicable (like when Meredith Viera left to co-host The Today Show in 2006, not all farewells have been friendly. The aforementioned Star Jones exit was one of the uglier ones with Rosie O’Donnell’s departure also being contentious after her aforementioned on-air dust up with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Several former cast members have since revealed they did not enjoy their time, however limited, on the show. Candace Cameron said of her brief stint on the show, “I have PTSD,” telling the ABC Behind The Table podcast, “the stress and the anxiety…I actually have a pit in my stomach right now. There was only one type of stress that I’ve ever felt in my life, that came from that show.” Jenny McCarthy also spoke ill of her time on the show, telling Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live “that was hell.” Comedian Michelle Collins who served one season on the panel on the show’s 15th season told Us Weekly “the hazing was brutal.” Co-host Abby Huntsman who departed in 2020 later explained she had to leave for her own mental health, saying on her own podcast, “it was just an unbearable culture by the end.”
Julie Chen, former host of the rival daytime show The Talk went on Watch What Happens Live in 2016 and called The View, “a revolving door of hosts that people can’t keep straight. I mean, I should know all the names of the hosts but I don’t because it changes so often.” Of course, The Talk has been plagued by its own cast drama with Chen herself exiting the show in 2018 after her husband, former CBS CEO Les Moonves faced several accusations of sexual misconduct during the #MeToo movement. Several hosts have come and gone from The Talk since Chen’s departure including Sharon Osbourne who was fired in 2021 but the turnover is still a far cry from that of The View.
The View Exposé
Probably the most scandalous thing to happen to The View didn’t even happen on the show itself. It was within the pages of a damning tell-all released in 2019 called Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View. Based on more than 150 interviews with co-hosts, producers, crew members and others associated with the show, the book detailed stories of behind-the-scenes bombshells, backstage betrayals, constant conflicts, inflated egos, outrageous demands, temper tantrums, and an overall toxic environment. Needless to say, very few of the hosts came off well.