Remembering the Infamous TV Feud between Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck
12 years ago, these two former “The View” co-hosts starred in one of the most famous on-air feuds in American TV history. While there seem to be more TV feuds now than ever, this one is the stuff of legend.
It is not for nothing that the shameful series of events that ended up with the exit of 57-year-old Rosie O’Donnell after just one year in the ABC morning talk show was later remembered as the shows “doomsday.”
Just as it happens in the Trump era, the media back in the Bush years was radically divided between the left and the right, especially when it came to the issue of the Iraq War.
It was this very issue what took things to a point of no return in May 2007 between the 17th and the 23rd, when O’Donnell and 42-year-old Elizabeth Hasselbeck finally exploded against each other.
It all started with a commentary by O’Donnell, a fierce liberal, about the death of more than 600.000 Iraqi civilians because of the US (and its allies’) war against the government of Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
“I just want to say something — 655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?” asked O’Donnell during the May 17 “Hot Topics” segment of “The View,” shocking her co-hosts and bringing public backlash to the comedian.
ROSIE EXPECTED HER FRIEND TO SUPPORT HER
As “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View’,” published on April 2019, recalls, O’Donnell had expected Hasselbeck to support her despite their opposing political views, but Hasselbeck wasn’t willing to defend someone calling the US troops “terrorists”
Needlessly to say, this didn’t make O’Donnell happy at all, and with this tension she and Hasselbeck took their seats for the “Hot Topics” discussion a week after O’Donnell’s controversial remark, heading toward a full confrontation.
DISAGREEMENT OVER PRESIDENT BUSH
On this occasion, the show’s veteran co-host 76-year-old Joy Behar brought up the subject of President George W. Bush to call him “the worst president that we’ve ever had in the history of this country,” putting Republican Hasselbeck on guard.
As Behar listed what she saw as Bush’s great mistakes and wrongdoings during his administration, Hasselbeck entered into an argument with her, and this gave O’Donnell the perfect opportunity to become involved.
Infuriated with Hasselbeck’s defense of the presence of US troops in Iraq, O’Donnell asked Hasselbeck if the Iraqi people had in fact attacked the US.
Since it was clear that any of the two was ready to have a cold-headed conversation on the subject, Behar tried her best to try to get them to talk like civilized people, to no avail.
THINGS GO REALLY BAD
“Do you know why I don’t want to do this, Joy?” O'Donnell’s said to Behar. “Let me tell you why. Here’s how it gets spun in the media: big, fat, lesbian, loud Rosie attacks innocent, pure, Christian Elisabeth, and I’m not doing it.”
Suddenly, things had gotten way too personal in the studio, and both O’Donnell and Hasselbeck went on to ventilate their issues in front of the cameras.
The cherry on top of the confrontation came when O’Donnell noticed that the show’s director Mark Gentile used a split-screen to show the faces of her and Hasselbeck at the same time instead of keeping cutting back and forth.
To O’Donnell, this was a way for the showrunners to make fun of her for the sakes of ratings, considering that the split-screen had never been featured in the “Hot Topics” segment prior to that.
“I’m not going to fight with you anymore, because it’s absurd. So for three weeks, you can say all the Republican crap that you want,” an outraged O’Donnell shout at one point.
“It’s much easier to fight someone like Donald Trump, isn’t it? Because he’s obnoxious,” Hasselbeck said mockingly.
Finally, the two returned to the issue of Hasselbeck not defending O’Donnell’s comment about the Iraq War, with the latter accusing the former of being a coward. Then, after what seemed to be an eternity, they cut to commercials.
“I didn’t enjoy it. I thought people were complicit in making it go on and on. And then the director put up a split-screen, which made Rosie very angry,” Behar says in the book.
“Ladies Who Punch” reveals that there were other long-lasting feuds among the co-hosts back in the day.
According to Daily Beast, 63-year-old Whoopie Goldberg, who co-hosted with O’Donnell on the latter’s second try at the show in 2014-15, hated O’Donnell so much that she “threw a fit when she saw that the book’s cover has the two of them on it together.”
“THE VIEW” TODAY
Behar, who was part of “The View” since the start, is the only co-hosts from the 2007 infamous episode that is still working on the show.
Despite Walters’ fears about the fate of “The View” after her departure, the show is still popular and successful. And while many things have changed, the feuds between its co-hosts over political issues keep happening.
Nowadays it’s 34-year-old Meghan McCain the representative of political conservatism in the program, frequently clashing in public with both Behar and Goldberg.
Recently, O’Donnell commented on the current feud between Behar and McCain, and while she has proven to have learned one or two things over the years and says to understand McCain’s difficult position, she wished the wasn’t “mean” to Behar “for no other reason than she’s the elder statesman in the room.”