The 9 biggest bombshells about 'The View' from tell-all book 'Ladies Who Punch'
The onscreen drama on The View was nothing compared to what went down behind the scenes.
In Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View, a new tell-all by journalist Ramin Setoodeh, readers are granted insight into the alleged wild antics, personal beefs and show-stopping feuds that have encompassed the ABC morning show for more than 20 years.
Created by Barbara Walters and featuring a rotating group of co-hosts including Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Rosie O'Donnell and Jenny McCarthy, the show was no stranger to headlines for on-air blowout fights, but the majority of the drama apparently began when the cameras stopped rolling.
Everything from the hosts who almost were, to royal embarrassments, flushing tampons and more, keep reading for the nine biggest bombshells from the juicy book. Check out all the below quotes, which are taken directly from interviews published in Ladies Who Punch.
1. Jenny McCarthy once flushed a tampon at Barbara Walters' request
When McCarthy joined the series in 2013, she says that she was quickly unhappy for many reasons, but one interaction with Walters stood out among all else. According to McCarthy, the elder co-host stopped by her dressing room to complain about a tampon floating in the toilet. Even after McCarthy assured Walters that the tampon was not hers, she says Walters was still not pleased.
"She’s standing in the hallway where the guests are, yelling at me about a tampon. I don’t know. Maybe in her brain, she went, 'I’m going to the youngest, newest person here, because obviously she has her period and left a tampon floating,'" McCarthy claims. "This is Barbara Walters. I’m not going to yell at her. So finally I said, 'I’ll take care of it. I’ll take one for the team and I’ll flush it.'"
In addition to that incident, McCarthy claims that Walters frequently criticized her wardrobe.
"'We would all show up in the makeup room, Barbara would check out what I was wearing. If she didn’t agree with it, or it didn’t compliment her outfit, I had to change,'" McCarthy says, estimating that she changed outfits more than 50 times over seven months. "Mind you, she doesn’t look at anyone’s clothes but mine... I always had to go put on a sweater."
"She wanted to start dressing like me," McCarthy continues. "There were times when she’d say change, and she’d make people run out and get that dress in her size. I was a human Barbie doll."
"You know the movie Mommie Dearest? I remember as a child watching that movie and going, 'Holy cow!' I’ve never seen a woman yell like that before, until I worked with Barbara Walters," she adds.
According to McCarthy, Walters wasn't the only co-host with whom she didn't get along, adding that she also had issues with Whoopi Goldberg.
"To me, Whoopi had an addiction to controlling people’s thoughts, their words, the room, the table, your feeling, your mood," McCarthy says. "She had an addiction to controlling all of it and everybody."
All of those instances led McCarthy to have a "miserable" experience, where she was "going to work crying."
"Every day I went home and I was miserable," she says. "It really was the most miserable I’ve been on a job in my 25 years of show business."
2. The early days of The View 'felt like a college radio show'
Though Ladies Who Punch says that women, who made up around half of the staff, "were treated as equals," it claims that there was still inappropriate behavior behind the scenes.
"As daytime’s stepchild, the office vibe sometimes felt like a college radio show, especially on the days when Barbara wasn’t there," Setoodeh writes. "For years, a married man carried on a public affair with one of the female staff and nobody blinked. A writer liked to flash his c**k in the offices, as part of a running gag that made Joy [Behar] laugh."
Walters was, according to the book, not OK with the behavior, and reportedly chastised Debbie Matenopoulos, who co-hosted the series for the first two seasons, for her off-air behavior.
"After Debbie had gotten written up in Page Six for taking her top off at Hogs & Heifers, Barbara counseled her on not tarnishing her name as a public figure," the book claims. "It didn’t matter that most twenty-somethings in New York had ventured into the beer-soaked dive bar and done the same thing. Barbara was aghast that Debbie had disrobed in public."
"It was bad enough that [Debbie] roamed the halls at ABC in a bra, as if The View offices were a college sorority house," Setoodeh adds.
3. Star Jones once embarrassed Barbara Walters in front of Prince Andrew
Matenopoulos wasn't the only early co-host who allegedly upset Walters. The book claims that Star Jones, who sat at the table for the first nine seasons of the series, frequently got on Walter's bad side, pointing to an incident where Jones upstaged Walters in front of Prince Andrew.
According to Seetodah, the faux pas happened at an Upper East Side dinner party, when Walters went to introduce Jones to the Duke of York, only to have him bypass her to give Jones, whom he knew from his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, a hug and exclaim, "Star's favorite song is 'Thong Song.'"
"Not only was this unlady like, but Barbara had become the third wheel in a conversation with the royal family," Setoodeh writes.
"Barbara looked like she was going to die… She was mortified," Jones says in the book. "Maybe I didn’t appreciate boundaries enough: I’ll take responsibility for that. But I was having a good time. What I should have seen was, I penetrated her world in a way that she never would have. She’s Barbara Walters. She’s not going to have these conversations."
Jones' "larger-than-life" personality reportedly caused many conflicts during her tenure on the series. Jones says in the book that she "got too big for my britches. My ego started to take over, and I didn't know how to pull back."
This became evident during a week-long trip to Disney World when Jones, according to Setoodeh, "wanted to know why her hotel suite didn't overlook the ocean." Her publicist "had to gently explain to her that Orlando was surrounded by land in all directions."
Back in the New York studio, Jones' behavior was much the same, with the producers forbidden from making eye contact or speaking with her. One producer calls Jones "the nastiest" and claims that she "made a producer cry on her first day of work as a way of showing the woman who was boss."
According to the book, even a janitor for the show was put off by Jones, telling her co-host, Joy Behar, "that he'd just swept up the carcass of a crushed mouse from the floor of Star's dressing room," which he likened to an episode of Hoarders.
"Joy had grown to detest Star so much, she gleefully spread the story to some of her friends on the show," Setoodeh alleges.
4. The co-hosts 'resented' Star Jones for asking them to lie about her gastric bypass surgery
In the summer of 2003, Jones decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery, something she disclosed to Walters due to the "legal obligation" that came with having life-threatening surgery.
Despite telling Walters of the procedure, Jones refused to discuss it on-air, which her co-hosts apparently did not appreciate. "Behind the scenes, Barbara, Joy, and Meredith [Vieira] resented her for making them act as if she'd lost the weight on her own, which was forcing them to lie," Setoodeh claims.
For Jones, her co-hosts annoyance was upsetting. "I always felt it was our obligation to protect each other. And I don't think they did the same for me," Jones says.
Additionally, ahead of Jones' wedding to Al Reynolds in 2004, Setoodeh says Jones provided Walters and other View producers with an ultimatum: cover her wedding with recurring segments on the show -- which would allow Jones to receive free items -- or she'd take the coverage offer to a competing series.
"As the boss, Barbara could have vetoed this scheme. Yet the journalist inside her was terrified of losing an exclusive," the book claims.
The wedding planning segments went ahead, but, when it came time for the big day, many of the show's staff did not receive an invite to the nuptials.
"They were all outraged," the book claims of the uninvited producers who had helped to plan the wedding. "… At the eleventh hour, an email was sent out, telling some of them they could come to the church service, but not the party at the Waldorf Astoria."
5. Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck were friends before their infamous on-air fight
Before O'Donnell and Hasselbeck's huge, on-air argument about the Iraq War in 2007, they had "become such fast friends." So much so that co-host Joy Behar, according to the book, "speculated that Rosie must have a crush on Elisabeth."
Indeed, in Ladies Who Punch, O'Donnell admits to having a crush on Hasselbeck, though she didn't categorize it as sexual.
"I think there was underlying lesbian overtones on both parts," O'Donnell says in the book. "I think this is something that will hurt her if you write it. She was the MVP of a Division One softball team for two years that won the finals. There are not many, in my life, girls with such athletic talent on sports teams that are traditionally male that aren’t at least a little bit gay."
"There was a little bit of a crush," O'Donnell continues. "But not that I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to support, raise, elevate her, like she was the freshman star shortstop and I was the captain of the team."
But, Setoodeh writes, "When it became clear that Elisabeth didn’t want to be molded by Rosie, their friendship was irreparably damaged. Rosie and Elisabeth traded daily blows during the show’s Hot Topics debates."
6. Rosie O'Donnell says she was sexually abused by her father
One of the reasons O'Donnell doesn't classify her "crush" on Hasselbeck as sexual is because, she says, of alleged abuse by her father when she was a child.
"I was sexually abused by my father. I am not a person who has sex for fun. I have to know you. I have to love you. I have to work through a meditation to get to a place where I’m able," O'Donnell says. "I’ve had sex with eight people in my life."
Earlier in the book, O'Donnell expanded on her abuse allegations.
"It started very young. And then when my mother died, it sort of ended in a weird way, because then he was with these five children to take care of," O'Donnell claims. "On the whole, it’s not something I like to talk about. Of course, it changes everyone. Any child who is put in that position, especially by someone in the family, you feel completely powerless and stuck, because the person who you would tell is the person doing it."
7. Amid their feud, Donald Trump offered Rosie O'Donnell $2 million to appear on Celebrity Apprentice
After O'Donnell made on-air comments about Donald Trump's Miss USA pageant and hairstyle, the then-property mogul lashed out, appearing "on more than 20 programs with one goal in mind: to viciously attack Rosie."
"For years, Trump continued to wage his war with Rosie for his own benefit," Seetodeh writes. "He offered her $2 million to appear as a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice, which of course Rosie didn’t accept. He dragged her name into two presidential debates to avoid answering difficult questions about his own behavior toward women."
O'Donnell's on-going fight with Trump led her to become disappointed in Walters -- whom she felt "didn't do enough to protect her" -- and ended up resulting in a blowout fight between the two women.
"In a tirade, Rosie shouted insults at Walters. Rosie was furious that Barbara hadn’t reached out to her in the last ten days," Setoodeh claims of the 2007 argument. "… Rosie had initially decided that she wanted to be at The View to act as Barbara’s shield. Now she was tearing her down."
"Trump had forced the two women to turn on each other," the book continues. "… Some staff, in retelling the story, said it looked as if Rosie wanted to physically harm Barbara."
After the fight, Setoodeh claims O'Donnell began comparing Walters to "an elderly relative who needed help in the kitchen to make a delicious meal because she couldn’t do it on her own, while Walters would "bad-mouth Rosie in front of other employees when Rosie wasn’t there."
8. Rosie O'Donnell was advised by her doctor to leave the show after an on-air fight with Whoopi Goldberg
Coming into her role on The View, O'Donnell "revered" Goldberg, but the experience ended so poorly that O'Donnell considered working with her "the worst experience I've ever had on television."
"Whoopi Goldberg was as mean as anyone has ever been on television to me... Worse than Fox," she says. "... With Elisabeth Hasselbeck, I didn’t see her in a one-woman show that changed my life as an artist. But I did with Whoopi Goldberg, and I watched her make her way through a world, which is racist and sexist and homophobic, and succeed like only four women of color have in our age range."
After one on-air fight, Setoodeh says that O'Donnell was unable to calm down until she took an anti-anxiety pill. Another jab resulted in a call from O'Donnell's doctor.
"My doctor called me and said, ‘Come in right now. Your heart rate during that is dangerous for you. I don’t want you doing that show anymore,’" O'Donnell says. "But I could feel it. I felt it in the midst of fight or flight or freeze."
9. Gayle King almost became a co-host, but Barbara Walters was worried Oprah Winfrey would 'hijack' the show
Once O'Donnell left The View, Walters began searching for a replacement. The search largely came down to Gayle King and Whoopi Goldberg. Though King's connection to Oprah Winfrey was initially attractive to the show, it, coupled with Goldberg's better audience ratings, ended up being a large reason why she doesn't get the job, according to Setoodeh.
"Some of the producers of The View favored King because they believed she was the most like Meredith. They thought, with her background in news, she could introduce the show’s 'Hot Topics' with the right touch, seamlessly moving from series to silly stories," Setoodeh writes. "Everybody in daytime TV wanted to emulate Oprah. This would be as close as you could get."
"The thing that had made King famous -- her connection to Oprah -- also worked against her with The View," Setoodeh continues, alleging that "Barbara worried that Oprah might try to somehow hijack The View, leading to another ugly turf war."
For King, losing out on the job was disappointing.
"I was very interested. But that didn’t work out," she says of the gig. "I thought it would be fun because, listen, you get to give your opinion, which I love. I love pop culture. I love politics. I thought you get to do the two."