"She had the talking points": Rosie O'Donnell claims "The View" favoritism for Elisabeth Hasselbeck

In an interview for Brooke Shields' podcast, O'Donnell detailed some of the behind-the-scenes mess on "The View"

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published April 18, 2023 5:24PM (EDT)

Rosie O'Donnell speaks onstage at the Showtime portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour on August 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images For Showtime)
Rosie O'Donnell speaks onstage at the Showtime portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour on August 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images For Showtime)

Rosie O'Donnell is opening up about her controversial run on "The View" along with her tumultuous relationship with conservative co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who O'Donnell alleged received special treatment from one of the show's top producers.

In Tuesday's episode of the "Now What? With Brooke Shields" podcast, O'Donnell — who served as the moderator on the daytime talk show from 2006 to 2007 — revealed that she was once close with Hasselbeck until their infamous on-air feud in 2007. Shortly afterward, O'Donnell left the show one month before she had been scheduled to leave. She later returned as a co-host on "The View" in 2014, only to announce five months later that she was exiting for good.

O'Donnell's recent comments come after rumors claimed she would consider returning to the show if current co-host and moderator Whoopi Goldberg agreed to step down. In a video posted on TikTok, O'Donnell said she had no plans to come back.

Here's a rundown of all the bombshell comments O'Donnell made about her time on "The View":

Hasselbeck supposedly was given special talking points

In conversation with Shields, O'Donnell said she went into the show with a "teamwork attitude," which was difficult to maintain when she learned about Hasselbeck's collaboration with the show's former executive producer Bill Geddie:


"Elisabeth Hasselbeck was on there, and Bill Geddie was the producer of an all-woman talk show and supposedly a woman's voice was a man, an old, cis, white man Republican who was against everything that I believed in and stood for. And he loved Elisabeth Hasselbeck and would go into her little dressing room and give her notes and talking points of the Republican press that they'd release daily," O'Donnell said. "She had the talking points."


"I was trying to get her to feel more than to fact, I'm like, 'But what do you feel about this?' I tried. Here's what I did. When I took the job, I said to myself, I'm going to love her no matter what. I took her to her first Broadway show, I took her kids to see the Nickelodeon shows with me and my kids, I had her to my house."

O'Donnell and Hasselbeck's ruined friendship

O'Donnell claims that she and Hasselbeck were once friends "in a civil kind of way." That all changed when Hasselbeck "kind of threw me under the bus," O'Donnell said about their bitter feud in the show's May 23, 2007 episode. 


"[I] was like, 'Are you f**king kidding me?' I finished the show, got my coat, walked out, and said I'm not going back, and I didn't, until a few years later when they asked me to come back and Whoopi [Goldberg] was on it and we clashed in ways that I was shocked by," O'Donnell added. She later returned to "The View" in 2014, following Geddie's exit that same year.

Goldberg refused to discuss Bill Cosby on the show

When asked by Shields if she thought she was made to be the villain in all of the show's drama, O'Donnell said, "in some ways I was, but it was all right." In general, she felt that the show steered away from more substantive topics in lieu of lighter fare or to avoid making some co-hosts uncomfortable.


"I had produced my own show. I was the solo boss, and here I was not having any power to make decisions. There would be the Rory Kennedy documentary about Abu Ghraib was out about the torture that we did as a country, how we sanctioned it," she continued. "And Bill Geddie wanted to do the new fall lipstick colors. And I'm like, 'We're not going to talk?'" 


O'Donnell added, "And then, you know, Bill Cosby was a big topic and I wanted to discuss Bill Cosby [and the rape allegations against him], and Whoopi did not."

O'Donnell's struggles with the show's argumentative agenda

Though O'Donnell was once dubbed "Queen of Nice" when she hosted her own syndicated daytime talk show, "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," she maintained that she was actually quite the opposite:


"It wasn't a horrible thing to be called, but I didn't think it was accurate," O'Donnell said. "I don't think anyone who ever saw my standup in my heyday would think that I was nice. I went after Woody Allen and I went after sexism . . . and I cursed. I was definitely not the 'Queen of Nice.'"


Nevertheless, she did believe "The View" constantly made her to remind the others to have a humane and respectful attitude.


"I know this, it's not the best use of my talent to get in a show where I have to argue and defend basic principles of humanity and kindness. It was not something I'd ever do again," she explained, adding that she remained on good terms with show creator Barbara Walters while she was both on and off the roundtable:  


"Barbara and I got along after, we went out to dinner, we knew each other way before I did that show, before she asked me to do it, and we remained friendly toward the end. I forgave her, because she was older and did the best that she could with what she had to work with, but it's nothing I'd want to do again, I can say that."

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Bill Geddie Elisabeth Hasselbeck List Media Rosie O'donnell The View Whoopi Goldberg