Absent from "The View" on May 6, Barbara Walters opted for "Oprah" to promote her new book "Audition." Inevitably the conversation included the tumultuous Rosie O’Donnell 2006-07 season. Barbara very carefully critiqued Rosie seeking to balance her criticisms with a compliments.
In describing Rosie’s sometimes obvious dominance, Barbara claimed Rosie "from day one took over the show" comparing Rosie to Diana Ross and the other co-hosts to the Supremes. Barbara also added Rosie "made some wonderful changes, but it was also very, very difficult."
Of course the famous on air fight between Rosie and Elisabeth Hasselbeck surfaced. The fight stemmed from those accusing Rosie of calling troops terrorists and Elisabeth refusing to defend Rosie. Barbara and Oprah agreed "she never said that." Although Rosie did not explicitly say "the troops are terrorists," her question "who are the terrorists?" certainly suggested it.
The conversation did not involve Rosie raising the possibility that 9-11 was in inside job and "fire can’t melt steel."
BARBARA WALTERS: Rosie had not been on television for three years. She had left because she said she wanted to spend more time with her family. And I knew that we had to have something big for the next year. I said to Rosie "would you ever think of coming back on television and doing ‘The View’?" And she said "yes." "What?" "Yes." Rosie said "I do not want to drive the bus I want to ride the bus." The problem was she had always driven the bus [scattered laughter] and she could not just ride the bus.
OPRAH WINFREY: Rosie is a bus driver.
WALTERS: And enormous talent, funny, warm-hearted, lovable. She also has emotional issues which she described in great detail on, on the program. She-we had a whole day which we discussed depression and she talked about what we did with all that. She had a lot of anger and rage and hurt. Her mother died when Rosie was barely 11. And Rosie I don’t think ever got over it. And in a lot of ways, Oprah, she began to think of me as her mother. That was both good and bad because if I didn’t do what she hoped I would do in certain cases. Then she felt I had abandoned her. Anyway, from day one she took over the show. You know, it was like Diana Ross and the Supremes. You know, here are the rest of "The View" behind her. She made some wonderful changes, but it was also very, very difficult.
WALTERS: Now this is going to sound silly to say, but I have always loved Rosie. I understand where the rage comes from. She is such a talent. She is such a warm-hearted truly loving and lovable person. There is this other side.
WALTERS: There came the day when there had been all of these discussions about Iraq. Rosie had said that in invading Iraq, the United States could be considered itself to be terrorists. People felt, many people felt, including some of our affiliates and sponsors, that she said the troops were terrorists. She never-
WINFREY: So she didn’t say that.
WALTERS: She never said that. But the discussion came up on the program. It was live. And she, because Elisabeth is the most conservative and because Elisabeth was for George Bush, Rosie said to Elisabeth "you should defend me. Why don’t you defend me?" Elisabeth said "you should defend yourself." And then there came the screaming match like you have never heard on television. So bad that I, I have never released it. I’ve never let anybody see it again. That’s how bad it was that day. But it was on every program the next day. I was home. I’m calling the control room saying "go to commercial! Go to commercial!" And Bill [Geddy]’s feeling was if we go to commercial Rosie would walk off stage. It was a terrible day. I’m sure that Rosie was miserable. I’m sure the Elisabeth was miserable. It was after that we had the Memorial Day weekend and Rosie, for her own reasons, decided not to come back. We e-mail each other. I will always have the greatest affection for her. I am not a Pollyanna. I truly mean this. She gave the show a whole boost. She brought energy to it. There are lots of things we did to the show that we would not have done. And when we had to replace Rosie we were fortunate and we felt we needed somebody also with the stature and, and, we had Whoopi.