‘The View’: Barbara Walters Said There Was ‘So Much Bad Feeling’ When This Co-Host Was on the Show

Barbara Walters served as creator, executive producer, and co-host of the daytime talk show The View. Launching the program in 1997, Walters experienced her fair share of revolving co-hosts over the years. When the legendary journalist recruited a high-profile talk show alum to take on the role of moderator, The View quickly became a set riddled with turmoil.

'The View': (l-r) Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Joy Behar, Rosie O'Donnell, Debbie Matenopoulos, Barbara Walters, Sherri Shepherd, and Jenny McCarthy
‘The View’: (l-r) Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Joy Behar, Rosie O’Donnell, Debbie Matenopoulos, Barbara Walters, Sherri Shepherd, and Jenny McCarthy | Lou Rocco/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Barbara Walters hired Rosie O’Donnell to replace Meredith Vieira on ‘The View’

When longtime co-host Meredith Vieira announced she was leaving The View in 2006 to take over for Katie Couric on the Today Show, Walters decided to bring on Rosie O’Donnell to fill the moderator chair. She soon saw changes on set once O’Donnell joined the panel.

“She introduced a whole new and challenging chapter of the program,” Walters wrote in her memoir, Audition, of O’Donnell’s beginning on The View in Sept. 2006. “How to describe it? It was like a rollercoaster ride or a bumpy trip on a fast-moving bus. Rosie had originally said she wanted to ride the bus, not drive it. But this backseat role was simply not in her nature.”

Co-executive producer Bill Geddie and O’Donnell butted heads from the beginning, creating high levels of tension on the show.

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“Almost from her first weeks, Rosie had difficulty accepting Bill as the producer in charge of the program,” Walters explained. “She challenged his decisions. She didn’t want features on beauty or fashion or medical subjects, all of which had been popular on the show. In the months that followed, they had almost no relationship.”

Some of ‘The View’ staff distanced themselves from Rosie O’Donnell

O’Donnell was apparently alienating some staff members of The View due to her behavior, where Geddie even considered leaving the show. Issues began to arise with the program’s director and crew as well because of O’Donnell.

“At one point, Bill confided in me that he was not sure he wanted to continue on the program,” Walters recalled. “Rosie also had difficulty with Mark Gentile and some of the crew – the floor managers, the stagehands, and the audio engineers.”

Morale on The View set continued to decline, with some staffers choosing to boycott a traditional event if O’Donnell was going to be present.

“There was so much bad feeling that when The View had its annual Christmas party, many of the staff refused to attend until they learned that Rosie wouldn’t be able to come,” Walters commented. “These situations troubled me, but I hoped that in time they would clear up.”

Rosie O’Donnell left ‘The View’ after one season

Walters hoped that O’Donnell would become more of a collaborative player on The View, but to no avail.

“The premise of The View is that of a team working together, but for Rosie it was more like Diana Ross and the Supremes, as little by little she took over,” the news icon remarked. “Still, she was such a talent that we lived with it.”

O’Donnell’s infamous feud with Donald Trump became a major issue on the show, as well as her on-air battle with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. When her contract was up for renewal, O’Donnell decided to leave The View. Walters chose to focus on her former co-host’s positive attributes.

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“Rosie is, at heart, a remarkable and loving woman,” Walters noted. “However, I admit that along with the sadness I felt when Rosie left The View, I also acknowledge some relief. The rollercoaster ride was over. We would take a deep breath and start a new chapter of The View.”

O’Donnell was asked to reclaim her co-host seat on The View in September 2014, but quickly exited by February 2015.