‘The View’: Why Debbie Matenopoulos Felt ‘Vindication and Validation’ Years After Being Fired From the Show

Debbie Matenopoulos first hit the airwaves when Barbara Walters hired her as a panelist for The View in 1997. Sitting alongside Walters, Meredith Vieira, Joy Behar, and Star Jones, Matenopoulos became the first casualty of the daytime talk show and was given her walking papers in 1999. The View alum recently revealed what helped her healing process years after her ousting.

Debbie Matenopoulos of 'The View'
Debbie Matenopoulos of ‘The View’ | Lou Rocco/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Debbie Matenopoulos was 22 years old when ‘The View’ premiered

Matenopoulos was a 22-year-old production assistant at MTV when Walters recruited her for The View. In retrospect, the former daytime talk show host felt she may have been too young for the high-profile gig.

“I was so scared, so young, and so in over my head,”  she told Ramin Setoodah in his book Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View. “I was a kid – I had no clue. How are you going to have an opinion if you haven’t lived it? I didn’t have the experience like the rest of them had.”

The View alum revealed that the network had her attend coaching sessions, which she found to be of little help and would have preferred direct communication.

“They sent me to a coach to learn how to do things on television – blah, blah, blah,” Matenopoulos said. “That was a waste of money. In hindsight, they needed to sit me down and go, ‘Here’s the deal: you’re too nervous.’”

RELATED: ‘The View:’ Meredith Vieira Cried When The Co-Host She Considered Her ‘Kid Sister’ Was Fired

‘The View’ alum felt she squandered the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’

Matenopoulos was fired from The View in 1999 and recalled being told she would no longer be a part of the show.

“I remember sitting there and all the blood rushing out of my head,” Matenopoulos shared with Setoodah upon being fired. “I screwed this up so bad. All I wanted to do was be good for them. Of course I cried. I was so sad. These people were my friends. Here’s the opportunity of a lifetime, and I blew it.”

Lisa Ling was eventually hired in 1999 to replace Matenopoulos, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck took over Ling’s seat in 2003.

“I love Lisa [Ling] and I love Elisabeth [Hasselbeck],” Matenopoulos recently told Allison Kugel on the Allison Interviews podcast. “I love both of them.  It wasn’t their fault they got my job. They got the job because there was a spot. They wanted to hire someone different than me, so they hired Lisa.”

Debbie Matenopoulos sees herself as the ‘original Survivor’

Ling ended up being fired from The View in 2002, and Hasselbeck was let go in 2013. While Matenopoulos took no pleasure in seeing the two panelists lose their jobs, over time she realized that her own termination wasn’t such a rarity for The View.

“It didn’t work out for [Ling] either after two years,” Matenopoulos explained. “Then they hired Elisabeth and it didn’t work out for her. … Something about that was really healing for me. It was sort of a validation and vindication that, ‘Wait, it wasn’t me. It wasn’t me at all.’  For a minute you think it’s you and your like, ‘Gosh, what have I done? I messed this whole thing up.’”

Matenopoulos was the first in a long line of co-hosts who lost their seat at The View table, including Rosie O’Donnell, Jenny McCarthy, Sherri Shepherd, and Nicolle Wallace. The Home & Family star referenced a popular reality show as an example for how her termination was the start of the revolving chair on the panel.

“I would say I was just the first to be voted off the island,” Matenopoulos remarked. “I was the original Survivor.”

RELATED: ‘The View:’ Former Exec Producer Bill Geddie Said He Tried ‘Not To Cry’ When He Had To Fire Two Co-Hosts