‘The View’: Why Barbara Walters ‘Often Cringed’ During These Panel Conversations
Barbara Walters launched the daytime talk show The View in 1997. Recruiting Meredith Vieira, Joy Behar, Star Jones, and Debbie Matenopoulos as panelists, Walters also took a seat at the table in addition to her role as co-creator. With the co-hosts delving into a myriad of topics each weekday, Walters found herself feeling a bit awkward at times due to the direction of the conversation.
‘The View’ covered many topics during table talk
In her memoir Audition, Walters recalled the early weeks of The View, where the five panelists found plenty of topics to cover.
“Our first few weeks went surprisingly well,” Walters wrote. “We five women would then… arrive in the large makeup room at 9 a.m., a full two hours before the program goes on the air live. We then receive a sheaf of papers from a researcher, with the news stories of the day. Talking and laughing, we decide which subjects we want to tackle.”
Walters revealed that they would get a lot of mileage out of one topic in particular, with two of her co-hosts sometimes getting a bit carried away.
“We loved stories that concerned sex,” Walters said. “Surefire winners. I often cringed because I thought they went too far, but Meredith and Joy both had raunchy senses of humor, so vaginas and penises became part of our almost daily vocabulary.”
Barbara Walters considered herself the ‘panel prude’ on ‘The View’
The legendary journalist often tried to reign in discussions that would get out of hand, and didn’t mind being considered the puritan of the group.
“I sometimes said, ‘Enough with the penises,'” Walters explained. “But the conversations were lively and just shocking enough. Besides, I rather liked my position as the panel prude.”
Walters relished when talk would take a heated turn while they discussed topics before the show, aware that on-air disputes could bring in ratings.
“If it starts a discussion or better still, an argument, we know we are onto something, but we are careful not to leave the argument in the dressing room,” The View star wrote. “We save it for the broadcast so we can let the chips fall where they may.”
‘The View’ moderator Meredith Vieira ‘could get away with almost anything’
Singling out Behar and Vieira with their more boisterous exchanges, Walters noted how Vieira was the most brazen of the bunch.
“At first, she came across as just another pretty lady,” Walters remarked of Vieira. “In time, though, the audiences came to realize that she was probably the most outrageous of all of us. One day she would tell us that she didn’t wear underwear, the next day she would tease about her three children and tell stories about her cat who peed all over the house.”
Though she had a strong comedic bent, Vieira possessed some impressive journalistic credentials to her name as well as a health issue on the home front that she sometimes discussed.
“Meredith could get away with almost anything,” Walters commented. “But she also had her serious side. Her husband, Richard, has multiple sclerosis and had colon cancer. Meredith talked of this from time to time, although never in a maudlin way.”
The news icon saw the early days of The View as a bonding experience for the original panelists.
“We all talked about personal aspects of our lives,” Walters wrote. “We were a kind of family sharing our good times and bad.”