Jenny McCarthy Says She Used to Hide From This "The View" Co-Host
"I was going to work crying."
Jenny McCarthy was a co-host of The View from 2013 to 2014. And since her year on the show, she's made it clear that she didn't enjoy working there and had issues with some of her co-stars behind the scenes. McCarthy has said that she clashed the most with show creator and original host, Barbara Walters. In fact, their relationship was so strained that McCarthy used to hide to avoid running into her in the studio. To find out what the Masked Singer panelist remembers about working with Walters and why they didn't get along, read on.
McCarthy and Walters immediately got off on the wrong foot.
In Ramin Setoodeh's 2019 book, Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View (via Vulture), McCarthy discussed her first guest appearance on The View in 2007. She was promoting her book, Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism, in which she claims that a special diet, cod liver oil, and vitamins were effective treatments for her son's autism spectrum disorder. She also famously posits that his condition was caused by the measles vaccination. McCarthy's platform helped to raise the profile of the "anti-vax" movement, especially among mothers. The theory that vaccines cause autism has been debunked by many experts; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirm that there is "no link between receiving vaccines and developing [autism spectrum disorder]."
According to McCarthy, her issues with Walters began before the taping started. "I walked into her dressing room and she blew up at me," McCarthy said to Setoodeh. She claimed that Walters called her a "liar" and accused her of saying that autism could be "cured." McCarthy told Walters that she never used the word "cured" in her book.
McCarthy also claimed that Walters didn't want her to be announced and then walk on stage, because the audience would applaud for her. So they started the interview with McCarthy already seated. Despite what happened beforehand, the interview went smoothly.
The tension continued when McCarthy joined the panel.
McCarthy was a guest on The View again in 2012 to talk about her memoir, Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic. She explained to Setoodeh that her second interaction with Walters at the show was nothing like the first. "She came to my dressing room and quoted dirty stories from [my memoir], asked me to autograph it for her, and she had no recollection that I had been there before," McCarthy said.
Then-producer Bill Geddie invited McCarthy to audition for a permanent spot on The View the following year. While she was waiting to hear back, CBS offered McCarthy her own daytime show. McCarthy told Geddie that she wanted to accept the CBS deal, so he hired her.
McCarthy's co-hosts were Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd, and Walters. She claimed that Walters had a temper and a tendency to yell at her coworkers, especially McCarthy. Walters would police her wardrobe, McCarthy said. "Barbara would check out what I was wearing," she explained. "If she didn't agree with it, or it didn't complement her outfit, I had to change."
She also claimed, however, that there were times when Walters tried to dress like her. Once, McCarthy recalled having to change out of a dress she was wearing so an assistant could get it for Walters instead.
McCarthy felt that Walters singled her out and was harder on her than anyone else. So she started to avoid her at work.
"When I'd hear the shuffle of her feet, I knew that Barbara was after me," McCarthy said. "Based on the speed of the shuffle, I would hide or get on the phone."
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McCarthy had a "miserable" time on the show.
In Ladies Who Punch, McCarthy noted that Geddie hired her because he wanted to steer away from politics. He told her that they wanted "pop culture, irreverent, fun, sassy." The pivot didn't work, however. Lisa Hackner, an ABC executive, revealed that The View lost 30% of their viewership after the 2013 departure of Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who was more eager to discuss politics than McCarthy.
McCarthy claimed that producers wanted her to share opinions that were counter to Goldberg's, in order to create more conflict and boost ratings. "I was going to work crying," she said. "I couldn't be myself. My fans were telling me, 'Where's Jenny? They aren't letting you be you.'"
She felt that the job wasn't the right fit for her and had regrets about taking it. "Every day I went home and I was miserable," she told Setoodeh. "It really was the most miserable I've been on a job in my 25 years of show business. I kicked myself for not taking the CBS job, of course."
McCarthy has said that there were "no hard feelings," however.
Despite their backstage drama, McCarthy has said that she has a lot of respect for Walters.
Back in May 2013, Walters announced that she would be signing off of The View at the end of the season. McCarthy claimed to Setoodeh that Walters once told her backstage that she didn't actually want to leave the show. And McCarthy empathized with her.
"I had zero hard feelings," she said. "I loved her like a grandma."
Walters officially retired in 2014, after more than 50 years on television.
Walters has been honored by her other co-hosts over the years.
While McCarthy butted heads with Walters, other co-hosts have sung her praises. During an appearance on Radio Andy in 2019, Shepherd, who hosted The View from 2007 to 2014, said that while Walters had high expectations for her, working with the broadcasting legend was one of the highlights of her career.
"I found my voice with Barbara Walters," she explained. "She was hard on me and the day she left, when she retired or got let go, she put her hand on my face and she said, 'I'm the most proud of you because you grew. You asked the questions. You were curious. You went to the plays, you read the books. And I've seen your evolution and I love you, dear.'..She was a mentor to the end to me."
Many of Walters' other co-hosts reminisced about their time working with her during her final episode. Meredith Vieira, who was on the show from 1997 to 2006, said that she loved that people got to see a different side of Walters on The View. "Because you all know the journalist, but she's such a funny lady and full of spunk," Vieira said, per The Hollywood Reporter. Hasselbeck also stepped in and thanked Walters for helping her "be prepared for the unprepared."
And though it's been years since she hosted, Walters is still acknowledged as a part of the show. In 2019, The View took a moment to acknowledge the journalist's 90th birthday. Goldberg paid tribute to Walters as "the reason we are all sitting around this Hot Topics table today."