These "The View" Hosts Had a Dressing Room Fight Producers Still Talk About
"I can’t tell you everything she said, but it was nasty."
Over the last two decades, The View has made headlines for drama among the hosts, both onscreen and behind the scenes. In one instance, two stars of the show had a backstage showdown that was so intense, producers of the show still talk about it today. Read on to find out what led to Rosie O'Donnell and Barbara Walters having a blowout fight in the dressing room of The View, and where their relationship stands now.
O'Donnell slammed Donald Trump during a 2006 episode.
In Ramin Setoodeh's 2019 book, Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View (via Vanity Fair), O'Donnell spoke about a 2006 taping, during which she talked about Donald Trump's handling of a pageant scandal. Tara Conner, the reigning Miss USA, had been caught using drugs and drinking underage. As co-owner of the Miss Universe organization (which includes Miss USA and Miss Teen USA), Trump hosted a press conference announcing that he had decided to let Conner keep her title if she went into rehab. Conner, who hadn't known before the press conference what he was going to say, wept with relief.
This angered O'Donnell, who said that she thought Trump was using Conner's struggles to gain publicity for himself and to cast himself as a benevolent leader. "So Donald Trump is in the news again. Because his show The Apprentice is starting again in January, he held a big press conference to see if he was going to allow Miss U.S.A.—such a prestigious title," O'Donnell said on The View the next day.
O'Donnell went on to criticize Trump's personal life, while mimicking him. "Listen, this guy annoys me on a multitude of levels," she said. "He's the moral authority? Left the first wife, had an affair. Left the second wife, had an affair." When he was married to his first wife, Ivana Trump, he cheated on her with Marla Maples, who became his second wife. "Had kids both times," she continued. "But he's the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America?"
The co-host also went after Trump as a businessman, saying that he was only successful because he "inherited a lot of money" and been "bankrupt so many times."
O'Donnell also made it clear that she expected Trump to retaliate. "Here comes a lawsuit," she said on the air. "He's going to sue me, but he'll be bankrupt by that time, so I won't have to worry."
Walters attempted to smooth things over with Trump.
Right after the taping was over, producer Bill Geddie received a phone call from Trump. He said that Trump was angry specifically about O'Donnell's comments about his finances. "I have never filed for bankruptcy!" the future president said, according to Geddie. While it's true that Trump has never personally filed for bankruptcy, several of his businesses have gone bankrupt and shut down over the years. While Geddie apologized, telling Trump that O'Donnell's ribbing was "all done in good fun," Trump told him that he'd be speaking to his lawyers about suing the program.
Walters, who was on vacation with Judy Sheindlin (a.k.a. Judge Judy) when the episode in question aired, was concerned about a lawsuit and asked Geddie to arrange a three-way call with Trump. (Geddie said that Walters and Trump were "good friends" at the time.) There are differing accounts of how Walters spoke about O'Donnell on the phone, but per Ladies Who Punch, she did tell Trump that The View would make a statement clarifying his financial history when she was back at work.
This didn't stop Trump from firing back publicly at O'Donnell, however. Trump spoke about her to several media outlets, including People, calling her "a real loser." Other insults elsewhere included "unattractive" and "stupid." Their feud has continued for years.
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Walters made a statement on the show when she came back from vacation.
During a January 2007 taping of the show (via Today), Walters made a statement clarifying the bankruptcy comments.
"ABC has asked me to say this just to clarify things, and I will quote: 'Donald Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy," she said. "Several of his casino companies have filed for business bankruptcies. They are out of bankruptcy now.'"
She added that, despite what Trump claimed, she had never said anything derogatory about O'Donnell to him and that she was staying neutral in the situation. She specifically addressed Trump's claim to the Associated Press that she didn't want O'Donnell on The View at all, saying that it wasn't true. "She has brought a new vitality to this show and the ratings prove it," Walters said of her colleague.
But O'Donnell still felt "betrayed" by Walters talking to Trump "behind [her] back."
O'Donnell, who had been on vacation during that taping, was angry with Walters. When she returned, the tension between them came to a head in a dressing room fight.
Geddie explained to Setoodeh that Walters wasn't someone who liked "big confrontation…And certainly not a confrontation in a room full of senior and junior staff." But O'Donnell wanted to have it out with her right there behind the scenes.
"I definitely yelled," O'Donnell admitted to Setoodeh. "I said how disappointed I was and how shocked and hurt I was that she wouldn't stand up for me. I felt very betrayed about her going behind my back and speaking to Donald Trump in Trumpian language."
"I can't tell you everything [O'Donnell] said, but it was nasty," Geddie recalled. "And she does it for about 40 seconds, maybe a minute."
O'Donnell has expressed regret about getting personal in her fight with Walters, specifically for speaking about her family.
"I said something about her daughter, which I should not have said. But I did," she explained in the book. She had told The View creator that it was "no wonder" that Walter's daughter, Jacqueline Guber, "couldn't stand [her]." Walters told O'Donnell not to talk about her.
Geddie eventually put a stop to the argument, telling O'Donnell that she couldn't "talk to [Walters] anymore like this." Walters wasn't pleased with how long he took to break up the fight, however.
He noted that he was "shocked by" O'Donnell's behavior. "You don't scream at older ladies like that, regardless of who they are, and you certainly don't scream at Barbara Walters, the person who hired you," he said.
"Producers still talk about the dressing room fight as if they were watching a volcano erupt," Setoodeh wrote in his book.
O'Donnell respects Walters, though they're not really friends today.
Despite the backstage drama, Walters and O'Donnell continued to work together. Two days later, O'Donnell said on the air that Trump was "at it again," still publicly insulting her. Walters called him "a poor pathetic man" in response.
The only period during which the two co-hosts overlapped on the show ended in 2007 with O'Donnell's departure; when O'Donnell returned in 2014, Walters had already retired.
Yet, O'Donnell still feels some guilt for her comments during their fight. Appearing on the podcast Hot Takes and Deep Dives this March, O'Donnell confessed that she said things to Walters that were "none of [her] business." She continued, "Things that were way too personal to bring up, and I brought them up, and I felt regretful since."
Although O'Donnell said that they're still in a "rocky place," she still admires Walters. "She's up there now, and she deserves respect, and she deserves to be honored for all that her work has been," she explained.