Barbara Walters was a legendary journalist. She was the first female co-host of the Today Show and the first female anchor of a network evening news program. She interviewed celebrities and presidents, capturing some of the most captivating conversations in television history. Walters recently passed away at the age of 93.
Walters also broke barriers when she created The View, a daytime talk show where women spoke about various issues. Rosie O’Donnell would join the panel of hosts starting in the fall of 2006. However, her time on the show would be marked by controversy and feuds.
It was this reputation that would drive a wedge between her and Walters.
Rosie O’Donnell Slams Donald Trump Live On ‘The View’
Donald Trump was co-owner of the Miss Universe organization and felt the need to respond after a scandal broke. That scandal involved then-Miss USA Tara Conner, who was caught using drugs and drinking underage. Her behavior led to a public apology and a press conference, in which Trump said she could keep her title if she went to rehab.
This didn’t go over well with O’Donnell, who spoke about it on The View. She said that she thought Trump was just trying to get positive publicity for himself by using the controversy associated with Conner.
“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,” she said during the show.
O’Donnell went on to mention his previous marriages and criticize his personal life.
“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.” she continued. “Had kids both times. But he’s the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America?”
O’Donnell didn’t stop there. She proceeded to talk about Trump as a businessman. She said that Trump “inherited a lot of money” and that was the only reason for his success. O’Donnell then said that he had been “bankrupt so many times.”
Donald Trump Threatens To Sue ‘The View’ Over Rosie O’Donnell’s Remarks
As O’Donnell was wrapping up her rant about Trump, she said that she expected him to fight back.
“Here comes a lawsuit,” she said. “He’s going to sue me, but he’ll be bankrupt by that time, so I won’t have to worry.”
Apparently, O’Donnell’s prediction wasn’t too far off. According to Ramin Setoodeh’s book, “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View,” the show’s producer Bill Geddie received a phone call from Trump. Trump was particularly upset over O’Donnell’s comments about his finances.
“I have never filed for bankruptcy!” he reportedly said.
Although Geddie apologized to Trump, saying that O’Donnell’s comments were “all done in good fun,” he wasn’t having it and threatened to sue the program.
At the time, Walters was on vacation and was concerned about a lawsuit. She asked Geddie, who claimed Walters was friends with Trump at the time, to arrange a three-way call with him. During the call, Walters promised Trump that she would read a statement clarifying things when she returned.
“ABC has asked me to say this just to clarify things, and I will quote: ‘Donald Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy,” Walters said on the air. “Several of his casino companies have filed for business bankruptcies. They are out of bankruptcy now.'”
Walters then said that she never spoke ill of O’Donnell while on the phone with Trump. She also said that she wanted to remain neutral in the situation and that any reports of Walters wanting O’Donnell off the show wasn’t true.
Trump, meanwhile, was insulting O’Donnell in the press, saying that she was “a real loser,” “unattractive,” and “stupid.”
Barbara Walters And Rosie O’Donnell Get Into A Fight Backstage
O’Donnell was on vacation when Walters made her statement. O’Donnell would later say that she was hurt by Walters’ decision to speak to Trump behind her back. She also took issue with Walters’ statement on air, feeling that she didn’t stick up for her.
This led to O’Donnell confronting Walters about the situation backstage before an episode. Geddie said that Walters didn’t like “big confrontation…And certainly not a confrontation in a room full of senior and junior staff.”
“I can’t tell you everything [O’Donnell] said, but it was nasty,” Geddie claimed. “And she does it for about 40 seconds, maybe a minute.”
O’Donnell said that she regretted how she spoke to Walters, revealing that she got personal during the argument.
“I said something about her daughter, which I should not have said. But I did,” she said. She told Walters it was “no wonder” that her daughter, Jacqueline Guber. “couldn’t stand [her].” Walters told O’Donnell not to bring her up.
Geddie eventually stopped the fight, telling O’Donnell that she couldn’t talk to Walters that way anymore. Walters, however, wasn’t happy with how long it took for him to stop the fight. Walters reportedly threatened to quit the show if O’Donnell was re-signed. O’Donnell’s departure from the show was later announced following an on-air fight with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Walters and O’Donnell continued to work together. Walters even called Trump “a poor pathetic man” when he continued to insult O’Donnell in the media.
O’Donnell would later praise Walters when speaking to Jess Rothschild on the podcast Hot Takes and Deep Dives, saying, “She’s up there now, and she deserves respect, and she deserves to be honored for all that her work has been.”
After Walters’ death, O’Donnell took to Instagram to pay tribute. She posted a photo of the two together with the caption “legend.” She also posted a video talking about the “barriers” Walters broke and the good times they had watching Broadway shows together.