‘The View’: Rosie O’Donnell’s (sort of) mea culpa to Barbara Walters

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Rosie O’Donnell was on NBC’s ‘Today’ show this morning to promote ‘Rosie Live,’ her new variety show on the network. And what began as a straightforward interview between the comedian and ‘Today’ co-host Meredith Vieira ended up adding another twist in the seemingly endless saga between O’Donnell and her former friend/mentor/'View’ boss Barbara Walters.

To recap last week’s events: During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, O’Donnell said that Walters wants to pretend that all of the ‘View’ ladies get along. O’Donnell’s remarks -- in part, she said ‘there was not a lot of camaraderie off camera’ -- prompted an on-air response from Walters the next day. While Walters did not specify O’Donnell by name during the show’s Hot Topics segment, she called out ‘some people who have done this show and then for years feel like they have to dump on it maybe for their own publicity.’ She then addressed that person as a ‘lady,’ saying that it ‘hurts’ her and she ‘resents it.’ Later that day, O’Donnell created a video post on her blog entitled ‘Lady,’ which showed her watching Walters’ indictment of her.

Got that?

Which brings us to today on ‘Today.’ Vieira replayed the Walters segment. ‘Oh no, we have to watch it?’ O’Donnell said. She then said the words ‘publicity’ and ‘lady’ along with Walters on the tape.

In response to Vieira’s questions, O’Donnell said: ‘Every reporter has a question about ‘The View.’ Are the women really friends, do you hang out together? And I said, ‘You know, they don’t go to Chili’s after the show and have Buffalo wings and beer. I’m not saying they hate each other, but they’re not hanging out on the weekend.’'


She then struck a conciliatory tone. ‘The fact that I hurt her is what hurts me,’ O’Donnell continued. ‘Because, you know, when I was 14 years old, I watched the first woman ever at a presidential debate. She was the moderator between Carter and Ford. I remember it vividly. She talked to Sadat and Begin. She is one of the women who paved the way for every other woman on television in broadcasting. And I love her. Regardless of the fact that, to her, I’m the rowdy teenaged daughter she can’t control.’

Vieira, who was long the moderator of ‘The View’ herself before coming to ‘Today,’ said: ‘But you sort of are, right? When you make comments like that? Why not say nothin’ about ‘The View’?’

O’Donnell, who left ‘The View’ in spring 2007 under a cloud of resentment and hurt feelings, told Vieira that she still feels that the show set her up back then, when it went to a split screen during a fight between her and the conservative ‘View’ co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

She still thinks it was deliberate. And took a swipe at the show’s director, saying, ‘You know the director, Mark Gentile -- takes a long time to get a single of anything.’

Vieira exclaimed: ‘Rosie, there you go again!’

O’Donnell: ‘You think that was not planned?’

Vieira: ‘I wasn’t there then.’

O’Donnell: ‘Have they ever used a split screen before?’

Vieira: ‘I don’t believe they ever have.’

O’Donnell, sounding weary, said: ‘Or since.’

Vieira: ‘So you’re still angry about it.’

O’Donnell: ‘I’m not angry; I have feelings. I was there, and I do care about Barbara Walters.’

O’Donnell said that after the news of the conference call got out last week, she wrote Walters an e-mail.

(Now here’s the part that affects us specifically: O’Donnell said to Vieira: ‘I never called her a liar. The reporter from the L.A. Times used that word. I never said that word. It’s not in any interview that you ever read. I knew that word would hurt her.’

As you can see here in the original post, the L.A. Times, in fact, did not use the word ‘liar.’ However, a Google search reveals a Huffington Post headline, referring to our story, that says:

‘Rosie O’Donnell: Barbara Walters Lies, There Was No Camaraderie Off-Camera on ‘The View’’

The story now available on the Huffington Post, though, carries a slightly different headline and doesn’t use ‘lies’:

Rosie O’Donnell: Barbara Walters Exaggerates, There Was No Camaraderie Off-Camera on ‘The View’

We will be getting in touch with O’Donnell’s PR rep to clarify this point.)

Back to O’Donnell and Vieira. According to O’Donnell, the e-mail said: ‘I’m sorry that it keeps coming up like this. I do the best I can. Have a great turkey. Cindi [Berger, presumably, who is both O’Donnell’s and Walters’ PR person] was on the phone, she can get you the transcripts. I love you, Rosie.’

‘But I think there comes a point where she’s just had enough. And I think I’m hard to take for some people.’

Vieira asked, ‘So she never responded?’

‘She did on the air,’ O’Donnell said. ‘It’s OK. It’s all right. You can’t ever look at her life and career and have anything but respect for her. And I do love her.

Looking sad, O’Donnell added, ‘That’s the bottom line: Love is complicated.’

-- Kate Aurthur