Morning TV's Most Notorious Scandals

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It's inevitable: Every week, some scandal (miniature or not-so) inevitably erupts on "The View," and while the flavor of the week may seem like a pretty big deal, it's not so far out of the ordinary. Of course, "The View" is not unique to this phenomenon. Morning television has actually been plagued by scandals over the last few decades, and these controversies have truly run the gamut. Whether it's been reports of behind-the-scenes friction between co-stars or allegations of sexual harassment (and sometimes even worse), television morning shows have been embroiled in scandal on numerous occasions.

Sometimes, this can create something of a disconnect for viewers, who've become familiar with the same friendly, affable faces greeting them from their television screens each morning — only to then read about the alleged bad behavior of those same people in the tabloids.

In fact, it's not unfair to observe that morning shows and scandals have gone hand in hand for years. From backstabbing memos to on-air fights, here are some of the very worst.

Did Matt Lauer destroy Ann Curry's career?

On June 28, 2012, Ann Curry bid a tearful goodbye to the "Today" show after co-anchoring the morning news program for barely a year. Curry's awkward on-camera exit capped off a disastrous year of behind-the-scenes drama at "Today," all of which was captured in a shocking 2013 cover story by New York Magazine. The piece seemingly put some of the blame for Curry's demise on her co-anchor, Matt Lauer, who reportedly did not like Curry and failed to protect her during contract renegotiations. Their tense relationship played out disastrously on camera, both during Curry's farewell speech and when the two reunited for a segment at the Olympic Games in London.

Curry reflected on her ouster in a 2020 interview with Elle. "I still don't really understand. I know I did nothing wrong. I know I was good at my job," Curry told the magazine. She also admitted that, after all those years, the pain continued to linger. "The bottom line is that it still hurts," she added. "It honestly hurts really deeply, because I really think I did nothing wrong."

Whether directly related to the scandal or not, the "Today" show's ratings quickly began to erode, and by August 2012, the show's primary rival, "Good Morning America," topped NBC's juggernaut morning program in the ratings for the first time in about 17 years, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Today has been playing catch-up ever since.

NBC stars 'banded together' against a producer

Just when you thought things couldn't get worse at "Today," word got out in November 2014 that newly hired producer Jamie Horowitz had been fired after just 78 days on the job. Horowitz's termination was reportedly based around his intention to overhaul the show's personality lineup. The exact details of his plan conflict based on various reports. The Wrap said Horowitz wanted to fire Savannah Guthrie, Natalie Morales, and Willie Geist; The Hollywood Reporter said he intended to bring in Josh Elliott, formerly of "Good Morning America," bump Hoda Kotb to an earlier hour and, believe it or not, remove Al Roker from his weather reporting.

Whatever the case, Horowitz's behind-the-scenes orchestrating didn't fly with "Today" show staffers or the network. CNN later reported that Guthrie, Morales, Matt Lauer, and others "banded together" against Horowitz, who was reportedly hired to fix the show's flailing ratings. He was later hired by Fox Sports, according to Variety.

NBC News fires Matt Lauer over sexual misconduct allegations

On Nov. 29, 2017, Americans woke up to the shocking news that Matt Lauer, a staple of the "Today" show for more than 20 years, had suddenly been fired by NBC News after the organization received a "detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace." The news was delivered by Lauer's co-anchor of many years, Savannah Guthrie, who herself had learned of the news just hour before the Today show aired that morning.

The complaint and Lauer's firing came on the heels of bombshell reports from Variety and the The New York Times, which detailed Lauer's alleged inappropriate behavior over the years. Lauer eventually apologized for his actions in a statement released to the Today show. "There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. " he wrote. "Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed."

Michael Strahan blindsided Kelly Ripa

In April 2016, Michael Strahan shocked audiences when he announced he was leaving "Live! with Kelly and Michael" to join "Good Morning America" in the fall. Apparently, no one was more shocked by this than Strahan's co-host, Kelly Ripa, who reportedly received the news just as the press release was being sent out by Disney, according to TMZ. Amid a sea of rumors about the show's future, Ripa failed to show up to work the next day, leaving Strahan to address his high-profile exit on his own. After a few days of radio silence, Ripa had informed her staff via email that she would eventually return to work. TMZ followed up with a report that Ripa's return to "Live!" came only after "tough talks" with Disney.

Ripa addressed the scandal on her first day back in a lengthy speech about respect in the workplace. As more and more rumors surfaced about Ripa and Strahan's tense relationship, Disney announced that Strahan would leave the show on May 13, 2016, four months earlier than planned. That could be a sign that Disney was trying to play nice with Ripa, who has co-hosted the show for 15 years. Ripa seemingly confirmed things were not cool between her and Strahan in a number of jaw-dropping on-air gags directed at Strahan, including one about his divorce.

Kelly Ripa was left in the dark when Regis Philbin left

Kelly Ripa's anger over Michael Strahan's exit may have been partially fueled by a case of "deja vu." According to TMZ, Ripa's former co-host, Regis Philbin, pulled a similar stunt by telling Ripa he was retiring just 15 minutes before he made the announcement on air. At the time, Ripa was reportedly "blindsided" by the news, the same word used to describe her reaction to Strahan's departure. However, in that case, sources told TMZ Ripa wasn't actually angry.

Incidentally, Philbin came to Ripa's defense during the Strahan debacle, telling TMZ, "They should have told her in the beginning!" He added even more insight during an appearance on "Larry King Now." "She got very offended when I left," said Philbin, who died in 2020 at age 88. "She thought I was leaving because of her. I was leaving because I was getting older and it wasn't right for me anymore."

Ripa subsequently opened up about working with Philbin on "Live! With Regis and Kelly" from 2001 to 2011. As she explained, the apparent camaraderie that viewers witnessed onscreen didn't tell the whole story about the co-hosts' complicated working relationship. "There were good and bad days," Ripa told People of co-hosting with Philbin. "I don't want to feel like I'm slamming anyone or that I'm being disrespectful. But I also want people to know it was not a cakewalk."

Bryant Gumbel slammed Willard Scott behind his back

In 1989, a scathing memo written by "Today" show anchor Bryant Gumbel to executive producer Marty Ryan criticizing much of the show's on-air talent leaked to the press, putting the program at the center of a media firestorm. The press paid special attention to Gumbel's comments about weatherman Willard Scott. "[Scott is holding] the show hostage to his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste," Gumbel wrote (via The Los Angeles Times), later adding: "He can't leave this job and couldn't get a better one."

The memo reportedly caused a riff between Gumbel and Scott behind the scenes, which Scott confirmed in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer. "It was horrible," Scott said of the feud in 1989. "I didn't go out for a couple of months. I didn't go to church. I didn't mingle in crowds. I got sick of hearing, 'How's Bryant?' It really was driving me crazy. I'm sure it drove him crazy, too. Unfortunately, he was the one who started it."

Scott semiretired in 1996. He continued to announce birthday wishes on "Today" until his official retirement in 2015. Gumbel left in 1997.

Billy Bush made lewd comments with Donald Trump

"Today" show anchor Billy Bush was fired in 2016 following lewd comments he and Donald Trump made in a leaked video from behind the scenes of a 2005 episode of "Access Hollywood."

In the clip, obtained by the The Washington Post, Bush and Trump describe making unwanted sexual advances towards women, including "Access Hollywood" host Nancy O'Dell, as well as discussing the appearances of other women, including "Days of our Lives" actor Arianne Zucker, who gave Bush and Trump a tour of the soap opera set for "Access Hollywood." In the video, Bush encourages Zucker to hug Trump and makes some rude remarks about her legs (and other things.)

When the video first leaked, Bush released a statement to Page Six. "Obviously I'm embarrassed and ashamed. It's no excuse, but this happened 11 years ago — I was younger, less mature and acted foolishly in playing along," he said. "I'm very sorry."

Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck go to war

An entire article could be dedicated to the many on-air and behind-the-scenes controversies on "The View," but of all the headaches, none will ever top the epic on-air fight between Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck on May 23, 2007. Their debate over U.S. military involvement in Iraq grew so heated that O'Donnell quit the show after that episode aired. Less than a year later, O'Donnell told People that she and Hasselbeck had buried the hatchet, but in 2014, Hasselbeck exhumed the beef via an Instagram post, sharing the old clip of O'Donnell's comments and noting that she still considered them indefensible. 

Another wrinkle surfaced in some comments O'Donnell made in the book "Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of 'The View.'" "I think there were underlying lesbian overtones on both parts," O'Donnell said, revealing she had a "crush" on Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck responded during a 2019 appearance on "The View," insisting those feelings were not mutual. "She has my forgiveness, full heart, and I really pray that she can just have the peace that she deserves," she said of O'Donnell on the show, per ABC News.

Not to be outdone, O'Donnell addressed those remarks during an Instagram Live chat. "She was so afraid of the concept of a lesbian having a crush on her that she had to go directly to Jesus, do not pass go, do not collect $200," she said, per Newsweek.

Josh Elliott's big risk misfires

Josh Elliott became a rising star in 2012 as "Good Morning America" overtook "Today" in the ratings. But within two years, he was out at ABC after what The Hollywood Reporter describes as a "messy" exit. According to the report, Elliott was demanding $10 million annually to stay at "GMA;" ABC offered $5 million. Meanwhile, Page Six reported that Elliott immediately wanted George Stephanopoulos' job as co-lead anchor.

Elliott's demands were dismissed. Amid the drama, it was announced he'd be leaving ABC to join NBC Sports, where he lasted less than two years. Sources for Page Six claim Elliott and NBC mutually agreed to part ways after the network couldn't find a proper role for him. "He's being paid $5 million a year to do basically nothing," the source said.

In March 2016, Page Six reported that Elliott would become lead anchor for CBSN, CBS News' digital streaming news network, which is either a huge promotion or a crazy demotion, depending on which side of the technology debate you're on.

Fans erupted when Jane Pauley was shown the door

Months after Bryant Gumbel's memo leaked, the "Today" show battled more bad press amid rumors that its anchor of 13 years, Jane Pauley, was about to be ousted by the younger, blonder Deborah Norville. The rumors started in September of 1989, after Norville replaced news anchor John Palmer and began sitting at the main desk alongside Pauley and Gumbel. Months later, Pauley confirmed she was, in fact, leaving after 13 years on the show. Her final morning on "Today" was a tearful broadcast on December 23, 1989. "I feel like someone who is packing up to leave home," Pauley said in an interview following her departure, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. "There were tears when the staff got together after the show, but I feel excited about the future."

Plagued by tabloid scandals and unpopularity over Pauley's ousting, Norville left "Today" in April 1991 after just 14 months on the job. "I was the center of a storm not of my making," Norville told The New York Times after her exit, describing the backlash she received in the press as "a real character builder that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy."

Norville was replaced by Katie Couric. Incidentally, both Pauley and Norville went on to bigger and even more lucrative careers as the hosts of "Dateline" and "Inside Edition," respectively.

Star Jones' exit from The View left Barbara Walters feeling 'betrayed'

Lawyer Star Jones was one of the original co-hosts hired by "The View" when the show launched in 1997. Jones' tenure on the show, however, came to be marred by controversy, due to her extreme weight loss (which she later revealed to be the result of gastric bypass surgery, which wasn't divulged to viewers) and controversy over enlisting sponsors to fund her lavish wedding. By 2006, producers determined Jones' antics were eroding her credibility. "They had done a great deal of research, and her negatives were rising," Barbara Walters, the show's host and exec producer, told The New York Times. "Not so much because of what she did on the air. It was things she did off the air. The audience was losing trust in her. They didn't believe some of the things she said."

As a result, Walters and her fellow producers decided to cut Jones loose, orchestrating a strategy to ensure a graceful departure. Jones, however, blew it all up when she went rogue during a broadcast, announcing her exit days before the official announcement had been scheduled. "I love Star and I was trying to do everything I possibly could, up until this morning when I was betrayed, to protect her," Waters told The Associated Press.

Six years later, Jones appeared on "The View" to address her controversial departure. "It was ugly," she admitted, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

Sharon Osbourne exited The Talk amid a racism scandal

Sharon Osbourne was one of the original co-hosts on "The Talk," CBS's answer to "The View," when the show debuted in 2010 — and she remained with the show until an awkward on-air discussion led to her ignominious exit. It all began when TV host Piers Morgan was fired from "Good Morning Britain" after claiming the Duchess of Sussex lied when she and husband Prince Harry alleged racism within the royal family during their interview with Oprah Winfrey. Osbourne announced her support for Morgan in a since-deleted tweet, which led to an on-air discussion of race with "The Talk" co-host Sheryl Underwood. The conversation didn't go well, with Osbourne becoming combative as Underwood, who is Black, patiently tried to explain why Morgan's statements — and Osbourne's defense of them — could be considered racist. After being pilloried on social media, Osbourne tweeted an apology, claiming she "panicked, felt blindsided, got defensive."

Meanwhile, CBS had initiated an internal review into the matter. Days later, CBS issued a statement announcing Osbourne's exit from "The Talk." As Osbourne subsequently told the Sunday Times that the controversy effectively ended her American television career. "Here it was like I was dead," she said.

The following year, Osbourne was the subject of a Fox Nation series, "Sharon Osbourne: To Hell and Back," detailing her expulsion from the show. "I was this lamb slaughtered that morning," she griped in a clip, adding, "and CBS denied responsibility."

Steve Harvey was left embarrassed when his memo to staff was leaked

Comedian Steve Harvey entered the syndicated daytime talk arena in 2012 with the Chicago-shot "Steve Harvey." In 2016, outlets reported on Harvey's plans to end that show and launch a new one, taped in Los Angeles. In the midst of that transition, a memo from Harvey to his staff was obtained by Chicago journalist Roger Feder, who published it on his blog. In the memo, Harvey detailed some new rules, prohibiting staffers from entering his dressing room uninvited and to not speak with him unless requested to do so; failure to abide by those rules, he wrote, would result in that staffer being escorted out by a member of his security team. "IF YOU OPEN MY DOOR, EXPECT TO BE REMOVED," he emphasized. 

After a barrage of negative headlines, Harvey explained why he wrote the memo. "I just didn't want to be in this prison anymore where I had to be in this little room, scared to go out and take a breath of fresh air without somebody approaching me, so I wrote the letter," he subsequently told Entertainment Tonight.

Months later, while promoting his new show at the Television Critics Association press tour, Harvey joked about the scandal unleashed by the memo. "I was okay until I saw it on CNN and then I knew I was in a lot of trouble," he explained to reporters, per Deadline. "I thought it was cute. You all did not."

Megyn Kelly's Blackface comments cratered her fledgling daytime show

In 2017, long-time Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was hired by NBC, with her new daytime talk show — "Megan Kelly Today" — to replace the third hour of the network's "Today." Launching that September, early reviews were scathing; CNN's Brian Lowry, for example, detailed the awkwardness of the right-wing host's attempts at "conspicuously trying to reintroduce herself in the mold of Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres" while distancing herself from her Fox News past. 

Kelly's show had only been on the air for a few weeks when an on-air discussion of Blackface in Halloween costumes went off the rails after Kelly declared, "When I was a kid that was okay." Kelly's comments were instantly hit with backlash, and reminders that just a few years earlier she insisted on Fox News that Santa and Jesus are white. Kelly opened the following day's show by stating, "I want to begin with two words: I'm sorry." The apology, however, did little to quell the controversy. After she was dumped by her agents, it was reported that NBC had canceled the show, leaving her future with the network uncertain.

Just over a year later, NBC officially severed all ties with Kelly. "The parties have resolved their differences, and Megyn Kelly is no longer an employee of NBC," the network said in a statement, reported by CNN. Kelly didn't walk away empty-handed, and ultimately received the entirety of her $69 million contract.

Whoopi Goldberg was suspended from The View over her inflammatory Holocaust remarks

Oscar-winning actor and comedian Whoopi Goldberg joined "The View" in 2007, ultimately becoming the show's moderator after the retirement of Barbara Walters in 2014 (Walters died in December 2022). 

In January 2022, Goldberg stepped into controversy during a discussion of the Holocaust-themed graphic novel, "Maus," which had been banned by a Tennessee school board. "It's not about race," Goldberg said of the Holocaust. Goldberg was immediately hit with backlash, and subsequently offered an apology. "I said the Holocaust 'is not about race, but about man's inhumanity to man.' I should have said it is about both," she wrote in a since-deleted tweet, per ET Canada. Goldberg also apologized on the next episode of "The View." "But it is indeed about race, because Hitler and the Nazis considered the Jews to be an inferior race," she told viewers, as reported by Variety.

Those apologies, however, weren't enough. ABC News president Kim Godwin subsequently issued a statement via Twitter, announcing Goldberg's punishment. "Effective immediately, I am suspending Whoopi Goldberg for two weeks for her wrong and hurtful comments," the statement read. "While Whoopi has apologized, I've asked her to take time to reflect and learn about the impact of her comments. The entire ABC News organization stands in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, friends, family and communities."

Amy Robach's affair with GMA co-host T.J. Holmes led them both to be fired

Amy Robach joined ABC News in 2012, while T.J. Holmes was hired in 2014; in 2020, the pair had been partnered to co-anchor "GMA3," the third hour of ABC's flagship morning show "Good Morning America." Sometime in 2021, rumors emerged the two were having an affair.

In November 2022, the Daily Mail claimed the two were "locked in a passionate romance" despite being married to other people — Holmes to immigration lawyer Marilee Fiebig, Robach to former "Melrose Place" star Andrew Shue. Shortly after, a subsequent story confirmed the relationship, with Holmes and Robach reportedly fessing up to their mutual employer as the whole thing unfolded in a frenzy of tabloid headlines. The two were then taken off the show while network execs tried to figure out how to handle the scandal. In January 2023, it was reported that neither had been fired, but it remained highly unlikely they'd be returning to "GMA3."

About two weeks later, it became official: both Robach and Holmes were out. "After several productive conversations with Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes, about different options, we all agreed it's best for everyone that they move on from ABC News," a network spokesperson said in a statement obtained by CNN. The pair were subsequently spotted vacationing in Mexico, where they were photographed sharing a poolside kiss.