Most Controversial Moments In The History Of The View

The following article includes mentions of sexual assault and child abuse allegations, as well as mental health struggles.

Since its 1997 debut, the women-led talk show panel on "The View" has been notorious for putting everyone, from celebrities to public figures and even fellow co-hosts, in the hot seat.

Who's the Oscar winner that staunchly defended disgraced comedian Bill Cosby? Who equated immigration rights with needing someone to clean their toilets? And who just up and quit one day? There have been tears, apologies, anti-apologies, and plenty of choice and not-so-choice words exchanged. In other words, there is always a lot to talk about on this long-running talk show.

It's no surprise that "The View" has seen its fair share of dramatic and uncomfortable encounters over the course of its more than two decades on the air, but with so many headline-making experiences to choose from, it's difficult to pick favorites (or least favorites). Here is our collection of the most biting, surprising, scandalous, and controversial moments in the show's history.

Whoopi Goldberg defends Bill Cosby

At this point, few people are jumping in to defend disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, who was convicted with numerous sexual assault charges and only set free in 2021 due to a technicality of court procedure. But in 2014 and 2015, when women first started coming forward with their accusations, Whoopi Goldberg came to Cosby's defense on "The View," explaining that she did not want to make a judgment until his case was tried in court.

Goldberg caught a lot of heat for her statements, but the truth is that in 2014, the entire cast — aside from Rosie O'Donnell — took a similar stance. Jezebel summed up their positions: Nicolle Wallace said at the time that, "This is either a tragedy or a tragedy. ... I don't know what the truth is." Rosie Perez lamented, "It's as if you are guilty until proven innocent," and decried the role of social media. Only O'Donnell pushed her co-hosts to take Cosby's many accusers at their word.

Goldberg defended Cosby yet again on "The View" the following year, saying (via the Daily Mail), "This is my opinion and in America, still — I know it's a shock — but you actually were innocent until proven guilty. ... He has not been proven a rapist." However, she switched her stance following an interview with ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams, eventually conceding that about 50 women falsely accusing Cosby was highly unlikely. And when he was finally charged in 2016, per ET, the host stated that she was "glad" it was happening.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Kelly Osbourne's toilet comment

In a controversial and cringe-worthy moment in August 2015, "The View" co-host Kelly Osbourne tried to make a point about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump's immigration plans, but her ill-articulated feelings fell flatter than flat.

Discussing Trump's comments about Latinos, co-host Rosie Perez argued that such rhetoric was detrimental to dealing with immigration issues in the United States. Osbourne chimed in, "If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilet, Donald Trump? ... You know what I mean?" Mmm, no, we don't. Perez clapped back: "Latinos are not the only people to do that."

Osbourne's comment provoked a ton of outrage on social media, and she later issued an apology on Facebook: "I will take responsibility for my poor choice of words but I will not apologize for being a racist as I am NOT. I whole-hearted[ly] f***ed up today." She also said Perez cut her off mid-sentence, so she wasn't able to finish her point. In turn, Perez kindly tweeted her support and apologies to Osbourne.

Osbourne told Entertainment Weekly she made a mistake trying to fall back on "witty sarcasm" when discussing race.

Barbara Walters sides with Woody Allen

Woody Allen and Mia Farrow's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, has gone on the record numerous times (including in a 2021 HBO documentary) to accuse Allen of sexually abusing her when she was 7 years old. To date, Allen has never been prosecuted and continues to vociferously deny Dylan's claims, though a number of high-profile Hollywood figures have turned their backs on him in the wake of the scandal and the rapidly growing #MeToo movement.

"The View" co-host Barbara Walters came under serious scrutiny when she voiced her opinion during a February 2014 episode, suggesting that Allen was innocent and Dylan Farrow must be lying. At the time, Farrow had recently published a letter in The New York Times detailing her allegations against Allen. Walters claimed, "She's doing it now because he's up for an award." Walters also said that she'd spent a lot of time with Allen and his family, that he seemed to love his kids very much, and that it didn't seem like he'd be capable of harming anyone.

Walters' co-hosts were quick to argue. Sherri Shepherd offered up that Allen's current wife, Soon-Yi Previn, was also one of Mia Farrow's adopted children and that Soon-Yi was allegedly just 17 at the start of their relationship. Walters wouldn't budge, however, and continued to insist that Allen's preference for younger women wasn't proof of inappropriate behavior. The backlash on Twitter was swift, with viewers accusing Walters of silencing sexual abuse victims and displaying favoritism, reported USA Today.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Rosie O'Donnell vs. Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Some of the most outrageous and controversial moments in the history of "The View" have occurred between co-hosts. Arguably one of the most infamous was the on-screen blowout between Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

During a May 2007 episode, O'Donnell and Hasselbeck (who typically represented opposite sides of the political spectrum) got deep into it about the war in Iraq. O'Donnell had previously expressed frustration that conservative groups had claimed that she called American troops "terrorists." Leading up to the fight, O'Donnell predicted that getting into a conversation with Hasselbeck about the issue would result in accusations that, "Big, fat, lesbian, loud Rosie attacks innocent, pure, Christian Elisabeth."

An increasingly heated discussion erupted about the co-hosts' relationship and if Hasselbeck would defend O'Donnell. The whole thing culminated with O'Donnell calling Hasselbeck a coward, and Behar pleading that the show go to commercial. Former executive producer Bill Geddie reflected on the fight in 2016: "It was a horrible day to be in 'The View' studios."

Whoopi Goldberg sticks up for Mel Gibson

In July 2010, Mel Gibson's career seemed to be in the balance following offensive, racist, and sexist rants leaked online that were alleged to be recordings of the actor screaming at and threatening his then-girlfriend.

Whoopi Goldberg invited controversy when she jumped to Gibson's defense on "The View," saying, "I don't like what he did here, but I know Mel and I know he's not a racist. ... He may be a bonehead. ... I can't sit and say that he's a racist, having spent time with him in my house with my kids." According to the New York Daily News, during an episode a few days later, Goldberg stood by her original statements, saying, "My experience tells me that this is not a racist." She also said her office had been receiving threatening phone calls in the wake of her initial defense of Gibson.

Co-host Joy Behar appeared on The Insider (via Perez Hilton) and explained that she was surprised by Goldberg's position, noting that "Barbara [Walters] would not allow him on the show. Barbara's Jewish, he's an anti-Semite, he's a racist ... so he's done." To date, Gibson has never appeared on "The View."

Walking out on Bill O'Reilly

It's safe to say that a lot of people have a problem with provocative former Fox pundit Bill O'Reilly, especially since he was fired over sexual harassment allegations. Two of "The View" hosts made their less-than-fuzzy feelings toward O'Reilly known during a heated October 2010 appearance.

O'Reilly appeared on "The View" to publicize his book, "Pinheads and Patriots." The hot topic for the segment was a mosque that was slated to be constructed near Ground Zero. O'Reilly was dead-set against the mosque and bickered heartily with the hosts. Meanwhile, Joy Behar made bunny ears behind O'Reilly's head and called him a pinhead (an allusion to his book). The laughs ended, however, when O'Reilly said, "Muslims killed us on 9/11."

Angered by the racist undertones of O'Reilly's comments, Whoopi Goldberg and Behar got up and walked off the set. According to ABC News, they returned after O'Reilly sort of apologized for making some people feel like he was "demeaning all Muslims," though he maintained his original position for the remainder of his interview.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck makes light of Erin Andrews' stalking case

In 2008, sportscaster Erin Andrews was the victim of a horrible stalking incident that involved a man videotaping her through a peephole as she undressed in a motel room. Elisabeth Hasselbeck landed in hot water after making light of the crime during a May 2010 episode of "The View." 

In the segment, Hasselbeck talks about Andrews' costumes on "Dancing With the Stars," saying, "In the past three weeks she's been wearing next to nothing. ... I mean, in some way if I'm [the stalker], I'm like, 'Man! I just could've waited 12 weeks and seen this — a little bit less — without the prison time!'"

Andrews told People (via HuffPost) that Hasselbeck's comments were "a slap in the face to victims of stalking and sexual predators." Hasselbeck later tearfully explained on the show that she deeply regretted her comments and had called Andrews on the phone (at the behest of her then-5-year-old daughter) to personally apologize. However, Andrews told Us Weekly (via the New York Daily News) that she didn't speak with Hasselbeck. Honestly, we can't blame her.

Raven Symone's racial firestorm

Guest co-host and former Disney star Raven Symoné quickly gained rank in the controversy department of "The View" in March 2015 by defending racist comments that Univision host Rodner Figueroa had made about Michelle Obama.

Figueroa had been fired from his job at Univision after comparing the first lady to a cast member from "Planet of the Apes." According to The Wrap, Rosie Perez was the first member of "The View" panel to speak out against Figueroa (with an arguably racist remark of her own). "There is a secret in the Latin community, specifically the Caribbean, South American, Central American Latin community. They are very racist," she said.

Symoné wasn't convinced that Figueroa had meant his comments in a racist way. "Some people look like animals," she said. "I look like a bird. So can I be mad if somebody calls me a Toucan Sam?" The controversy didn't stop there for Symoné. She also caught serious heat for comments she made later that year. During an October 2015 episode, she disparaged ethnic-sounding names, saying, "I'm not about to hire you if your name is Watermelondrea."

Donald Trump's birther brouhaha

Long before Donald Trump was running for president, he was busy spreading conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama's citizenship. In 2011, he visited the women of "The View" to discuss potential political ambitions, throw shade at Obama, and demand that the then-president produce proof that he was actually born in the United States. "Why doesn't he show his birth certificate?" Trump asked the hosts.

"Why should he have to?" Goldberg shot back. Trump's reply: "I wish he would. ... It's a terrible pall that's hanging over him." He also claimed that no one from Obama's childhood remembers him. Trump acknowledged that Obama was "probably" born in the U.S., but suggested there's something on his birth certificate he didn't want to show to public.

Goldberg called Trump's commentary "the biggest pile of dog mess I've heard in ages." Let us never forget that in 2011, President Obama released his birth certificate and derided the distracting noise that people like Trump had created. Trump then took credit for settling the issue, although he has since kicked up dust about it again.

Drunk Danny DeVito visits The View

Let's set politics aside for a moment and turn to a memorable 2006 episode of "The View" that garnered a ton of well-deserved attention: Drunk Danny DeVito.

The diminutive actor showed up for a wide-ranging interview in November of that year, and it quickly became apparent that he wasn't entirely sober. He warmly greeted the hosts and then went on to explain that he'd been out partying all night with George Clooney and didn't know if he'd slept. "I knew it was the last seven limoncellos that was going to get me," he said. DeVito also discussed how the White House was a really cool place, delivered bizarre impressions of President George W. Bush, and talked about making love to his wife in the Lincoln bedroom. The segment is worth watching for Barbara Walters' reactions alone.

DeVito's rep later told TMZ that his client intended to call Walters to apologize for his behavior, but the actor managed to find a way to profit off the whole drunken debacle, launching Danny DeVito's Limoncello (no joke) shortly thereafter. For his part, Clooney addressed DeVito's interview on the "Today" show (via People): "I had to do 'Regis & Kelly' the next day and I was pretty hung over as well."

Elisabeth Hasselbeck's clothing drama

Back to politics: In October 2008, "The View" co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck courted controversy with the show's producers when she donned a T-shirt in support of then-presidential candidate John McCain on air. She had never been shy about voicing her conservative opinions, but some thought that her actually giving McCain her support through her clothes was a step too far.

According to Today, the "Great AmeriCAIN" shirt, which Hasselbeck designed, prompted the following terse response from the show: "Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie, executive producers of 'The View,' don't think it's appropriate to wear T-shirts endorsing either candidate but would never forbid any of the co-hosts from expressing themselves."

Hasselbeck later told Politico that wearing the shirt, which was sold online, around New York was "an interesting social experiment," admitting that she "got some double takes" while running in the park. Moral of the story for Hasselbeck: don't "tee" off with a tee-d off Walters.

Star Jones' surprise departure

Star Jones took matters into her own hands when, in June 2006, she interrupted the show to announce her departure from "The View" on air, much to the surprise of her colleagues. She told the audience and her visibly shocked co-hosts that the show was moving in a different direction and she wouldn't be returning for the 10th season. "I'm not sure what the future holds," Jones said, explaining why she had made this decision. "But I'm absolutely sure who holds the future."

Viewers speculated about the true nature of Jones' departure. Walters later explained to The New York Times that it had actually been in the works for months and that producers decided not to renew Jones' contract due to negative audience reactions to her. However, Walters claimed that Jones had gone off-script: the original plan was to announce her departure together as a group.

Ann Coulter's controversial opinions on race

Conservative author and media personality Ann Coulter has made a name for herself by promoting inflammatory ideas. She stayed the course during a September 2012 appearance on "The View," promoting her book, "Mugged," and opining that liberals are guilty of "race-mongering" and that most supporters of segregation were liberals.

Whoopi Goldberg challenged her theories. "If you're gonna talk about race, at least know what you're talking about. Tell me how much you know about being Black." Coulter replied that her book wasn't about Black people, but about white liberals not caring about Black people. According to HuffPost, Coulter barreled on with her controversial decrees about liberals and their views on race, while Goldberg continued to be visibly distressed by her statements. 

The conservative pundit even drove Goldberg to use profanity on the show: the Academy Award winner was eventually bleeped for calling Coulter's thoughts "bulls***."

Joy Behar insults nurses everywhere

One group of people you really don't want to upset is the nurse community, as Joy Behar discovered in September 2015. As "The View" panelists watched a clip of Miss Colorado giving a speech at the Miss America pageant wearing her nurse's uniform, Behar quipped, "Why does she have a doctor's stethoscope around her neck?"

According to Us Weekly, the social media response was almost immediate, with nurses creating a hashtag #NursesUnite and calling for Behar to apologize, pointing out that all medical professionals regularly wear stethoscopes. The American Nurses Association also responded, releasing a statement that derided Behar for using "her national platform and influence to mock Miss America contestant Kelley Johnson ... as if Johnson were wearing a costume."

You've probably predicted by now that Behar apologized, saying, "It was just stupid and inattentive on my part."

Meghan McCain's choice words for Joy Behar

Meghan McCain and Joy Behar sparked a lot of conversation about what kind of language is appropriate for a political debate after the conservative host called Behar a "b***h" on live TV in 2019.

The pair argued over McCain's efforts to explain why Republicans were supporting Donald Trump, per ET Canada, as Behar spoke about how angry she was. "I'm the sacrificial Republican every day," McCain insisted, after Whoopi Goldberg tried to intervene and cool the discussion down. When Behar responded with mock sympathy, McCain continued: "Don't feel bad for me, b***h. I'm paid to do this, okay? Don't feel bad for me."

She later claimed that the hosts all call each other "b***h" all the time. "I just want everyone to stop being so precious about our relationship, because it's almost 2020 and women can debate on TV in a spirited way without it being personal, and I know this is a big shock — we get along backstage," McCain argued. Behar agreed, adding that the two women are "both pugilistic, and so it's fine."

McCain also compared herself and Behar to "boxers" on "Watch What Happens Live," claiming that besides politics, they are "very similar" as women. "We leave it all out on the table, we fight like boxers and then we leave, and I'm like, 'Do you want to get a drink? Are we cool?'"

Whoopi Goldberg tells Meghan McCain to 'stop talking'

Although Whoopi Goldberg once told the late Senator John McCain that she would "look after" his daughter on air, according to an extract from Meghan McCain's memoir published by Vanity Fair, the conservative co-host's behavior sometimes tested Goldberg's patience.

During a 2019 argument about the Senate, Meghan McCain kept talking over her fellow hosts and interrupting Goldberg as she tried to end the segment and go to commercial break. "Girl, please stop talking ... right now," Goldberg eventually snapped, per Entertainment Weekly, prompting McCain to emotionally claim that she wouldn't open her mouth again for the remainder of the show. "I'm okay with that," Goldberg replied.

In her book, McCain insisted that Goldberg had "open disdain for her," which became "more and more difficult to manage as the years went on," especially during political arguments. The moment when the actor told the conservative host to stop talking "instantly trended on Twitter," as McCain noted, which she claimed "really hurt" and affected their relationship. "As the country got worse under Trump, the treatment from Whoopi, Joy and some of the staff grew meaner and less forgiving," McCain insisted. "It was as if I had become an avatar for everything they hated about the president."

Meghan McCain walks out

Meghan McCain and Ana Navarro are two women who don't back down easily. But during one argument on "The View" in 2019, McCain got so upset with her co-host that she actually left the set during a commercial break.

The pair had been debating on the topic of whistleblowers and the conversation became heated when McCain tried to bring up Julian Assange, per Entertainment Tonight. "I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about the administration," Navarro told her fellow host. "... I'm talking about sending Rudy Giuliani out to distract us. I'm talking about telling us yesterday that Stephen Miller is actually dating a human being and not an inflatable to distract us."

When McCain insisted that she didn't know what Navarro meant, the host responded by warning her not to raise her voice. "I'm two feet away. I don't need you to scream at me this way," Navarro pointed out. The remark clearly hit a nerve, since the conservative correspondent then stormed off the set. Although she later returned to set following a commercial break, McCain's departure stirred up a lot of debate on Twitter, where she responded to the controversy by dismissively writing: "Another day, another drama."

Whoopi Goldberg doesn't see eye to eye with Mo'Nique

When Mo'Nique came on "The View" in 2018 to talk about her pay dispute with Netflix, she ended up in an unexpected feud with Whoopi Goldberg. After the actor and comedian claimed that she had been blacklisted from the industry after the film "Precious," Goldberg accused her of simply being unprofessional. "I said if you had called me, I could've schooled you on what was expected," the "Ghost" star insisted in response to Mo'Nique's allegations of bullying.

"When you have a woman saying, 'I could have schooled you,' someone would say, 'What was the schooling going to be?' When I look at this woman you say is our icon and our legend — she is," Mo'Nique later told Vulture, arguing that Goldberg had been condescending towards her. Although she called the host her "sister," Mo'Nique went on to question Goldberg's own career and credibility. "But, how many things has Whoopi Goldberg executive produced? Whoopi Goldberg has always been the help, and I say that humbly. So what is it that you're going to school me on? I've been doing it for almost 30 years." 

Mo'Nique concluded, "In that moment I knew I was looking at a woman who didn't give a d**n about me."

Joy Behar denies missing Meghan McCain

Joy Behar and Meghan McCain have had their fair share of arguments over the years, but in January 2021, one comment pushed McCain too far. After the conservative host came back to "The View" from maternity leave, Behar shut down any kind of heartfelt reunion. McCain teased her during an argument, per ET Canada, insisting that the other woman had "missed" fighting with her. "I did not," Behar flatly replied. "I did not miss you. Zero."

In an excerpt of her memoir, "Bad Republican," published by Variety, McCain revealed that she had struggled with postpartum anxiety before her return, so the "nasty" comment hit close to home. "Nothing anyone has ever said to me on camera since I have been giving interviews since I was 22 years old ever hit this hard," the host claimed, adding that she and Behar had previously texted about baby Liberty. "We'd chatted in a friendly way. I believed that, despite all our differences, deep down, we had a mutual understanding of respect for each other."

McCain was so upset by her fellow host that she sobbed and threw up once the show was done. "It is one of the most singular feelings of loneliness and anguish I have felt in my entire life," she shared, calling the moment "a perfect storm of hormones, postpartum anxiety and a lot of demons on 'The View' coming out to bite me." Although McCain wanted an apology from Behar, the show's producers told her not to expect one, and the two women didn't speak "one on one" again.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.