The Shady Side Of Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg has been a mainstay on both the small and big screen for almost four decades. In addition to her comedic turn in the "Sister Act" films, she won praise for her serious acting roles, notably in "The Color Purple," and "Ghost," for which she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Away from the camera, she is a passionate activist and ally to the LGBTQ+ community. But a glittering career, international acclaim, and a hefty net worth haven't prevented Goldberg from indulging in some major trolling.

Despite her commendable choices in both her professional and political life, Goldberg has become something of a controversy magnet. Throughout the years, she has exhibited a truly shady side, defending the seemingly indefensible and reportedly feuding with co-stars. What exactly turned the venerated comic and pundit into Whoopi Trollberg?

Discussing her controversies with The New York Times, Goldberg claimed that she doesn't take public outcries particularly seriously. "When people say now, 'So-and-so did that,' I always say, 'I don't know if that's true.' Because I've been in the same place ... I don't know when somebody is really awful or whether someone has just put something out there about them. I'm not a conspiracy person, but how can you believe things when you know there are bots?" she said. Unfortunately for Goldberg, many of her indiscretions were broadcast on "The View," so there's no escaping her history of throwing shade. Let's take a look at the shady side of Whoopi Goldberg.

Did Whoopi Goldberg lie about being Jewish?

Whoopi Goldberg was born Caryn Johnson, yet she changed her name prior to embarking on an acting career. She has given inconsistent accounts of her stage name. Speaking with Marlo Thomas, she claimed that "Goldberg" is a family name. Likewise, she told Playbill, "The true story is that my family is Jewish, Buddhist, Baptist and Catholic ... So I took the last name from a Jewish ancestor." Speaking with The Jewish Chronicle, she stated "I just know I am Jewish." The outlet notes that it may have been Goldberg's mother who suggested the surname as Johnson was "'not Jewish enough' for her daughter to become a star."

But genealogy records refute Goldberg's claims: she has no Jewish ancestry nor any relatives with that surname. Writing for The New York Post, John Podhoretz accused the comedian of appropriating Jewish culture. "Through the years, she's offered many weird and contradictory explanations for her change in moniker," he wrote.

Moreover, she was criticized for seemingly mocking Jewish women in a 1993 recipe she penned, entitled "Jewish American Princess Fried Chicken," per Daily Mail. In the recipe, which was written for the charity Cooking in The Litchfield Hills, she arguably reinforced antisemitic stereotypes of Jews being wealthy. Activist Noa Tishby told the Mail, "The term Jewish American Princess or JAP was created as a microaggression to bash and suppress Jewish upward mobility. That's what it was used for: to mock Jewish women for their families' success."

Whoopi Goldberg came on to an underage boy

Whoopi Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris starred together in the 1988 film "Clara's Heart." At the time, Harris was just 15-years-old. When Harris and Goldberg were reunited on "The View" in 2018, the former reminisced about working with the host in his first ever movie role. But fans were shocked when Harris then divulged an anecdote about his co-star's problematic on-set behavior. "I was 15, 16 years old — she told me on my last day of shooting that in 10 years time she was going to have sex with me," he revealed. There was an audible gasp from the audience, leading Goldberg to admit that she "might have" said that. "See, in those days, you could actually have some fun like that. You can't do that now. People get very upset now," Goldberg lamented.

As Good Housekeeping notes, many viewers found the idea of a woman in her 30s making sexual references to a child extremely problematic. "Not conversations for a grown woman and a 15 year old boy to have," one Twitter user wrote.

Although Harris appeared unperturbed by Goldberg's remarks, her behavior arguably reflects an inconsistency when it comes to sexual misconduct. Regarding this double standard, abuse support worker Curtis St. John told USA Today, "It's hard enough for a boy or a man to come forward when the offender is a male. When it is a woman, society doesn't even let them (the boys) think of themselves as victims."

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.

Defending Mel Gibson

In 2010, Mel Gibson came under fire for his racially charged outburst against his ex and mother of his child, Oksana Grigorieva. In an expletive-laden transcript published by Radar, Gibson was recorded hurling all manner of abuse at Grigorieva.

Despite the tape leading to widespread condemnation, with The Atlantic later calling it a "[foray] into anti-Black racism," Whoopi Goldberg defended Gibson on "The View." After co-host Joy Behar called Gibson out, declaring, "Give me a break, Mel, you're an antisemite, you're a misogynist, and you're a racist," Goldberg swooped in to excuse his tirade. "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 have had a long friendship with Mel ... But I can't sit and say that he's a racist, having spent time with him in my house with my kids." When Behar then brough up Gibson's infamous antisemitic rant against a police officer in 2006, an impassioned Goldberg again came to his defence, interjecting, "You know what, Joy, let me tell you something about drunks: drunks say stupid stuff to people all the time ... they're out of control. They're not thinking." Behar then argued that "in wine, the truth will come out."

Speaking with Insider (via CBS), Behar said, "I am surprised, but that's her position ... Barbara would not allow him on the show. Barbara's Jewish, he's an anti-Semite, he's a racist... so he's done."

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Her thoughts on Roman Polanski are questionable

In 1978, director Roman Polanski was found guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, per ABC News. He admitted his guilt, even boasting about his predilection for "young girls" in an interview with author Martin Amis (via The New Yorker).

On "The View," Whoopi Goldberg sparked a major backlash when she claimed that Polanski's rape conviction against the 13-year-old girl did not constitute "rape-rape." She said, "It was something else but I don't believe it was rape-rape." Amelia McDonnell-Parry condemned the remarks, writing in The Frisky (via The Guardian), "Whoopi Goldberg, who I never expected to be a rape apologist, coins a term I've never heard before – 'rape-rape.'" Jezebel described Goldberg's comments as "a condescending rant ostensibly about clarifying exactly what Roman Polanski was charged with (as if that matters, when nobody is denying that he drugged and had sex with a child)."

Since the girl in question, Samantha Geimer, was 13 when the crime was committed, it was not possible for her to consent to sex with an adult. As the Los Angeles Times argued, "In fact, it was "rape-rape" by nearly any definition except the charge to which Polanski pleaded guilty (unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor) — the underage Geimer was drugged and verbally resistant, according to court records." Geimer told the Los Angeles Times that she was bemused by Goldberg's sentiment. "I laughed so hard," she said. "I thought, 'Oh, my God, she did not just say that.'"

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).

Whoopi Goldberg defended Ted Danson's use of blackface

Whoopi Goldberg and "Cheers" star Ted Danson began dating when they made the 1993 flick "Made in America." That year, the usually contention-free Danson shocked fans when he donned blackface during a Friar's Club roast of his then girlfriend, per People. Shockingly, he even used the N word.

Goldberg defended him, saying, "It took a whole lot of courage to come out in blackface in front of 3,000 people. I don't care if you didn't like it. I did," per Roger Ebert. Danson claimed that Goldberg "dared" him to wear the controversial makeup. But, as Ebert argued, "The event demonstrated that the painful history of black-white relations in America is still too sensitive to be joked about crudely." As CNN highlights, blackface is a particularly pernicious weapon of racism due to its history rooted in slavery.

But Goldberg was unrelenting in her defense of her then-boyfriend. In a press conference (via Deseret News), she said, "We were not trying to be politically correct. We were trying to be funny for ourselves." She then criticized Montel Williams, who was offended by the fiasco, shadily stating, "Perhaps Montel's show is not doing as well as it could be and this was his way of drawing attention."

In a statement obtained by The New York Times, Mayor Dinkins condemned the incident, stating, "I was embarrassed for Whoopi and the audience and felt a tremendous sense of relief when it was over."

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Comparing Donald Trump to the Taliban

In 2017, Whoopi Goldberg shared her rather controversial view on the Taliban, comparing the terrorist organization to then-president Donald Trump. "We have had a leader who's repeatedly demeaned women, calling on the media to shut up, specifically wants to give preferential treatment based on religion, uh, are these values really much different than the Taliban?" she asked on "The View" (via Washington Examiner). However, co-host Jedediah Bila was quick to counter Goldberg's claims, arguing, "I definitely think there's a difference between the Taliban who's beheading people and chopping off heads and an American president that you may disagree with."

Some critics suggested that, despite many of Trump's questionable actions, comparing him to the Taliban is unreasonable. Conservative commentator Greg Gutfeld went on a sarcastic tirade against Goldberg on Fox News, quipping, "A reminder, the Taliban throw acid in girl's faces for going to school. Yeah, I guess that's the like defunding planned parenthood ... killing gays and I guess that's the same as making some rude jokes." He added, "Equating the butchers with those bent on stopping them is pure, mindless relativism."

However, some have reinforced Goldberg's view that the Talbian is not too dissimilar from the Trump administration. For instance, The New York Times highlighted Trump ally Matt Gaetz's assertion that "the Talbian, like Trump" is "more legitimate than the last government in Afghanistan or the current government here."

Whoopi Goldberg claimed dogfighting was part of Southern culture

In 2008, NFL quarterback Michael Vick pled guilty to dogfighting. According to ESPN, Vick's charges included "bankrolling a dogfighting operation at a home he owned" and, most shockingly, "participating in the killing of several underperforming dogs," a charge to which he admitted his guilt.

However, Whoopi Goldberg defended Vick's actions as merely being part of Southern culture. "He's from the South, from the Deep South... This is part of his cultural upbringing," she said on "The View" (via Reuters), adding, "For a lot of people, dogs are sport. Instead of just saying [Vick] is a beast and he's a monster, this is a kid who comes from a culture where this is not questioned." This led to a furious response from co-host Joy Behar, who retorted, "What part of the country is this? ... How about dog torturing and dog murdering?"

Goldberg's remarks angered animal rights groups. As PETA argued, "Michael Vick needs a lot of things right now — some serious counseling for a start — but he doesn't need anyone to give him lame excuses for his decision to torture dogs for pleasure and profit. He needs to face that horrible fact all by himself." Meanwhile, the organization's president, Ingrid Newkirk, slammed Goldberg's reduction of dogfighting to a Southern tradition. "Those who fight dogs do so in New York, Chicago and even the Republic of Ireland, and what unites them is lawlessness and callousness," she stated.

Whoopi Goldberg initially thought Bill Cosby was innocent

Few people defended Bill Cosby when he was accused of drugging and assaulting women – but Whoopi Goldberg was one of those few detractors. "I'm sorry, having been on both sides of this where people allege that you do something, it doesn't matter now. The cat is out of the bag, people have it in their heads. I have a lot of questions for the lady. Maybe she'll come on," Goldberg said of one of Cosby's accusers on "The View."

She went on to doubt why the accuser sought a lawyer as opposed to telling the police. "Perhaps the police might've believed it," Goldberg said. "Or the hospital, where you go — and don't you do a kit when you say someone has raped you? ... Isn't that the next step once you make an allegation?" Then, Goldberg questioned the veracity of settlements being tantamount to guilt, arguing that Cosby may have settled with alleged victims to protect his family. Co-host Rosie O'Donnell interjected to side with Cosby's accusers, pointing out that rape kits would not have been available to rape survivors at the time the alleged attacks took place.

John Oliver subsequently slammed Goldberg for the remarks in a sarcastic segment on "Last Week Tonight," entitled "Whoopi Goldberg Defends 10 Surprising Things." However, Vanity Fair reports that Goldberg later admitted that "all of the information that's out there kind of points to guilt" after chatting to ABC News' legal analyst Dan Abrams.

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).

Whoopi Goldberg said it was okay to sometimes hit women

On more than one occasion, Whoopi Goldberg has justified men hitting women. Regarding the infamous incident in which Solange Knowles attacked Jay-Z, Goldberg said on "The View," "If anybody hits you, you have the right. I know that many people are raised in a very different way, but if a woman hits you, to me, you have the right to hit her back." The assertion prompted a raised brow from co-host Barbara Walters.

Goldberg had similar views when discussing the Ray Rice domestic abuse incident. As reported by TMZ, Rice had punched his then fiancée Janay Palmer, knocking her unconscious, and then dragged her into a hotel room in 2014. On "The View," Goldberg claimed that "No man should ever hit a woman, but a woman should learn how to avoid provoking a man's anger." The comments led to outrage from her fellow hosts. "They're not equal," protested Jenny McCarthy. But Goldberg was unrelenting, declaring that if "a woman who's 4'3"" hits a man "who's 6 foot tall," she shouldn't be surprised if she gets hit back.

In 2009, Chris Brown was arrested for viciously beating his then girlfriend Rihanna, per E!. Despite TMZ publishing photographic evidence of Rihanna's serious injuries, Goldberg suggested that "haters” shouldn't jump to conclusions. "Nobody knows what happened so all you haters out there just find something else to hate until you get all the facts," she said on "The View" (via "Last Week Tonight").

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Slamming that Cara Delevingne interview

In 2015, Cara Delevingne gave an infamously awkward interview with CBS Sacramento in which she was accused of looking "irritated" and "in a mood." Delevingne defended herself on Twitter, arguing that "Some people just don't understand sarcasm or the British sense of humor."

Following the toe-curling interview, Whoopi Goldberg threw shade at Delevingne during a discussion on "The View" (via Mirror). The model-turned-actor was met with support from Raven-Symoné, who suggested that "She was mad she had to sit through 13 to 300 different people getting asked the same question over and over again." But Goldberg was having none of it, claiming that Delevingne should have "suck it up." In a particularly shady retort, Goldberg said, "I'm sorry. You know, she's not a famous actress. She's a newbie. She's not famous — no, honey, I'm famous."

In an interview with Glamour, Goldberg stuck by her comments, suggesting that Delevingne was ill-equipped for the life of a movie star if she was seemingly so insouciant during a promo for a major movie role. "You know, you don't always want to talk to a million people. You don't always want to sign an autograph. You've gotta try to suck it up," she explained. "And if you just got here 10 minutes ago, which is kind of how I was feeling about the person we were talking about, it's like, 'Listen. This is the life you chose.' You want to be an actress? This is what it entails."

Whoopi Goldberg shamed Bella Thorne

In 2019, Bella Thorne had to make the difficult decision to disseminate her own nude pics on Twitter after being threatened by a hacker, per CNN. "For the last 24 hours I have been threatened with my own nudes... I feel someone has taken something from me that I only wanted one special person to see," Thorne said, declaring that she took her "power back" by sharing the snaps.

But Whoopi Goldberg had little sympathy for Thorne. "If you're famous, I don't care how old you are. You don't take nude pictures of yourself," Goldberg said on "The View," adding, "You cannot be surprised that someone has hacked you, especially if you have stuff on your phone." Thorne responded to Goldberg on Instagram, stating, "You're so crazy for thinking such terrible things... You know I don't really want to go on The View anymore because I don't really want to be beaten down by a bunch of older women for my body and my sexuality."

Goldberg's remarks led to accusations of slut-shaming. As reported by Page Six, numerous celebs expressed their support for Thorne and condemned Goldberg's seemingly antiquated views. "@zendaya called me today to make sure I was ok," Thorne wrote on Instagram, adding, "S**t shaming is one of the biggest topics of this generation but yet we still keep going somehow." Meanwhile, Lucy Hale wrote, "This breaks my heart. But you're making a difference for other girls and women."

That Meghan McCain feud

As politically opposed pundits, longtime frenemies Whoopi Goldberg and Meghan McCain were famed for throwing shade at each other on "The View." For instance, Goldberg once told McCain, "Girl, please stop talking" during a heated debate, per The Washington Post. Subsequently, McCain alleged that she was "bullied out of her job" (via "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen").

In an excerpt from her memoir, "Bad Republican," published by Variety, McCain claimed, "I was the target of plenty of shade — too much to even begin to recount — and then I also experienced more toxic, direct and purposeful hostility." She took aim at Goldberg in particular, writing, "When I first joined "The View" in 2017, I felt a connection to Whoopi ... The thing about Whoopi, though, is that she yields so much power in culture and television, and once she turns on you, it can create unfathomable tension at the table." McCain went on to detail Goldberg's "open disdain" for her, which "as the years went on ... it became more frequent. Occasionally, if the show's political discourse veered into territory that she found disagreeable, Whoopi would cut me off, sometimes harshly." McCain added that Goldberg's behavior severely affected her self-esteem.

Similarly, "The View" guest NeNe Leakes told E! that the hosts bullied her. During an interview on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," Goldberg flippantly dismissed Leakes' claims. "You know, come on. Really, NeNe? ... Did somebody say something she didn't like?" Goldberg asked, quipping, "Well, you know, then come back another day and try again."

Whoopi Goldberg defended Jesse James cheating on Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock found herself in the midst of a cheating scandal in 2010 when it was revealed that her then husband, Jesse James, had been cavorting with numerous mistresses, per People. Distraught following the allegations, the Oscar-winner canceled a number of her scheduled public appearances. But there was one person who wasn't feeling entirely sympathetic towards the actor. And that was none other than Whoopi Goldberg.

"The View" host suggested that James wasn't to blame for cheating on his wife. "It's nobody's fault. Maybe he was looking for something different," Goldberg said (via E!). Not only did Goldberg defend James, but she then admitted to cheating on her own partners. "Hey, listen, I did it five or six times," she confessed. "Yes, I screwed around. Yes, while I was married. I made those mistakes, too, yeah. It happens sometimes... Maybe he wanted something wonderful in his life but couldn't deal with it."

This wouldn't be the last time Goldberg would defend cheating. In 2015, she released a book, "If Someone Says 'You Complete Me,' Run!," in which she justified extramarital affairs. Goldberg writes, "Sometimes in a relationship, people can't always get what they need, and if you have reputable people you can turn to in order to get what you need, I say go for it. It is a whole lot better than being frustrated and angry at the person you love."

Whoopi Goldberg said the holocaust was 'not about race'

In 2022, Whoopi Goldberg faced a monumental backlash when she claimed that the holocaust, which killed six million Jews on the grounds of racial "impurity," was not about race. On "The View," she asserted, "Let's be truthful about it because the holocaust isn't about race ... It's about man's inhumanity to man." Bemused, co-host Ana Navarro pointed out that the holocaust was about "white supremacy," while Sara Hines reminded Goldberg that the Nazis "didn't see them as white [people]."

Writing for Standard, Jewish comedian David Baddiel condemned the remarks, highlighting, "It has been a central project of the far-Right for centuries, key, obviously, to Hitler's thinking, that Jews are not part of the Aryan white races." The Guardian argued that Goldberg's comments exemplify a lack of awareness of the holocaust that still persists today.

Goldberg went on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" to apologize, but ended up reiterating her previous sentiments. "You can't call this racism," she said. "This was evil." The following day, she issued an apology, stating, "I said the Holocaust wasn't about race and was instead about man's inhumanity to man. But it is indeed about race because Hitler and the Nazis considered Jews to be an inferior race ... I regret my comments ... and I stand corrected. I also stand with the Jewish people as they know and y'all know, because I've always done that." In the wake of the furore, Goldberg was temporarily suspended from "The View."

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.