Jenny McCarthy Claims Barbara Walters Constantly Yelled at Her at The View: 'I Was Miserable'
"When I'd hear the shuffle of her feet, I knew that Barbara was after me," Jenny McCarthy recalls in a new book about The View
In an excerpt published Wednesday by Vulture of reporter Ramin Setoodeh’s upcoming book, Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of “The View,” McCarthy, 46, characterizes her 2013-2014 stint on the show as “miserable.” The MTV alumna goes into detail about working with Barbara Walters, the legendary broadcaster who launched the talk show in 1997.
According to McCarthy, she took the job expecting to bring some humor to the Hot Topics segment and even turned down an opportunity with CBS for her own daytime talk show. Replacing Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, McCarthy intended to provide pop culture expertise as the show veered away from politics.
McCarthy tells Setoodeh that after she started at The View, she began wondering which version of Walters she’d see every day at the studio: “Hopefully, I get the Barbara Walters who is nice,” she recalls telling herself.
“You know the movie Mommie Dearest?” I remember as a child watching that movie and going, ‘Holy cow!’ ” McCarthy says of the biographical drama about Joan Crawford’s allegedly abusive relationship with her adopted daughter, Christina Crawford.
“I’ve never seen a woman yell like that before until I worked with Barbara Walters,” she adds.
McCarthy also says Walters, then 83 and approaching her final year on the show, wasn’t ready to let go.
“Imagine a woman like Barbara Walters,” McCarthy says. “It’s her last year and she doesn’t want to leave. Think about that. And I’m the new bitch there.”
McCarthy also claims that Walters would forget who the celebrities being discussed on the show were, such as Katy Perry. McCarthy says she was told they couldn’t “do pop culture anymore because [Walters] doesn’t know who the people are” and that she was instructed to tackle politics instead.
“I panicked because I don’t consider myself a political person,” she says. “Now I had to figure out, ‘Am I coming out as a Republican or a Democrat? Where do I stand on all the social issues and political issues?’ ”
McCarthy says she became increasingly unhappy as the show swiveled back to politics.
“I was going to work crying. I couldn’t be myself,” she says. “My fans were telling me, ‘Where’s Jenny? They aren’t letting you be you.’ ”
“Every day I went home and I was miserable,” she adds. “It really was the most miserable I’ve been on a job in my 25 years of show business. I kicked myself for not taking the CBS job, of course.”
A rep for The View did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.
McCarthy also shares accounts of Walters constantly scrutinizing her clothes — “if she didn’t agree with it, or it didn’t complement her outfit, I had to change,” she says — and one instance in which Walters allegedly demanded she dispose of a tampon floating in the toilet of the communal bathroom.
“She’s standing in the hallway where the guests are, yelling at me about a tampon,” McCarthy recalls. “I don’t know. Maybe in her brain, she went, ‘I’m going to the youngest, newest person here, because obviously she has her period and left a tampon floating.’ This is Barbara Walters. I’m not going to yell at her. So finally I said, ‘I’ll take care of it. I’ll take one for the team and I’ll flush it.'”
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McCarthy began avoiding Walters, she says.
“When I’d hear the shuffle of her feet, I knew that Barbara was after me,” she recalls. “It would get faster. Oh my God — she’s coming! Based on the speed of the shuffle, I would hide or get on the phone.”
Still, she admits to feeling sympathetic for the longtime host.
“Look at what Barbara did to me. I had zero hard feelings,” she says. “I loved her like a grandma. She didn’t know any better.”
McCarthy has been open about her difficult time with Walters on the ABC show in the past, most recently during a December 2018 appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. On the show, host Andy Cohen said McCarthy once “saved my a—” after Walters “ripped me a new one” when he was cohosting The View.
“Welcome to my every day there,” McCarthy said with a laugh.
“Jenny put her hand on my leg and she was like, ‘This will pass. It’s okay,'” Cohen recalled.
“I knew it was coming,” McCarthy said. “Before she ripped you a new a—hole, I put my hand on your knee and I go, ‘It’s okay.’ And then she started yelling at you and I was like, ‘Don’t worry.’ I knew.”
Walters started her TV career was a writer and researcher on the Today show in 1961, quickly working her way up from a soft-news “Today Girl” to a celebrated interviewer, becoming the NBC show’s first female co-host in 1974. She moved to ABC and launched the female-centric View in 1997 and has long been open about facing sexism in her career.
“The so-called hard news, a woman couldn’t do it. The audience wouldn’t accept her voice,” Walters said in a 2015 Oprah’s Master Class video. “She couldn’t go into the war zones, she couldn’t ask the tough questions.”
So, Walters said, she refused to back down.
“Some people admired it. Others said, ‘She’s rude,'” Walters said. “On the one hand, it made me more valuable; on the other hand, I got the reputation as being a pushy cookie. ‘There goes that pushy cookie.'”
The View airs weekdays (11 a.m. ET) on ABC.