In Ramin Setoodeh’s new book Ladies Who Punch, Rosie O'Donnell opens up about tensions with her co-host Whoopi Goldberg upon returning to the daytime talk show in 2014

By Dana Rose Falcone
March 27, 2019 08:00 AM
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Rosie O’Donnell co-hosted The View for two seasons, with a seven-year gap between her stints.

Ramin Setoodeh’s new book Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View, alleges that Lisa Hackner, ABC’s executive vice president of daytime and syndication, told Whoopi Goldberg in 2014 that O’Donnell was getting rehired after Barbara Walters’ departure “to save the show.”

O’Donnell and Goldberg had clashed years earlier in 2009, when O’Donnell expressed her disagreement with Goldberg’s assertion that director Roman Polanski hadn’t committed “rape rape,” despite having pled guilty to statutorily raping then-13-year-old Samantha Geimer in 1979. Goldberg supposedly sent O’Donnell an “angry letter,” and O’Donnell says she responded diplomatically.

O’Donnell and Goldberg in September 2014.
Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty

“I’m sorry if that hurt your feelings,” O’Donnell wrote back to Goldberg, per Ladies Who Punch. “I have different feelings about it than you. And I stand up for what I believe, but I’ll never bet against you, Whoopi Goldberg.”

But when O’Donnell returned to The View and offered up contributions to the daytime talk show — like starting the morning meeting a half-hour earlier and covering the Bill Cosby rape allegations — the 57-year-old claims Goldberg shut down her ideas. And the tension played out on television, too.

“Some people would say, ‘What’s going on with you and Whoopi?’ “ O’Donnell recalls in the tell-all book. “I was like, ‘Are you watching the show? It’s pretty much right there.’ I have no desire for a public feud.”

Staffers noticed O’Donnell had been more “on edge” during her second time around on The View, the book reports, adding that she would even complain about Goldberg to celebrity guests.

RELATED VIDEO: Whoopi Goldberg Gets Into a Screaming Match with Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro on The View

“Whoopi Goldberg was as mean as anyone has ever been on television to me, personally—while I was sitting there,” O’Donnell told Setoodeh. “Worse than Fox News. The worst experience I’ve ever had on live television was interacting with her.”

O’Donnell admits, though, that she “revered” Goldberg before working with the Ghost star.

“She’s a minority, feminist, smart, funny, groundbreaking legend who is black in America,” O’Donnell says. “I’m never going to not have respect for Whoopi Goldberg. But that was a painful experience, personally and professionally.”

For more on The View, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday

Perry Hagopian

The mother of five exited The View for a second time in February 2015 after six months back on the show, citing her family and health reasons. Goldberg continues to serve as a co-host.

Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View is out April 2.