It's Rosie O'Donnell vs. Kelly Ripa in...'Claygate'!

143613__clay_lKelly Ripa knows daytime drama, and not just from her former stint on All My Children. Over the last couple days, she’s had a public spat with former American Idol star Clay Aiken, and had to defend herself against loudmouth accusations of homophobia by Rosie O’Donnell. Now, before I tell you why I think O’Donnell owes Ripa an equally loud apology, let me get everybody up to date with YouTube footage of all four steps of the commotion. (Thanks, TV Tattle, for the links!) Brace yourselves; there’s a lot to digest.

1) On Friday’s Live With Regis and Kelly, Aiken served as substitute cohost, and apparently didn’t hit it off with Ripa. Things culminated midway through their interview with Dancing With the Stars champs Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke, when Aiken clamped his hand over Ripa’s chatty mouth (pictured, right) so he could ask a not-particularly-pertinent question. A clearly displeased Ripa told him his paw-to-lips interception was a no-no, then tried to diffuse the tension (sort of) by joking about his hand, "I don’t know where that’s been, honey!"

2) On Monday’s Live, a still-peeved Ripa explained to Philbin that she was put off by Aiken’s "lack of respect." In other words, "you don’t put your hands over somebody’s face and mouth when they’re conducting an interview — even if it’s for a laugh." Fair enough, right?

3) Not according to O’Donnell. This morning on The View, she replayed Ripa’s "I don’t know where that’s been, honey!" remark, and responded thusly: "Listen, to me, that’s a homophobic remark. If that was a straight man, if that was a cute man, if that was a guy that she didn’t question his sexuality, she would’ve said a different thing. I was offended by that." Guest host Sherri Shepherd, who holds her own against O’Donnell’s steamroller technique with wit and class (and deserves a permanent spot in the seat), argued the rather logical point that no one likes a stranger’s hand over one’s mouth. (Unless, I dunno, maybe you’re in a German brothel?)

4) Ripa, clearly not having any of it, called in to The View to defend herself on air."What you said is downright outrageous," she told O’Donnell, arguingthat Aiken never would have put his hand over a male cohost’s mouth,but somehow thought it was okay to do it to a woman. "You have to bemore responsible," she chided O’Donnell, regarding her accusations ofhomophobia. Rosie, for her part, refused to back down. "From where Isit as a gay person in the world, that’s how it came off to me," shesaid, then proceeded to defend Aiken as a "kid" who "shot tosuperstardom," neglecting to mention the fact that he’s 28 years old,and has had well over three years in the limelight since being namedrunner-up on Idol‘s second season. "I’ve been on this show forthree months I haven’t said one thing is homophobic." Well, now youdid, Ro, and you were 10 plates of wrong.

As I see it, Aiken has never publicly said he’s gay — and if that’sthe stance he’s going with, I don’t see exactly where O’Donnell gets toaccuse Ripa of making a homophobic remark about him in the first place.Yet even putting aside the singer’s sexual orientation, how canO’Donnell feel comfortable saying, for example, that Ripa would’veallowed Mario Lopez to physically stifle her comments, but not Aiken? Imean, I could speculate that Ripa would probably object to any manpulling such a stunt on air, but that would just be speculation — sameas O’Donnell. Therefore, not knowing the intent of Ripa’s comments –Hands are germy? Hands that don’t let me dominate the conversation aregermy? Gay hands are germy? — O’Donnell should’ve pulled anAiken and stifled none other than herself. After all, words have power.And as an activist lesbian with a daily audience of millions ofviewers, O’Donnell has a responsibility to choose her words with care.Instead, today, she came off as the girl who cried "homophobia!," andnext time around, this gay male viewer, for one, is far more likely toignore her.

What’s your opinion of Claygate? And do you think any of the participants should or will offer an apology?

Comments (437 total) Add your comment
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  • Ellipsian

    I’m all for crying “Homophobe!” when appropriate (or, ahem, “Racist!”, Michael Richards) but Rosie has taken this way too far. I have love for you, Rosie, and as a gay man, I appreciate many of the things you do, but for the love of all that is rainbow-colored, please call Clay and invite him to cover your mouth.

  • ceej

    Rosie is seriously trippin’. What Clay did to Kelly was rude and uncouth. And Kelly remark was completely benign. Why would Rosie instantly assume that when someone says “I don’t know where your hand have been” it’s a demeaning remark against gays? What does him being gay (maybe?) have to do with whether or not he has hands clean enough to put on someone else’s mouth? As far as I can tell, durthy hands come in all shapes, races, religions, and sexual orientations. And if Kelly *had* said that to Mario Lopez, it would have been just as funny.

  • Doug

    I love Rosie…I TiVo “The View” everyday because of her and consider it to be the funniest show on TV…but she was way off base. You would have to know the real intent of such a semi-humorous and harmless comment, such as Kelly made, to cry out “homophobe”, and I never got that from the comment Kelly made. Also, Rosie basically outed Clay with her comments. No, you don’t have to be gay to have homophobic comments thrown at you, but the words Rosie chose to explain her “view” were poorly chosen and I think there’ll be an apology on tomorrow’s show (and a claim of jetlag). Is there a wing at Promises for that particular ailment?

  • JKS

    Often I don’t agree with you, but you’re right on this one. Rosie, as usual, needs to shut the f*** up.

  • Chris

    It’s like the story “The Boy Who Cried Woof.” Next time Rosie cries “homophobe,” people will ignore it.

  • Maeve

    First of all, I’d like to point out that Kelly Ripa has been in this business for quite some time and has hosted Live for like 5 years (?) and has never had a beef with anyone. To piss off Kelly Ripa you have to try really, really hard. So if Clay Aiken managed to do it, he deserved Kelly’s response.
    I have always liked Rosie O’Donnell but to declare that Kelly’s comments were homophobic is to insinuate that Kelly herself is homophobic. And when Kelly confronted her on it, Rosie said “well that’s my view,” which is like saying it’s fair to throw about these accusations. How dare Rosie suggest Kelly is homophobic, which is like calling someone a racist or anti-Semite? Rosie needs to apologize promptly.

  • Jack

    What is Rosie thinking here? A non-out celebrity acts like an idiot for an hour, and criticism of him is homophobic? I watched the show Friday, and frankly didn’t make that big of a deal about the hand thing, probably because I couldn’t believe how he’d acted towards that point. Was a truly bizarre hour of morning television. As I watched the host chat, I just wondered if Clay could’ve acted more cringe-worthy if he had tried. Maybe it says something bad about me as a gay man, but all I could think was, “What a queen.”
    Did I think it was odd that Kelly called him out on Monday? Kinda. But for Rosie to say it rang of homophobia is sooooo far out of bounds. You can’t toss accusations of bigotry around when there’s no evidence to support it. You don’t have to watch alot of Kelly to know that she’s a friend of the gays. I’m glad that she called to defend herself and stuck to her guns. This clearly is not a Michael Richards situation.

  • Scott

    Kelly Ripa has never struck me as homophobic and it is totally inappropriate for Rosie to make such a claim, especially when it involves a person who has never publicly said he was gay (regardless of what the consensus believes). I think Rosie’s assumption that Kelly thought Clay’s hands were “dirty” because he’s a gay man says more about Rosie’s perceptions than Kelly’s.
    And after watching the clip on youtube, I applaud Kelly being able to lighten up what was obviously an incredibly awkward situation. Clay should be the one apologizing to Kelly for making such an immature, unprofessional move. And if Clay can’t manage to speak up loud enough to ask a stupid question during an interview, maybe he shouldn’t accept offer to be a guest host.
    P.S. You go Sherri Shepard!!!

  • Rod

    First, Clay Aiken was a guest co-host and should have acted more professionally. Even if he felt he couldn’t get a word-in on the conversation the fact of the matter is his name is nowhere in the title “Life With Regis and Kelly”. Anyone who watched the show (as I did) should have perceived that Kelly was pissed off and simply didn’t find his behavior amusing. She gave off no sign of homophobia, and its shameful that Rosie felt the need to get involved. Its shameful because Clay hasn’t even come out to say he’s gay—and Rosie is jumping on branding bandwagon! Get some class Rosie.

  • meredith

    Its too bad that Clay Aiken couldn’t hold his own on “Live.” I really enjoyed him on American Idol and always hoped that he’d do well. It is clear that he felt that Kelly was dominating him (hello! its her job) during the interview. If you look closely, he is trying to get a word in, but she is just spouting out the questions quicker. He didn’t know how to handle it, so he did what he did. Kelly is great, but slightly a diva and couldn’t take it. Poor Regis didn’t know what to say, but I think he handled himself very well. Rosie is just wrong and I’m glad that Kelly called the show and said her piece.

  • Marcus

    Right on, Slezak!

  • Nomers

    I know it’s been a few years, but I still remember the whole Tom Selleck incident, and this is just further proof that Rosie O’Donnell has no business being on TV. She needs to SHUT UP!

  • Craig

    I hate the use of the word “homophobic” just because someone disapproves of the gay lifestyle. If someone disapproves of the Christian lifestyle it is not called “Christphobic.” It is called an opinion.

  • Martha

    Rosie needs to back off on the “homophobe” label, before someone starts lobbing “misogynist” right back at her. Defending the rude, crass actions of a person just because they might be gay smacks of an overly developed PC gene…and is also morally wrong.

  • Robert

    I love Rosie and I love Kelly so my opinion should be totally unbiased. Kelly was right about “reprimanding” Clay about his hand over her mouth. Com’n, who does that? That is just plain rude!! Rosie was totally wrong on calling Kelly an homophobe. End of the story! If we are splitting heirs and want to call someone an homophone, that would be Clay who still astonishingly claims to be straight! Like he is ashamed to admit that he is gay. That, to me, is homophobic!! Peace!!

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