Why I'm really pissed at Rosie for fleeing 'The View'

View_lOf course, the one week I take vacation, all hell breaks loose on The View. Rosie vs. Elisabeth! Left vs. right! Young vs. old! Fat lesbians vs. pretty Christians! Could there be a battle that better sums up where we’re at as a culture? While the subject has admittedly been talked to death already, I decided to check in on the sinking ship this morning and use it as an excuse to get some stuff off my chest. What I found was a pretty stinkin’ dull hour about dog weddings and Jimmy Fallon’s blandly peacenik iTunes track, with the most heated conversation involving whether or not it was morally wrong of the women to show a photo of an intoxicated Lindsay Lohan that appeared on the covers of today’s tabloids. (I loved Barbara Walters’ obvious confusion and remorse about what the paparazzi were doing to Linds, demonstrated by her shaky-yet-iron grip on the copy of the New York Post she was holding up at the time.)

So anyway, if you’re interested, my musings on what Ro’s departure means for the state of political dialogue in this country can be found after the jump. If you’re not, just skip ahead to the comments and discuss what’s creepier: Talking about porn with Baba Wawa, or guest host Whoopi Goldberg hijacking a discussion of porn by explaining that she watches it so she can learn about the infantilization of women via body waxing?

Okay, here’s the deal: I’ve been watching The View for 10 years now with as much regularity as I can muster for any morning show (with the exception of The Price is Right), and I’ve always enjoyed the banter around the table. Being a terrible egomaniac, I’ve also always envisioned what I’d do if I was given a chair. (Not that I ever would be, as "chunky blond left-wing Texan tomboy" is not a minority slot that needs filling.) Then Rosie showed up, and did… exactly what I would have. She was unrelenting, simultaneously bullying and fun, crabby and warm, brilliant with a tendency to gnaw on her own foot. She shared my point of view, and pushed the envelope of what one can say on a middlebrow show that caters to middlebrow women living in the middle of a country whose political middle sometimes has been besieged by shouting yahoos on both ends of the spectrum. Even more amazing: She fit right in. Rosie’s commentary, while intelligent and stubborn and just a little yahoo-ish, was more often than not greeted by applause from the studio audience. The ratings went up. To my knowledge, the show lost no advertisers. And instead of sticking to the niche shows that we know we already agree with (The Daily Show, The O’Reilly Factor, what have you), finally we could all tune in to something that was guaranteed to present a challenging perspective, every single day, no matter what side we were on.

It was a profound shift that I don’t think anyone expected. Here was this dippy little kaffeeklatsch, suddenly transformed into a place to hear real, current, vivid political discussions — on the war, the administration, global warming, whatevs — in which all personalities were represented. You know what it’s like when you talk politics with your friends and family? This was that! Rosie was the left-wing skeptic who occasionally veered off into conspiracy theories. Hasselbeck proclaimed her conservative faith while occasionally sounding hopelessly naive. Joy Behar tried to keep it light, but occasionally found a strong voice beyond her wisecracks. Walters, the reporter/mom, struggled to stay unbiased and occasionally scolded. The string of sorry little guest hosts du jour usually tried to crawl under the table, strangers at the world’s most awkward Thanksgiving. No matter your political leanings, there was always someone to root for.

I guess it was hopelessly naive of me to expect the fun could last. But what gets me is how it ended. Not, as many expected, with the interference of paranoid ABC execs or the public psychological dismembering of Hasselbeck — who has grown so much over the last year I daresay her newfound cojones may be O’Donnell’s biggest legacy — but with Rosie picking up her Koosh ball and going home. And that, Pop Watchers, is incredibly disappointing.

Because Rosie, let’s face it, did make a very divisive statement, one of countless divisive statements she’s made in her career. Yet for whatever reason, this time she seemed shocked by the consequences. Dude, you cannot say that if 655,000 Iraqis have died since the U.S. invasion, then "who are the terrorists?", and not expect a certain segment of the population to put their screaming hats on. If you’re going to make comments like that — and I’m thrilled she did, I’m thrilled to have that perspective out there, I’m thrilled to have something real to think about, instead of stupid, sad, slumped-over Lindsay Lohan again and again and again — you have to be prepared for the people in the screaming hats, and you have to absorb it, and you have to press on. You cannot act like a wounded teenager. To paraphrase Hasselbeck, this is not some Donald Trump spat we are talking about. This is real. But for all the societal good she did in her almost-year on The View, and for all the good she’s done before — and I’m sure will continue to do after — this flare-up, Rosie backed down from that reality. She didn’t explain her perspective, she didn’t continue the dialogue, she just got tired, and she left.

So since I know she putters about the Internets from time to time, this is my plea to Rosie to reconsider this whole thing. (Barbara feels the same way.) Look, Ro, I know you’re frustrated, and I can hardly imagine how taxing it has to be to go through life with so much negativity pointed at you and your family, day in and day out. (Hell, I get depressed every time someone accuses me of being a sucky Lost recapper; I don’t know what I’d do if there were entire multimedia empires calling for my head.) But to walk away from this now means the shouters — the people who hear a dissenting opinion and counter it with cries of "SHUT UP FAT LESBIAN" — have triumphed. It’s a victory for everyone on the extremes of both ends, the ones who believe that there can’t be a civilized dialogue in this countrycertainly not one between a bunch of women, my God — and all that matters is who yells louder. Maybe you got scared, Rosie, because you saw yourself on a split-screen and realized you were in danger of becoming part of the problem — but if you have the self-awareness to realize that, then I guarantee you are already 99 percent ahead of the game.

And let’s not forget the people who lose, yet again, are the people in the middle: anyone who, for not quite a year, could turn on the TV and find a tiny group of the most unexpected people having a chat about the crummy situations in the world today… and imagine themselves, no matter what they believe, sitting at the table, participating in the discussion. Maybe I’m giving this show way more credit than it deserves, but there was something utopian about it, don’t you think? In their silly, sunny, occasionally under-informed but always well-meaning way, the ladies of The View co-opted the frustratingly stagnant us-against-them political mindset of this country and made it waver, just a little. You could almost feel things start to change for the better, become more inclusive… couldn’t you?

Argh. I’m afraid this is becoming tiresome. I’ve really got to start a newsletter or something. Anyway. Use the comments to tell me the following: Do you think The View has the potential to carry on in the same vein sans Rosie? Can Joy Behar hold her own on the left or will she go back to delivering Catskills comedy gold? Are you like me in strangely respecting Hasselbeck’s newfound strength? Is there a show out there that I don’t know about that has the same egalitarian vibe? And if you got a chair at that table, what would you use it to say?


Comments (121 total) Add your comment
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  • Victor

    They should just cancel the whole show.. nuff said!

  • Tina

    While I tend to lean more towards the political right, rather than the left, I agree wholeheartedly with your statement. The whole thing played more liked a high school fight rather than two adult women. Elizabeth does not need to stand up for Rosie against people who were rightfully offended by her statement. Maybe Rosie realized that she did, in fact, cross a line in her comment and needed to apologize and explain. Elizabeth was right to point out that this was more than a low-brow fight with Trump. Rosie offended real people, many of whom loved her when she was on her own show. Instead of apologizing, or clarifying, and fighting for her voice, she retreated. Now she’ll comment from the safety of her blog, where she can sound like an unintelligent moron because of her lack of grammar and spelling.

  • Sherr

    Elizabeth strength? she is a loudmouth that just says republican talking points, she is rude and interrupts constantly. I think too many people are not really watching The View or they would not be on Elizabeths side

  • Sher

    Elizabeth strength? she is a loudmouth that just says republican talking points, she is rude and interrupts constantly. I think too many people are not really watching The View or they would not be on Elizabeths side

  • Stephen

    The show will die if they stick some wise-cracking idiot (yes you Sherry Shepherd) there and not someone who will stir the melting pot. (Roseanne, Joan Rivers, Wanda Sykes). I never watched the show until this season. To me, the fight was not about the war at all, but rather about friendship.. Rosie felt betrayed by Elizabeth for not defending her, while Elizabeth felt it was Rosie who should do the defending. WHo knows. It got ugly, and over a misunderstanding. I’m holding out for the show, because Bob Barker is leaving too, and Rachael Ray’s talk show sucks. If something doesn’t happen soon, I just may be forced to go out and et a life. (No, I’m not dissing Whitney. I agree with her 100%).

  • kelly

    I agree with you, Whitney. Lord knows this country needs all the real public political discourse it can get (an by “discourse” I don’t mean 24-Hour News Outlet talking heads who recite political talking points for an hour to people who already agree with them). The best thing about “Rosie’s View” was that when they did engage in discussions, they seemed raw and passionate and a little flawed, much like how real people have real debates at home. They somehow became more than just talking heads- they were actual people who spoke as if they were sitting in your living room, drinking coffee and getting upset with the events in the world they saw unfolding around them.

  • Peggy O

    Rosie , I think, was maybe right to feel betrayed but this is the territory that comes with being someone that says things so people will think harder about the world and what is happening in it! I wish she would have stayed and stood up for herself and point of view.. Leaving was just not right! Meanwhile Elizabeth can be annoying at times but there has to be someone there to balance that properly… Rosie was it … now let’s just wait and see what other woman will be the sacrificial lamb of the view again!

  • Lindsay

    I’m devastated! First “Gilmore Girls” goes, then my beloved “Veronica Mars”, and less than a week later, I’ve lost the last sometimes flawed, sometimes absurd, but always witty and assertive woman that was left on TV. Rosie and all the fire she brought to “The View” will be missed. My 11:00-11:30am coffee break won’t be the same without her.

  • kelly

    Also, the way this played out is a sad commentary on feminism in this modern age. I guess this perpetuates the “silly, irrational, over-emotional woman” stereotype. I don’t agree with it whatsoever (as I am a feminist myself), but am upset that intelligent women in the public eye can’t just be steadfast in their beliefs and not let petty personal arguments and hurt feelings get in the way of both their careers and their friendships. I hope they weren’t role models for the next generation of strong, opinionated women.

  • Nancy

    I agree with you whole-heartedly, Whitney, and welcome back. I am disappointed that Rosie left the way she did, and I believe the sad ending is of her creation. Ro resorted to name-calling many times this season (still love her, tho). It appears to me she lacks perspective on her own role in the fracas. While EH’s delivery was imperfect, I thought she was right on point in this case. It was like Rosie was holding her emotionally hostage. I fall somewhere left of EH and right of Ro. I didn’t always agree with what everyone said, but I thought the conversation was important. I hope, hope, hope that dear old Barbara understands this and hires someone who has the guts to continue the conversation. I see this kind of conversation nowhere else in the media, although Bill Maher comes close. What would I talk about if I were on the panel? Same stuff. It’s the honesty and debate that is important.

  • kate

    I’ve watched The View off and on for years, but I tuned in when Rosie came on in hopes of watching a Ro/Star Jones cat fight. I held on for a few weeks, but eventually just tuned out. I got sick of listening to both Ro and Elisabeth spouting political talking points that snowballed into a shouting match for the whole table – and Ro had the loudest bark. I always felt EH got assertive because she was sick of being bullied, and I was surprised to find that most people don’t feel the same way. I agree that the dialogue of real women, flawed arguements and all, is one of the best and most real things about the View, but I always felt that adding Ro stacked the side for the left. The show already had a left-leaning comedian in Joy. EH became the underdog who started to bite back. Plus, I felt that quite a few of the comments Ro added were dangerously incorrect. I’m not totally thrilled to see her go, but I am eager to hear of her replacement.

  • aa

    where ya been whitney? i agree with you a thousand percent. i started watching a few months ago and i loved hearing voices i disagreed with almost more than my own point of view. there are people in my life where we cannot broach certain subjects for fear of the relationships being over; that’s a sad commentary on where we are as a country. how are we going to get anywhere if we can’t listen to eachother without demonizing the other side or name calling. i’ll miss the rosie/elizabeth era of the view and hope to see it live on elsewhere.

  • Anonymous

    I’m just tired of people putting the word “at” after their verbs. The proper grammar is “where we are as a culture”, not “where we’re at as a culture.”
    My own personal war with “professional” writers, I suppose.

  • oh for crying out loud

    anonymous, is it not possible to make your point without the unnecesarry personal dig at the writer?

  • Tim Lade

    Whitney,
    I don’t have much to say because I tend to agree with pretty much everything you have to say…but I have missed your writing. It is exactly the type of writing I want to do and I get dissapointed when I fail to see your by line. So please keep writing and share your view!

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