It feels like another lifetime ago when conservative blowhard Elisabeth Hasselbeck was still on The View, happily firing off ill-informed opinions on everything from birth control to taxes. But this week, audio surfaced of a 2006 attempt to quit mid-show, and we are writing it up in The A.V. fucking Club.
Listening to the footage, you could initially be forgiven for thinking, “Right on, that’s exactly what I’ve wanted to say when quitting a shitty job in the past.” But then you learn the context of her outburst, and you’re reminded we’re talking about Elisabeth fucking Hasselbeck. Variety reports the audio clip is supporting an excerpt from the new behind-the-scenes book Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story Of The View, which details an August 2, 2006 taping of the show in which Hasselbeck completely loses it after being told to calm down by Barbara Walters.
The hosts were discussing the always-genteel topic of birth control, specifically the FDA’s proposal to make the morning-after pill available over the counter. Hasselbeck proceeded to get extremely agitated, gesticulating wildly, and saying extremely dumb things such as taking the pill is “the same thing as birthing a baby and leaving it out in the street,” which, hoo boy, take a health-ed class. After making it very difficult for anyone to respond with anything as untoward as facts, Barbara Walters then stepped in right before the commercial break, cutting Hasselbeck off and saying, very calmly, “Could you stop now? ...We have to go on and we have to learn how to discuss these things in some sort of rational way.”
The idea of rationality was apparently too much for Hasselbeck (unsurprising, given her subsequent stint as a Fox & Friends co-host), who, as we now know from enjoying the following audio clip, tore up her notecards and stormed off in a rage-quit. “Fuck that!” Hasselbeck screams, while those of us in 2019 savor the f-bomb dropping from the mouth of this outspoken right-wing follower of Christ. “I’m not going to sit there and get reprimanded on the air. It’s not ok to sit there and get reprimanded on the air.” Fellow host Joy Behar tries to calm her down, in the soothing and placating tones one might use with a child, if that child were swearing up a storm and quitting your daytime debate show mid-program because the lead host had to remind her other people are allowed to talk, too.
“What the fuck! I don’t even swear,” Hasselbeck continues, swearing. “I’m not going back. I can’t do the show like this....Goodbye! I’m off.” She then delivers one of the greatest kiss-off lines before slamming the door in Behar’s face and rushing to her dressing room. “Write about that in The New York fucking Post!” Sadly, she did not proceed to slip on a banana peel and then fall face-first into a pie cooling on old Mrs. Winterbottom’s window sill, but it’s still a solid entry in the official People Behaving Like Cartoons Compendium.
Walters’ reaction to the news is also very good: “Well, that’s ridiculous.”
Producers were subsequently able to get Hasselbeck to return by appealing to her sense of professionalism, and onscreen viewers were treated to what looked like a heartfelt moment of succor between Walters and a woman who got a job talking about hot-button issues to America because she came in fourth place on Survivor. (Let us never forget, Anderson Cooper spent two seasons hosting reality-TV junker The Mole.) Now, we know better, and can enjoy the schadenfreude of hearing someone who pretends to be superior to such coarseness curse like a sailor.
Hasselbeck responded to the release of the audio clip with an Instagram post explaining why she’s accepted her past and is now filled with the awesome power of the Almighty. “It was a battle—but not of the flesh. I used fighting words because I believe that God decides the value of the lives of babies,” says someone who was arguing against a pill that prevents the conception of said babies or their value. She goes on to talk about the power of God, how he fights the battle, not her, and how she’s been transformed by him, ending with a reasonably warm point about she can now be peaceful and caring with people who disagree with her about this. “My new word that begins with the letter F: FAITHFUL,” she concludes, the Sesame Street-like benediction ending with, “Because that is who GOD IS.”
Left unmentioned in all this are the actions of the producers, coddling and reassuring Hasselbeck all along that everything she said was right, Walters and her crazy notions of being reasonable were wrong, and the show must go on. Even though they’re just doing their jobs and saying whatever they needed to in order to get her back in front of the camera, we think The New York fucking Post would agree with us that Hasselbeck not returning would’ve made for far more compelling TV.