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‘The View’ is on its deathbed—and it’s time to pull the plug
Whoopi Goldberg can’t stop defending Bill Cosby. And we need to stop defending her show.
Whoopi Goldberg just won’t stop defending Bill Cosby. Despite the famed sitcom dad’s now-public 2005 deposition, which gave credence to allegations that he drugged and sexually assaulted women, Goldberg has insisted on defending him.
“Innocent until proven guilty,” she argued on The View, because no court of law has yet to imprison Cosby for his behavior. By that logic, because he’s settled out of court or hasn’t been convicted, no one can say Cosby is guilty—even if 25 women alleged similar stories of abuse that span 40 years of reported wrongdoing. And that’s despite his own words, a decade later, ultimately convicting him in the court of public opinion.
As John Oliver highlighted on the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, Goldberg doesn’t only have a Cosby problem. In a clip mashup that’s sent shockwaves across social media, Oliver reminded everyone that Goldberg has been defending abusive men for years, using The View as her platform.
Despite public knowledge of violent, or even bigoted behavior from men like Cosby, Roman Polanski, Ray Rice, Mel Gibson, and others, she chalks up public outrage to “haters,” or questions whether the public really knows what happened. This is despite leaked phone calls, video tapes, or court documents; in the case of Chris Brown, she still defended him after the shocking photo of Rihanna after his 2009 attack went viral.
Goldberg remains a comedic legend, a status she earned; no one can take that away. But between her repeated defense of abusive men, the show’s denialism on issues of race, an ever revolving door of co-panelists, and relatively lackluster ratings since Barbara Walters retired—maybe it’s time to face the unthinkable.
The View, as we knew it, faded a long time ago. And it’s time to put the show to pasture.
Make no mistake, this isn’t a call to completely censor Whoopi Goldberg or the controversial opinions expressed on the show. As a cultural commentator, she should be striving to find ways to challenge our perspectives, especially when Internet uproar gets mired in reactionary jabs at public figures getting into trouble.
However, there’s a big difference between encouraging nuance and outright dismissing or enabling behavior that’s not only annoying or cavalier—but also harms other people in tangible ways.
It’s not just a matter of Goldberg’s antics, however. Ever since former Cosby Show and That’s So Raven star Raven-Symoné made her way onto the show’s panel this year, eventually becoming a series regular, what was once an otherwise pleasant show became more stilted and disjointed than ever before.
Raven’s not only called out Beyoncé and other female pop stars for not wearing enough clothes on stage, she also has a tendency—like Whoopi Goldberg—to casually deny racism even when it’s glaringly obvious. Both of them largely dismissed any racial implications in the discussions about Rachel Dolezal, and Raven even defended a Univision anchor claiming that first lady Michelle Obama looks like an ape—which recalls racial stereotypes of black people as animalistic, savage and ugly.
Some comments are rude, some are disrespectful, and some are racist. Try to not exchange one for the other.
— Raven-Symonè (@ravensymone) March 18, 2015
My opinion/comments arn’t based off race, that doesn’t mean i’m trying to be a different race all together. I love OUR history, family….
— Raven-Symonè (@ravensymone) March 18, 2015
We have Irish Culture, African Culture, Asian Culture, Indian Culture Many more running through the veins of AMERICA! Come on yung peeps
— Raven-Symonè (@ravensymone) March 18, 2015
Raven-Symoné was added to the show as part of its ongoing quest to find the right mix of co-panelists to make the topical talkfest one worth watching. Together, for six seasons spanning the years 2007 and 2013, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Joy Behar, Goldberg, Walters, and Sherri Shepherd were a formidable lineup. Since its heyday, the show hasn’t managed to fill an otherwise unimaginable void.
Months before Walters took a final bow, Elisabeth Hasselbeck (who barely anyone missed) fled to the open arms of Fox News, with comedian and co-panelist Joy Behar following suit. According to reports, the two were pushed out in order to “shake things up,” with market research allegedly showing that viewers thought Hasselbeck was too conservative and off putting.
Although Jenny McCarthy was hired to fill the void, her stint only lasted the duration of Walter’s 17th and final season on the show. Shortly after Walters left, Shepherd declared that—as a Christian woman who believes in the number seven as a sign of God’s completion—her seventh year with the show would be her last. With Walters, McCarthy and Shepherd all departing, the show entered its 18th season with Goldberg as the sole permanent panelist remaining.
Even after they tried bringing back the infamous View alum Rosie O’Donnell back on the panel, she Whoopi, and network executives reportedly butted heads (again), giving way to O’Donnell’s departure in February. And despite Rosie Perez being the show’s only saving grace during discussions of racism—even to the point of sparring with Goldberg and Raven—news of Perez leaving the panel broke in early July.
Now, it’s just Whoopi Goldberg and Raven-Symoné. The two newest additions, Niccole Wallace and Michelle Collins, aren’t exactly household names. So far, neither of them have made any waves on the show, and Variety reports that Wallace’s contract is on the line.
Writing at Mediaite in September, Eddie Scarry cited the words of the New York Times’s Alessandra Stanley as indicative of Wallace’s place on the panel: “Ms. Wallace knows plenty and prefers to keep her feelings to herself. That’s a good strategy for a political strategist, but it’s not the strategy that made The View a hit.”
The piss-poor quality of the show isn’t lost on viewers either, if ratings are any indication. As Deadline reported in March, the floundering ABC show was overtaken by CBS’s The Talk—in both total viewers and women aged 18 to 49—for the first time in its five-year run, after accomplishing a number of other notable feats just prior. And for the second quarter of 2015, Variety reports that The Talk solidly beat The View in ratings.
Variety senior editor Rick Kissel writes, “While there’s been plenty of upheaval in the show’s hosting ranks the last two years, The Talk has largely avoided significant changeover and seems to have benefited as a result.”
As ABC scrambles to stabilize the situation over at The View, the current composition of the panel and the decline in ratings signals that it’s do-or-die time for a show that’s run for almost 20 years. It’d be a shame to see a show that’s become a cultural staple continue wallowing in the gutter, when it could’ve very well ended on a high note with Walters’s exit.
If network executives can’t make the panel chemistry work, and do so soon, they’ll be forced to reckon with the inevitable, looming demise of the show—one that devoted viewers either witness with a cringe, or they’ve already voted with their remote and switched to The Talk.
One thing remains clear, though: The View isn’t so good from over here. And it hasn’t been for quite some time.
Correction 11:39pm: An earlier version of this article misidentified the title of John Oliver’s HBO show. It is Last Week Tonight.
Derrick Clifton is the Deputy Opinion Editor for the Daily Dot and a New York-based journalist and speaker, primarily covering issues of identity, culture and politics.
Screengrab via RandomClips2008/YouTube
Derrick Clifton is an identity and culture reporter and columnist. His work has appeared on NBC News, the Guardian, Vox, the Root, Quartz, MSNBC, HLN, and Mic. He is the communications manager for ProPublica Illinois.