The drama of the past several days over whether co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck was getting the boot from “The View” has been criticized by TV observers as a lame publicity stunt, with one TV critic comparing the show’s treatment of its lone conservative political voice to the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
Linda Stasi writes in the New York Post: “What-the-hell was ABC thinking when they decided to torture Elisabeth Hasselbeck for three long days without relief? I’m talking about the extended — and in retrospect, embarrassingly amateurish — publicity stunt they pulled by refusing all weekend to address the erroneous Us Weekly report that Hasselbeck was getting canned from ‘The View’ because of her views.”
TVWeek reported previously on the Us story, along with Monday morning’s announcement on the show by Barbara Walters that there was no truth to the report. The original Us report, which ran March 8, quoted an unnamed source saying: "The viewers they polled all said [Hasselbeck] was too extreme and right wing. People did not watch the show because of Elisabeth. So they told her [Thursday, March 7] her contract would not be renewed."
Stasi writes in the Post that the logic behind that statement is faulty: “In fact, it’s her outspoken right-wing views versus the other strong women who lean way in the other direction that add fuel to the fire — and heat up the ratings. No, I don’t agree with her opinions, but I applaud her ability to raise her voice for her side. It makes for good TV.”
Stasi adds: “Even though the story was completely false — according to Barbara Walters, who finally addressed the Hasselbeck humiliation on yesterday’s show — the ABC/Disney suits threw Elisabeth into the TV equivalent of Gitmo, without concern for life, limb or career longevity.”
The writer says the show waited too long to address whether Hasselbeck was leaving the show. “They didn’t address it because they wanted a cheap stunt to generate interest, which is so dishonest it cheapens the show,” she writes.
Stasi asks why execs at ABC didn’t talk about the issue late last week, when “the media was all over them like a bad smell.”
“And bad smell it is. In fact, ABC’s lie-by-omission has stunk up the place worse than Mickey’s mouse droppings,” she writes, adding: “Walters, in what actually seemed like an explanation of what ABC did to Hasselbeck all weekend, said, almost out of nowhere, ‘Believe me, she’s tougher than she looks.’
“Next week, ABC has planned water boarding for fun and ratings.”