No Such Nonsense

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Monday, May 28, 2007

The View from Here

The video footage is, in fact awkwardly compelling. If you haven't seen the verbal smackdown between Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck that led Rosie to leave the show several weeks early, you should check it out. It's eight or nine minutes of squirm-inducing, friendship-ending bitterness.

Rosie and Elisabeth have been at odds for months - the liberal lesbian feminist versus the very conservative Christian cupcake. They've argued over gun control, over President Bush, over all the things that conservatives and democrats argue over. It's all about good TV, after all. So what's behind the big blow-up - the one that ended Rosie's controversial but ratings-booting tenure on The View?

Well, as with so many friendship-ending feuds, it all comes down to whether your friend has your back or not.

Here's the back story: It actually started on Monday when O'Donnell said this:

“655,000 Iraqi civilians have died. Who are the terrorists?”

Conservative pundits pounced, arguing that O'Donnell was calling the American troops in Iraq terrorists. When asked about it, Elisabeth deflected questions back to O'Donnell rather than simply say that O'Donnell meant no such thing - that it was clearly the administration that O'Donnell was condemning.

And the fact is, whether O'Donnell did or did not mean to imply that US troops are terrorists, the implication was not an absurd one to draw. She may have been throwing grenades at Bush and his buddies, but some shrapnel would inevitably hit those people actually serving overseas. It may not has been as ill-advised as Bill Maher essentially calling the American military cowards relative to suicide bombers, but Rosie can't have been surprised that the Fox Newsies would be all over her.

And it seems like you can make a perfectly rational argument for Hasselbeck to stay out of the fray; they weren't her words, it wasn't her fight, and commenting could just add fuel to the fire. But O'Donnell clearly expected more. A spirited defence, a sign of support, something that would suggest Hasselbeck supported O'Donnell's right to speak her mind. Yet even when pressed on Wednesday's show, Hasselbeck could not or would not say what O'Donnell wanted to hear. Perhaps she really does think O'Donnell believes the troops are terrorists. Perhaps she really is a coward. Certainly, she didn't want to associated with the comment in any way.

Which is understandable for a TV personality. For a co-worker. But for a friend, which O'Donnell and Hasselbeck had insisted they were? It's just about not caring enough - about not having her back - about not being a friend after all.

Oh well. At least Elisabeth still has her conservative Christian cred, her third-string QB husband and 3 or 4 fans from her Survivor days. Who needs friends when you have all that?


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