Back in March, O’Donnell made headlines when she revealed in Ramin Setoodeh’s tell-all book that she “loved” and had “a little bit of a crush” on Hasselbeck while they worked together on the ABC daytime talk show — and that there were “underlying lesbian tones on both [of their] parts,” pointing to Hasselbeck’s time as MVP of a Division 1 softball team.
“There are not many, in my life, girls with such athletic talent on sports teams that are traditionally male that aren’t at least a little bit gay,” O’Donnell said in Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View.
Though O’Donnell stressed her crush wasn’t sexual, the admission earned a swift reaction from Hasselbeck, 42, who called O’Donnell’s words “disturbing” and “wrong.” Still, she insisted that she had forgiven O’Donnell and was “praying” for her.
“The truth is, what she said, if you took her words and replaced ‘Rosie’ for ‘Ronald,’ there would be an objectification of women in the workplace,” Hasselbeck said during a visit to Fox & Friends in March. “Whether you’re a man or whether you’re a woman, [if] you’re objectifying women in the workplace, it’s wrong.”
But O’Donnell, 57, now says that Hasselbeck’s response was embellished. Asked by Cohen Monday night if the Republican pundit had taken her words out of context, O’Donnell said, “Yes!”
“Come on, she knows, too,” O’Donnell added. “That’s the thing. She knows. She knows exactly what I’m talking about.”
O’Donnell first joined The View in 2006 and left the show in May 2007 — one month before she had been scheduled to leave when her contract expired — after an explosive on-air confrontation with Hasselbeck about the Iraq War. (She would later rejoin the show, and departed once again in February 2015.)
The mother of five told Setoodeh in his book that while she was hurt by her argument with Hasselbeck, she was mostly pained that Hasselbeck didn’t defend her from conservative critics.
“It felt like a lover breaking up,” said O’Donnell. “The fight that we had, to me as a gay woman, it felt like this: ‘You don’t love me as much as I love you.’ ‘I’ve taken care of you.’ ‘You have not.’ ‘How could you do that to me?’ ‘I didn’t do anything to you.’ “
Throughout their time together on The View, O’Donnell said she saw herself as a mentor of sorts to Hasselbeck. “I wanted to support, raise, elevate her, like she was the freshman star shortstop and I was the captain of the team,” O’Donnell said. “I was going to Scottie Pippen her. If I was Jordan, I was going to give her the ball and let her shoot… ‘I’m the senior. She’s the freshman. I’vee got a really good player on the freshman team, but I have to teach her how to loosen up.’ “
Hasselbeck, who served as the conservative voice on the panel before leaving the show in 2013, refused to chat with Setoodeh for the book but said on Fox & Friends that she wasn’t holding a grudge against O’Donnell.
“I totally forgive you, Rosie,” Hasselbeck said. “I really hope that we can be at peace and that we can both hold our beliefs in one hand and hold each other’s hand in the other and still have a relationship that’s at peace. But, more than that, just like I would pray for my friends, I hope that she has the peace of God. Because… Rosie O’Donnell is still seen and known and loved by God, and I hope that she feels that and I hope that she can find, ultimately, the peace. Even more than I want to be at peace with her, I hope she finds that peace because God wants that for her, too.”
On WWHL, O’Donnell also opened up about relationship with Whoopi Goldberg in the wake of the revelations she made about her in Ladies Who Punch. (O’Donnell told Setoodeth that the two clashed behind the scenes and that Goldberg was “as mean as anyone has ever been on television to me, personally, while I was sitting there.”)
“Believe it or not, we bumped into each other physically at the Megan Mullally concert at Café Carlyle [in May],” O’Donnell said. “We were very cordial and said hello. And I worked on a project with her for ABC since this whole [thing] occurred.”
“I’m always going to respect her, I’m always going to look up to her,” O’Donnell added. “She was somebody who was inspirational in my career. You like to keep those people in a place of reverence if you can, and that’s what I’m hoping to do.”
In May, Goldberg — who also refused to chat with Setoodeth — told Cohen on WWHL she hadn’t read the book.
“What happens for me at work is not their business,” she said. “I don’t like talking out of school and I don’t like other people talking out of school. Leave it there.”
Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen airs Sunday-Thursday (10 p.m. ET) on Bravo.