Whoopi Goldberg harkened back to the anticommunist “Red Scare” as she criticized Debra Messing and Eric McCormack on The View this week for pushing for the release of names of people attending a fundraiser for President Donald Trump in Beverly Hills, California.
On Friday Messing, 51, retweeted an article about the event published by The Hollywood Reporter and wrote, “Please print a list of all attendees please. The public has a right to know.”
She was following the lead of McCormack, 56, her Will & Grace costar who previously tweeted, “Hey, @THR, kindly report on everyone attending this event, so the rest of us can be clear about who we don’t wanna work with. Thx.”
Their requests, however, were slammed by Goldberg, 63, who argued on The View that such information would become a list that could be used to extreme ends. She said disclosing who Trump’s supporters were was similar to the mid-century Hollywood blacklist of suspected communists.
“Listen, the last time people did this people ended up killing themselves. This is not a good idea,” Goldberg said on Tuesday. “Your idea of who you don’t want to work with is your personal business. Do not encourage people to print out lists, because the next list that comes out, your name will be on [it] and then people will be coming after you.”
Later in the segment, co-host Sunny Hostin noted that information about who donates to political candidates is already public record — something echoed by McCormack in a social media post explaining his position, where he said he was calling for “transparency” and not “discrimination.”
The Hollywood blacklist infamously emerged during the early part of the Cold War in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, ensnaring many in the industry over alleged ties to the Communist Party.
Goldberg’s comments about people killing themselves likely referred to Philip Loeb, a stage and television actor who died by suicide in 1955 after he was blacklisted for being named a communist in Red Channels, a book that listed more than 150 industry members with alleged communist sympathies.
“In this country, people can vote for who they want to. That is one of the great rights of this country. You don’t have to like it, but we don’t go after people because we don’t like who they voted for,” Goldberg said on The View, adding, “I’m sure you guys misspoke when you said that because it sounded like a good idea. Think about it. Read about it. Remember what the blacklist actually meant to people and don’t encourage anyone, anyone, to do it.”
Co-host Joy Behar echoed her stance, saying that while she believes the public has a right to know if companies are donating to Trump, people are a different matter.
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“When it’s individuals, I think that then you’re stalking, and you’re starting to endanger that person’s life,” said Behar. “So I don’t approve of that.”
“Let me just say I’m embarrassed for both of them and I’ll say this because I know them both and I’ve worked with Debra before,” said O’Hurley, 56. “They’re both smart people, they do wonderful work. But they’re pushing a case that falls apart from the sheer weight of its lunacy … It falls, it underscores the fact that we aren’t receptive to diversity of thought, which is the exact opposite of what you feel the liberal way should be.”
Both Messing and McCormack addressed the controversy on social media Tuesday, with Messing re-sharing McCormack’s explanatory post on the matter.
“I want to be clear about my social media post from last week, which has been misinterpreted in a very upsetting way,” McCormack wrote. “I absolutely do not support blacklists or discrimination of any kind, as anyone who knows me would attest. I’d simply like to understand where Trump’s major donations are coming from, which is a matter of public record. I am holding myself responsible for making educated and informed decisions that I can morally and ethically stand by and to do that, transparency is essential.”
Messing’s tweet also caught the ire of Trump, who snapped at her on Twitter, recalling an instance in the early 2000s, in which, he said, she called him “Sir” and thanked him for revitalizing the lineup of NBC, where Will & Grace was airing.
I have not forgotten that when it was announced that I was going to do The Apprentice, and when it then became a big hit, helping NBC’s failed lineup greatly, @DebraMessing came up to me at an Upfront & profusely thanked me, even calling me “Sir.” How times have changed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2019
“I have not forgotten that when it was announced that I was going to do The Apprentice, and when it then became a big hit, helping NBC’s failed lineup greatly, @DebraMessing came up to me at an Upfront & profusely thanked me, even calling me ‘Sir.’ How times have changed!” wrote Trump, who is no stranger to personally calling out celebrities.
Messing later clapped back, encouraging the president to focus on the bigger issues at hand, such as Hurricane Dorian and gun violence prevention.
“Now that I know I have your attention @realDonaldTrump, please read this thread- a PARTIAL list of souls lost to preventable, devastating gun violence. America wants universal background checks. The majority of Americans want assault weapons bans. Take Action and I’ll call you Sir,” she wrote.
Now that I know I have your attention @realDonaldTrump, please read this thread— a PARTIAL list of souls lost to preventable,devastating gun violence. America wants universal background checks. The majority of Americans want assault weapons ban. Take Action and I’ll call you Sir. https://t.co/BnaS9zgNps— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) September 1, 2019
Messing also explained her reasoning behind her initial request about the fundraiser, writing on Twitter that when she donates, she’s “proud” to do so and would assume anyone who donates to Trump would feel the same. She later shared a list of campaigns to which she’s donated.
She also responded to a tweet that accused her of bullying for asking for names.
“I didn’t realize requesting public information be printed by an outlet, is bullying,” she wrote. “I think what you just wrote is worse than bullying. Congratulations. You made God proud.”