NEW YORK – The war of words between Donald Trump and "The View" went nuclear Wednesday when the self-promoting billionaire dropped a mega-ton bomb on show matron Barbara Walters, calling her a "sad figurehead dominated by a third-rate comedian."
Trump's blast was in response to Walters' earlier comment to co-host Rosie O'Donnell that he was a "poor, pathetic man."
In a statement released by his organization, Trump accused Walters of "taking the low road for the sake of her show rather than the sake of her morality."
He also said he now wishes he had not been chosen by Walters as one of the "10 Most Fascinating People," a reference to Trump's appearance on Walters' ABC special in 2004. Trump was not listed on Walters' 2006 list.
Walters and O'Donnell opened Wednesday morning's live broadcast of "The View" by addressing a stinging letter penned and circulated Tuesday by Trump and addressed to O'Donnell in which he claims Walters "lied to both of us" about their ongoing feud.
Dropping a nationally televised bomb on Trump, Walters told O'Donnell that he "just can't let go."
O'Donnell responded with an enthusiastic shot of her own against Trump.
"His show tanked!" O'Donnell yelled to a cheering studio audience, a reference to reports that the season premiere of Trump's show "The Apprentice" finished a dismal third in Sunday night's ratings. "And on we go to things that are actually important!"
In his statement, Trump also refuted O'Donnell's claim that "The Apprentice" had done poorly.
"Rosie lied once again by incorrectly citing 'The Apprentice' ratings," Trump stated. "Nielsen showed 'The Apprentice' was number one from 10:30 to 11:00 p.m. in all of television."
The tone of Trump's Jan. 9 letter, sent to FOX News and other press outlets, was snide — and some of his allegations about Walters' recent grumbling over O'Donnell, whom she hired last year to be the moderator on "The View," are shocking.
"In fact, she lied to both of us!" Trump wrote in the one-page letter, which he sent to O'Donnell at ABC Studios in Manhattan.
"After your maniacal and foolish rant against me two weeks ago, Barbara called me from her vacation (I did not call her) in order to apologize for your behavior. She had heard that I was going to retaliate against you and tried to talk me out of it."
Raw Data: Dear Rosie (pdf)
Trump claims Walters tried to persuade him to come on "The View" when she returned from vacation so that she could "patch things up," but he said no.
"To be exact, she said that 'working with her [O'Donnell] is like living in hell' and, more pointedly, 'Donald, never get into the mud with pigs' and 'don't worry, she won't be here for long,'" Trump wrote. "Barbara knows exactly what she told me over the phone and she has to live with it."
He also mentioned another incident about two months ago when he said he approached Walters at Le Cirque restaurant in New York and asked how working with O'Donnell was going. Walters, he said, rolled her eyes and replied, "'Donald, do you have to ruin my meal?'"
Trump's latest weighing-in came after numerous media outlets, including FOXNews.com and The New York Post's Page Six gossip column, published reports of tempers flaring Monday morning backstage at "The View" between O'Donnell and Walters over O'Donnell's continuing vicious spar-fest with Trump.
O'Donnell allegedly accused Walters of being "a [expletive] liar" in ABC Studios' hair and makeup room Monday morning, according to Page Six.
The spat began about 8:30 a.m. when Walters walked in after two weeks' vacation and tried to give O'Donnell a hug, a gesture the latter responded to by fuming, "You kept me in the newspapers this whole time!" Page Six reported, quoting unidentified "spies" on the scene.
Walters, along with "View" producer Bill Geddie, tried to soothe O'Donnell, but she was having none of it, according to the Post.
"You didn't call me for 10 g—damn days, and you didn't tell me what you were going to say on television!" O'Donnell reportedly told Walters.
The Trump vs. O'Donnell feud started when O'Donnell questioned Trump's decision to give Miss USA Tara Conner a second chance after she was reportedly caught drinking while underage.
Live on "The View," O'Donnell mocked Trump's "comb-over" hairdo, pointed to his two divorces and said he shouldn't be the "moral compass for 20-year-olds." She also said he had been bankrupt, which ABC later clarified (he has never filed for personal bankruptcy, but several of his casino companies have filed for business bankruptcies).
Trump later told FOX News Channel and other media outlets that he and Walters were friends and that Walters had confided in him that she regretted hiring O'Donnell.
While she was away, Walters released a statement that said she was "sorry there is friction between Donald and Rosie. That said, I do not regret for one moment my choice to hire Rosie O'Donnell as the moderator of 'The View.'"
Backstage on Monday, producer Geddie told O'Donnell she'd "crossed the line" with her tongue-lashing of Walters, the Post reported.
"Cameras are now outside of my house where my wife and kids are," Page Six sources reported O'Donnell as replying before she told Walters, "You went all around this and never called [Trump] a liar. You never said, 'Donald is lying.' You never called him a liar. ... Are you looking me in the face and denying you didn't tell him you didn't say this? You're a [expletive] liar."
Those at "The View" characterized the exchange as minor and old news.
"From the first day Rosie spoke about Donald Trump, Barbara has been nothing but supportive of Rosie. Whatever happened in the hair and makeup room was only a squabble," "View" publicist Karl Nilsson told FOXNews.com Tuesday. "It's business as usual. Everyone has moved on."
Cynics speculated that Trump's in-the-spotlight handling of the Miss USA scandal and his counter-attacks on O'Donnell have been publicity stunts for "The Apprentice."
But if that were the case, the efforts have failed. Ratings for "The Apprentice" premiere, which aired Sunday night, were dreary.
The program garnered only 9.1 million viewers for a sagging 5.4 Nielsen rating — shockingly low for a season-opener of the once-popular NBC show and about half a million viewers behind the last "Apprentice" debut. It also dragged in third place in its time slot, according to Nielsen Media Research.
O'Donnell's role in the ongoing verbal warfare hasn't exactly been helping her, either, however.
A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted by phone over the weekend among 1,004 participants indicated that only 28 percent of people had a favorable opinion of O'Donnell vs. 41 percent who said they had a favorable opinion of Trump, USA Today reported.
FOX News' Catherine Donaldson-Evans contributed to this report.
Raw Data: Dear Rosie (pdf)