ABC News has maintained a stony silence amid increased pressure for its star Joy Behar to apologize on-air to the "millions of Christians" who watch "The View," leaving Disney boss Bob Iger to fend for himself when an angry shareholder asked him about the brouhaha at a recent shareholder meeting.
On Feb. 13, Behar criticized Vice President Pence's faith by saying that hearing from Jesus is actually called “mental illness.” The resulting public outrage led scores of angry viewers to call or write ABC News demanding an apology. It wasn’t until late last week that Iger, CEO of ABC parent Disney, finally revealed when questioned by a concerned shareholder that Behar had privately called the vice president to apologize.
“ABC is doing absolutely nothing about this,” an ABC source told Fox News.
Multiple ABC sources told Fox News that ABC -- despite tens of thousands of formal viewer complaints -- has not subjected Behar’s comments to review by the news division’s Editorial Standards and Practices department. The unit normally would rule on whether a public apology was required, and whether Behar and much-feared “The View” boss Hilary Estey McLoughlin should be subjected to discipline for Behar’s offensive remarks.
"ABC is doing absolutely nothing about this.”
“Joy Behar apologized to Vice President Pence directly. She made a call to him and apologized, which I thought was absolutely appropriate,” Iger said at the shareholder meeting. Audio reveals that Iger appeared irritated and dismissive of the shareholder, sharply cutting off the exchange.
A White House source described to Fox News the conversation between Pence and the ABC News star.
“She apologized to the vice president, he accepted and said he wasn’t offended by her comment for his own sake but on behalf of the millions of Christians who watch ABC and her show," the source told Fox News. "He encouraged her to make the same apology publicly on the show that she did privately to him.”
But Behar has yet to publicly apologize and it appears that she has no plans to do so.
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell issued a statement declaring that Behar’s private apology is “not nearly enough” and promised to continue his campaign against “anti-Christian bigotry” at the network.
Bozell’s watchdog group is presently running a campaign on behalf of aggrieved Christians, urging that viewers contact “View” advertisers about Behar’s “hateful, anti-Christian remarks.” As a result, more than 30,000 calls have been placed to ABC News and the show’s advertisers have received more than 10,000 calls of angry viewers complaining about the “anti-Christian” remarks.
“Behar and ABC need to publicly apologize for the bigoted slurs on ‘The View.’ The bigoted statements made about the vice president's Christian faith offended hundreds of millions of Christians across the country, the largest faith group in the United States. Their apology should therefore be as public as their insult,” Bozell said.
The MRC, which bills itself as “America’s media watchdog,” has published the contact information of 14 advertisers of “The View,” including Clorox, Dove, Pampers, Downy, Oreo and Gerber.
Disney has not responded to multiple requests for comment, while ABC News pointed Fox News to an on-air comment that Behar made last month as her public statement on the matter.
“I don’t mean to offend people but apparently I keep doing it,” she said during the non-apology. “It was a joke.”
A representative of ABC News declined to comment when asked directly if Behar would apologize based on the latest MRC attack on its advertisers.
An ABC source said that the news division does not expect “The View” to abide by the editorial standards and practices of the rest of its “news” programming.
Standard procedure at ABC News is that when a piece of content becomes the object of heated viewer complaints, executives in its Standards and Practices Department, which has several staffers despite ABC News’ small size, review it and determine a course of action. These actions can include mandating an apology or imposing some manner of discipline on personnel involved.
Recently, ABC News suspended for a month without pay its chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, after he broadcast an incorrect report about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea. Ross was later demoted to a sinecure at ABC’s beleaguered Lincoln Square Productions.
In 2015, ABC News compelled George Stephanopoulos to recuse himself from moderating presidential debates after it was revealed the “Good Morning America” star had been secretly giving tens of thousands of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. ABC continues to pay Stephanopoulos in the range of $15 million dollars a year despite his diminished clout and social cache now that the Clintons are out of power.
Fox News contacted spokespeople for ABC News, ABC Television Network and Disney -- none of whom would comment on Behar.
Among those not commenting is ABC News Senior Vice President for Talent and Business Barbara Fedida, who is believed to have executive oversight of “The View. “
According to a number of reports in the Daily Mail, ABC News’ and particularly Fedida’s stewardship of “The View” has rankled producers at the longtime chat show. ABC News assumed control of “The View” from ABC Daytime in 2014.
Increasing incursions by “the View” into news territory have made the program more controversial. Only on Friday, Behar and “View” guest Valerie Jarrett, who is Barack and Michelle Obama’s best friend, both made excuses for a co-founder of the Women’s March who has ties to the anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.
“Everybody has baggage,” Behar said. “Unless you're in utero, you have baggage.”