The author of “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of "The View" said the ABC News daytime talk show benefits from President Trump and the show even foreshadowed that he could outshine Hillary Clinton years before they faced off in the 2016 election.
“I think that the presence of Donald Trump has absolutely helped ‘The View.’ It’s given the show a reason to exist in terms of being able to react to all the big headlines in the news,” author Ramin Setoodeh told Fox News. “That is a notion that I’ve heard from executives and producers. It’s good for the show that Trump is president.”
“Ladies Who Punch" is the explosive inside look at the daytime gabfest created by Barbara Walters that forever changed the way debate programs are presented to viewers.
“Women at the table often saw themselves through the lenses of Hillary Clinton. She was like a phantom sixth co-host and Donald Trump, in some ways, was like a nemesis to the ladies on the show,” Setoodeh said.
Veteran entertainment journalist Ramin Setoodeh has been covering “The View” for roughly a decade, establishing relationships with the show’s key figures in the process. He decided that the behind-the-scenes story needed to be told because it “started to feel like a Shakespearian saga” when a battle for post-Walters control started to bubble up during the journalism legend’s final seasons – but not everyone agreed that the material would result in a successful book.
“It was rejected by more than 20 publishing houses,” Setoodeh said. “It’s a bias in the publishing industry, because they saw this as a book about the media and they didn’t understand how important these women were. They didn’t understand how powerful these women are.”
He interviewed 150 people for the book, including 11 of the show’s past and current co-hosts over three years. At least 20 publishers are presumably kicking themselves this week, as “Ladies Who Punch” is among the hottest new releases in America, according to Amazon. The book details everything from tales of Walters allegedly bullying other panelists to “underlying lesbian undertones” between co-hosts.
Setoodeh said that Trump is the gift that keeps on giving to the ABC News daytime talk show, as he provided the show with nonstop content long before entering the world of politics. The former reality star had a long-running public feud with O'Donnell and he was even asked about running for president during a 2011 appearance on the show – four years before Trump actually announced his candidacy.
“Nobody actually looked at that as a political interview, but when you look back on it now… it was a political interview. I was actually there that day and it got so heated that they expanded it to another segment,” Setoodeh said.
He explained that "everyone is doing town halls now, but the ‘The View’ is really one of the first platforms" where presidential candidates would come and do interviews on daytime television.
"That was completely groundbreaking. The fact that, if you wanted to run for president, the road to the White House went through ‘The View,’ was a completely groundbreaking phenomenon. There had to be a stop, not only in Iowa and New Hampshire, but also ABC’s studio at ‘The View,’” Setoodeh said.
Just this week, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-OH, announced his 2020 presidential candidacy on the show and industry insiders have long speculated whether or not the show’s popularity, combined with falling under the ABC News umbrella, could eventually result in panelists such as Joy Behar being involved in town hall events.
ABC News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The “Ladies Who Punch” author said that one of his favorite stories is the result of Hillary Clinton attempting to soft launch her 2008 campaign by doing a “Very, very conversational” interview with ‘The View’ right before Christmas in 2006. But, in a bit of foreshadowing, she was eclipsed by Trump.
“Hillary went on to discuss opening Christmas presents with Bill and Chelsea, why she’s thinking about running for the White House. It was supposed to be a soft launch of her campaign, to see how she’s doing with these questions and sort of test how she did on daytime show. And that was the day that Rosie O'Donnell did her roast of Trump and Hillary’s appearance was completely overshadowed,” he said. “It’s ironic because Hillary and Trump, there are connections to them that date back to ‘The View.’”
“Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump also both attended Star Jones’ wedding and sat at the same table in 2004. The show has been this strange bridge between the two candidates, and I think that shows it’s cultural importance,” he said.
O'Donnell, Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Debbie Matenopoulos, and Jenny McCarthy are among the rotating panelists that have made headlines over the years, but the politically charged Behar is arguably the most polarizing of the group.
“I think she’s really established herself as the resident liberal on ‘The View,’ having done the show for more than 20 years,” Setoodeh said. “Sometimes the politics of the other co-hosts aren’t as clear… with Joy you always know that she is the most liberal person on the panel.”
Behar’s star power has increased during the Trump administration, as she attacks the president and his allies on a regular basis with comments that often go viral. In recent memory, she has mocked Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian faith, declared Sen. Lindsey Graham needs to “find his testicularity” and frequently sparred with conservative co-host Meghan McCain.
The formula is working, as “The View” finished the first quarter of 2019 as the fourth most-watched syndicated daytime talk show with an average of 2.9 million viewers, trailing only “Dr. Phil,” “Ellen” and “Live with Kelly and Ryan” in the category.
As a result of the show’s popularity, “Ladies Who Punch” has created buzz throughout the media industry, landing Setoodeh an onslaught of promotional appearances in the process. He credits Trump for supplying the content the show needs to thrive, as the president has emerged as Behar’s personal punching bag.
“I don’t think ‘The View’ would be as popular, or as watched, if Joy Behar wasn’t on the show during the Trump administration,” Setoodeh said.
While many would argue that Behar is the second most important “View” panelist after pioneer Walters, Setoodeh thinks O'Donnell has a strong case for that title herself despite a short stint on the show.
“What she did in her season was the template that the show adopted. She made it must-see TV, she made it really political, she was really passionate and she sort of blurred the line between fights on TV versus fights backstage,” Setoodeh said. “Everything that Rosie did on that show was very personal and she made it really dramatic but really watchable and fun."
Setoodeh put his money where his mouth is and ended up selecting only Goldberg, Walters and O'Donnell for the book’s cover. He said Behar was discussed as a potential fourth illustration and joked that she could possibly pop up on the paperback.