'Views' from the Left

Newsflash: ABC's “The View” leans left.

Barbara Walters, host of the daytime chat-fest revealed to CNN's Anderson Cooper on May 1 that “in general, [the] panel, with the exception of Elisabeth [Hasselbeck], tends to be, shall we say, more liberal.”

Even casual viewers of Walters and company can tell the show is a liberal bastion. It features Joy Behar's repeated calls for the impeachment of Dick Cheney, Whoopi Goldberg asking John McCain, “Do I have to be worried about becoming a slave again?” and Sherri Shepherd's suggestion that “every woman” rooted for Hillary Clinton.

Thanks to Time magazine, we're having a “View” moment. Time recently honored Walters, Behar, Goldberg, Hasselbeck and Shepherd with a place on its list of “The World's Most Influential” under the category of “Artists and Entertainers." 


Influence Peddling

It's singularly fitting that New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg penned the tribute in the magazine to Walters and company. The “View” of most of them is clearly that from Manhattan (or Hollywood). On issue after issue – abortion, sex ed, gay marriage, etc. – the women (Hasselbeck excepted) come down on the left.

Bloomberg wrote:

We all have our favorites (I'll never tell), be we really do think them as a family. An opinionated family, perhaps. An opinionated family that keeps interrupting one another true. But a family that, every day for one hour, invites us over for a cup of coffee and some candid conversations.

By pulling no punches, they pull answers – and emotions – out of guests that are more genuine than you often see on TV. In an age of reality shows that are not actually real, this one is. If you're their guest, they make you feel like the most interesting person they've ever spent time with. (Even though you're not.) And you feel very lucky to have been included.

Unfortunately, Bloomberg didn't say how the mayor of America's largest city has time to watch a mid-day womens' program. But we digress.

All five women will take turns guest-hosting CNN's “Larry King Live” this week. Cooper interviewed Behar, Shepherd and Hasselbeck in addition to Walters during his May 1 “Time 100/AC 360 Special: The Worlds Most Influential People.”

Walters' revelation is shocking only in its unashamed admittance that the show is indeed liberal. Even the New York Times noticed the leftward slant during the 2008 presidential election. Reporter Jacques Steinberg compared the panel's interviews of John McCain and Barack Obama in a September 23, 2008 article:

While Ms. Walters has been a tougher read, she pressed Mr. McCain in her first question about whether he actually believed Sarah Palin to be, as he has said, the “greatest” vice-presidential nominee in the nation's history. She wondered aloud whether Ms. Palin could ever be compared to John Adams. (He responded that he should probably be more wary of “hyperbole.”) Ms. Walters then asked about Ms. Palin's mandate to be a Washington reformer, asking, “Who is it that Governor Palin is going to reform. You? The Senate?”

By contrast, when Mr. Obama appeared on “The View” in March, when he was not yet the Democratic nominee, Ms. Walters greeted him by relating a backstage conversation with her co-hosts. “Maybe we shouldn't say this,” Ms. Walters told Mr. Obama. “We thought you were very sexy.”

Cooper pressed the women on if their interviews were “fair” and quoted Cindy McCain, who said [they] “picked their bones clean.”

Although Walters said, “I think we were tough on John McCain,” Behar denied it with the dubious explanation that Obama was not yet the candidate when he appeared on the show on March 28, 2008. “When McCain came on it was in the thick of the election time and we went after him because of – I did because of the ads that they were running. The Republican Party was running ads that I thought were lies. And I just confronted him on it. That's all. I just did my job.”

Cooper might have – but of course didn't – pointed out that while Obama may have not have been the official nominee when they interviewed him, he was in the middle of a controversy regarding inflammatory comments made by his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Walters and Hasselbeck asked him two questions each about Wright, but Behar didn't confront him at all about it during the segment.

Later Cooper asked the women if they would want Palin to appear on the show. Behar noted, “I was rough on Sarah. I doubt she'll come back on the show.”

Rough doesn't begin to describe how Behar treated Palin during the election. Behar questioned Palin's commitment to family values before the election, called her an “airhead” after the election and declared that the “press [is] in love” with Sarah Palin. (Nevermind that the press' “love affair” with Palin made Ike and Tina's relationship look like a Disney movie.)

Cooper didn't ask Behar if her statements about Palin were unfair.


Walters' most curious comment came after Cooper asked the women about their off-air relationship. Walters insisted, “we respect each other.”

One has to wonder what Walters meant by “respect” after looking back at some “View” segments from last fall.

After Hasselbeck defended Palin against yet another Behar attack on her intelligence during the October 1 broadcast, Walters scolded her:  

Everyday, you, I mean, let me say this. I'm so glad you're on the program. We love you on the program. You are the counterpoint. But every single day you never ever say “maybe this is another point.” So this is your chance.

Nearly a week later on October 7, 2008, Hasselbeck referred to Wright as a “hatemonger” during a discussion of Obama's past associations with Wright and William Ayers and Walters admonished, “You need to stop saying he's a hatemonger.”

Yet, Behar was not chastised when she called the Bush Administration “liars and murderers,” or accused GOP presidential candidates of attending “Klan meetings.”

And respect isn't a word that comes to mind when you consider Behar's mocking of conservative women's sexuality or Goldberg's willfully ignorant misrepresentations of Catholic doctrine.

Speaking of respect, and going back to Bloomberg's assertion that as a guest, “they make you feel like the most interesting person they've ever spent time with,” Bloomberg obviously wasn't talking about the women's discussion with Ann Coulter back in January. They instead sharpened their claws, insisted she was wrong and then refused to allow her to defend her statements from their attacks.

Time's managing editor, Rick Stengel, declared Walters et al “angels of democracy” when he dropped by “The View” on April 30. Perhaps democracy in the sense of “majority rules” is an accurate description of the show as the majority liberal opinions clearly dominate the discussion. But democracy in the sense of “everyone having a say,” doesn't hold true.

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.