Rosie jumped the shark at the Matrix luncheon earlier this week. As emcee at the big yearly gathering of the female media elite, she renewed her feud with Donald Trump, insulted Rupert Murdoch (who was part of the luncheon’s award ceremony), and spewed expletives every time she stood up to talk.
She was so rude, crude, and inappropriately vulgar that you expected someone on the dais to lean over and ask her, as Tony asked his sidekick Paulie last week on The Sopranos, “Ever get tested for Tourette?” Her performance at the luncheon had Barbara Walters covering her face with her hands in embarrassment. That’s why her announcement, less than 48 hours later, that she was leaving The View at the end of June, was no big surprise.
Although Rosie has caused the ratings of the daily, girlie gabfest to spike, she has been highly controversial, with her constant calls for the president’s impeachment, the airing of her crackpot conspiracy theories about 9/11 and her attacks on Fox News. Echoed by Joy Behar, a View co-host, Rosie’s America-bashing usually elicited audience applause, but polls now indicate that the public does not agree with her rants, and they like her a lot less than before she started her daily diatribes.
Barbara Walters, a master of the appropriate gesture, claims she had nothing to do with Rosie’s leaving The View. O’Donnell said she just could not make the deal she wanted with ABC. But Donald Trump raced to Fox News to insist Rosie got fired because of the curse-laden insults she had aimed at him at the Matrix lunch. He also said, “Barbara’s the happiest person in the world that Rosie got fired.”
At the lunch, Barbara, tidying up after Rosie ripped into Murdoch, did say, “I would like to point out that Rosie’s view is not always mine. I would like to say for the record that I am very fond of Rupert Murdoch.” I guess all these past months Barbara didn’t mind Rosie bashing the president — but, when you are a Media Queen, you can’t just stand by when someone doesn’t show the proper respect for the Holy Roman Emperor.
During Wednesday’s show, Barbara, for first time, suddenly cut Rosie off when she was once again calling for impeachment. After letting Rosie rule for so long, Barbara seems to want to take command again. Maybe she has become tired of people losing respect for her because of Rosie’s antics, or maybe her almost 50 years of journalistic experience is kicking in. Crassness is out, at least temporarily.
The Matrix lunch, a big fundraiser for New York Women in Communication, is usually a liberal love-in, with the same women, in turn, giving each other awards. This year it seemed at first like it was going to be more of the same, with Walters giving an award to Arianna Huffington, Joy Behar handing one to Meredith Vieira, and Hillary saluting her former press secretary Lisa Caputo, now a Citigroup executive. Rupert Murdoch, the exception that proved the rule, was there to hand a trophy to Cindy Adams, the New York Post’s very New York gossip columnist. He stayed through the very long luncheon, smiling pleasantly while Rosie ragged him and the Post staff-members who had come to see their colleague honored. Hillary snuck in late and left early.
But what was different about this luncheon was that several of the award winners eschewed the usual pants-suits for more feminine attire. Arianna Huffington wore sparkly earrings and a lace blouse that a Victorian virgin would have adored. There were lots of designer duds, false eyelashes, and great shoes. And there was none of the “I am Woman, hear me roar” rhetoric in the acceptance speeches. The biggest surprise, perhaps, was not Rosie’s foul mouth but the lukewarm reaction Hillary received. When Lisa Caputo said to her “Thank you, President Clinton,” the applause that followed was extremely subdued.
Yes, it was interesting watching Rosie self-destruct, and interesting as well seeing Hillary be so taken for granted. But the best part of this very unusual power lunch was hearing very successful women who were being honored for their achievements acknowledge that what was most important to them was really their own families. Maybe the feminist ranting that both Rosie and Hillary think women like to hear is finally seriously out-of-date.
Just Can’t Get Enough? Myrna Blyth has written about Rosie and The View before. Jonah Goldberg thinks Rosie’s nuts. The late Catherine Seipp reviewed reviews of Blyth’s book on the liberal women of media. Geoffrey Norman wrote about the demise of another media figure, Dan Rather.