Top 10 Heated Moments on Talk Shows
Top 10 Heated Moments on Talk Shows

Top 10 Heated Moments on Talk Shows

VOICE OVER: Sophia Franklin WRITTEN BY: Jesse Barber
These talk show moments were so heated that they melted the set. For this list, we'll be looking at moments where hosts and/or guests alike turn talk shows into scream shows… see what we did there? Our countdown includes "The View," "The O'Reilly Factor," "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," and more!

Top 10 Heated Moments on Talk Shows

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Heated Moments on Talk Shows.

For this list, we’ll be looking at moments where hosts and/or guests alike turn talk shows into scream shows… see what we did there?

Were you lucky enough to see these moments in real-time? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Rosie O'Donnell vs. Elisabeth Hasselbeck
“The View” (1997-)

This moment was the blueprint for how the Ladies Who Punch book of nonfiction - which may soon appear on your screens as a television series - tackled political discourse. In late May of 2007, The View hosts attempted to have a civil discussion about the War in Iraq. Elisabeth Hasselbeck mistakenly identified Iraq as our “enemies,” which was Rosie O’Donnell’s green light to go in for the kill. The argument quickly devolved into their personal conflict. It turned out that O’Donnell was upset that the former Survivor contestant didn’t defend her against the merciless attacks she received from certain media. O’Donnell left the show shortly after the altercation aired. This seemingly left future hosts with the formula to take on hot topics: pick a side, take personal digs at each other, rinse, and repeat.

#9: Madonna vs. The FCC
“Late Show with David Letterman” (1992-2015)

This entry is considered one of the most infamous- and bizarre- moments in late-night television. David Letterman began by joking about Madonna’s personal life. As Madge materialized on stage, she retaliated by handing him a pair of her underwear. When she asked him to smell her unmentionables after a few minutes in, chaos ensued with an interview chock-full of innuendoes and f-bombs (14 of them, to be exact). America clutched its pearls and filled the FCC’s inbox with complaints. The two seemed to have patched things up when Madonna surprised Letterman for Valentine’s Day the following year. During a 2015 interview, the Queen of Pop disclosed that she had been dating Tupac at the time of the Letterman debacle and she was feeling, in her words, gangsta.

#8: Cam’ron vs. Bill O'Reilly
“The O’Reilly Factor” (1996-2017)

The arguably meme-worthiest moment on our list features The Diplomats’ Cam’ron and Bill O’Reilly. The latter’s talk show“The O’Reilly Factor” invited record producer Damon Dash, and rapper Cam’ron to spar with an elementary school principal over the lyrical content of their music. The discussion quickly gets heated, with host O’Reilly seeming unable to let things naturally progress, and heavily implying that Cam’ron’s music is causing kids to go down a path of criminal behavior. The rapper hilariously shoots back with the now iconic phrase. Cam’ron later admitted that his publicist had briefly informed him of the harassment claims against the “Culture Warrior.” Those same claims eventually led to the cancellation of O’Reilly’s beloved Fox News program.

#7: Katie Hopkins vs. Holly Willoughby
“This Morning” (1988-)

What’s in a name? Apparently quite a bit, including telling us what class someone belongs to - at least, according to far-right commentator Katie Hopkins. The topic du jour was parenting. Holly Willoughby, who’s typically bright and cheerful, was quick to point out Hopkins’s hypocrisy on “This Morning.” Hopkins argued that she wouldn’t let her children mix with those who have names that are common amongst lower-class people. She then doubled down to express her disdain for geographical names. The argument climaxed when it’s revealed that one of Hopkins’s children is named… wait for it… India! It’s that impressive self-unawareness that makes her the perfect target to be pranked by a Youtuber, however. In 2020, she was flown to Prague to be given a prestigious fake award.

#6: Ellen DeGeneres vs. John McCain
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (2003-22)

She has spent almost two decades entertaining America with her bubbly talk show. However, that doesn’t mean Ellen shies away from an awkward moment. During his 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain made an appearance on the popular talk show in the hopes of promoting his platform to Ellen’s huge audience. Instead, she took the Republican senator to task and questioned him about gay marriage. Staunchly opposed to the union, McCain was clearly uncomfortable. For our younger viewers, gay marriage had not been legalized and was still an explosive topic, especially during a presidential election. In true comedian fashion, Ellen relieved the tension by asking McCain if he would be willing to walk her down the aisle. The joke was received with a mostly convincing chuckle.

#5: Bill Maher vs. Truthers
“Real Time with Bill Maher” (2003-)

The uncensored talk show host welcomes all kinds of controversial figures on his late-night program, but only when they’re participating on his panel of guests. During an unrelated segment, audience members began to heckle the host. If you listen closely, you’ll discover that they’re conspiracy theorists who believe that the attacks in September 2001 were an inside job. Almost like a series of nesting dolls, the hecklers kept resurfacing even after Maher jumped off the stage to kick them out himself. Though these conspiracy theories have been debunked, they have still been shared and meme-ified widely. Maher’s audience simply became a living example of misinformation spread out of control.

#4: Jon Stewart vs. Crossfire
“Crossfire” (1982-2005; 2013-14)

CNN has perfected the art of turning political debate into primetime entertainment with their divisive talk show. “Crossfire”’s format featured two hosts that represent two opposing sides of an issue as they interview one or more guests. When they booked the host of a satirical news program, they probably expected some lighthearted jabs that would result in some decent ratings. Instead, Jon Stewart accused the program of partisan showboating, and essentially pleaded with the network to stop inflaming political division amongst their audiences. The conversation went off the rails when Tucker Carlson, bowtie and all, resorted to insults. Stewart retaliated by calling Carlson a name referring to the phallus. It may come as no surprise that Crossfire was canceled for the first time only three months after this episode.

#3: Andy Dick vs. Security
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (2003-)

This former co-star of NBC’s NewsRadio is one of the most controversial celebrities to date. His laundry list of public offenses has been the subject of news articles, think pieces, and roasts. During this interview alongside Ivanka Trump, Andy can’t keep his hands to himself. He gropes the future First Daughter’s leg and is promptly told to behave. Ivanka tries to play it off, but she’s clearly uncomfortable. When he grabs her again to ask for a kiss, security swarms the stage and drags him away, feet first. Since the incident, it’s clear Andy still hasn’t learned his lesson.

#2: Russell Brand vs. Westboro Baptist Church
“Brand X with Russell Brand” (2012-13)

It doesn’t take a scientist to predict the outcome of hosting the notoriously homophobic Westboro Baptist Church and gay men on the same stage. On his short-lived talk show, Russell Brand made an attempt to find some mutual understanding between the two parties. After playing a fun game of “Who Goes to Heaven or Hell,” Brand invited some gay friends of his onstage. That went over exactly how one would expect. Despite Brand’s intentions, there was no unity, nor was there any productive discussion. After the show, the church carried on with its crusade.

#1: Geraldo Rivera vs. Angry Mob
“Geraldo” (1987-98)

Before fist-fighting was a regular occurrence on shows like Jerry Springer, this was a groundbreaking moment for daytime television. During an episode that featured white supremacists and a Black civil rights leader Roy Innis, things got heated when racial slurs were tossed around. Soon after, chairs were also being tossed around as the stage became a brawling mess and Rivera received a broken nose. As a former amateur boxer, that did not phase him and he continued with the program. For the viewers, it was shocking to see such a raw portrayal of racial tension in America. This moment helped earn his show the title of “Trash TV.”