Top 10 Times TV Hosts LOST IT on Live TV
VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
WRITTEN BY: Don Ekama
Admit it, this is why you watch "The View." For this list, we'll be looking at times when talk show hosts completely lost their composure on camera. Our countdown includes Piers Morgan, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Maher and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times TV Hosts Lost it on Live TV. For this list, we’ll be looking at times when talk show hosts completely lost their composure on camera. We’ll only be focusing on heated outbursts, so we won’t be including hilarious moments like Anderson Cooper breaking into a fit of laughter after taking a jab at French actor Gérard Depardieu. Did we miss any other TV host meltdowns? Let us know in the comments.
#10: Rosie O'Donnell & Elisabeth Hasselbeck
“The View” (1997-)
Rosie O’Donnell has had two short stints on the popular daytime talk show “The View.” During her first go, the comedian and actress rarely ever saw eye to eye with her more conservative co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Their feud came to a head on May 23rd 2007, when Joy Behar brought up a discussion about then-President George W. Bush and the Iraq War. Hasselbeck defended the President and referred to Iraq as “our enemies,” much to O’Donnell’s chagrin. What began as a political dissent swiftly turned personal, with O’Donnell chastising Hasselbeck for not defending her against conservative news outlets. Things got so heated, that both women were even placed side-by-side on a split-screen, a move that prompted O’Donnell to quit the show.
#9: Geraldo Rivera & Sean Hannity
In 2018, 22-year-old Pierce Corcoran was killed in a car crash involving Francisco Eduardo Franco-Cambrany, an undocumented immigrant. The incident rekindled heated debates across America about immigration and then-President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. In one such debate, Sean Hannity brought fellow Fox News host Geraldo Rivera on his show, alongside conservative commentator Dan Bongino. Their discussion quickly devolved into a deafening shouting match, with Rivera accusing Hannity of exploiting the tragic event for political points. Bongino, the third wheel in the discussion, eventually joined in and turned the tables on Rivera, by accusing him of also making a political point. It wouldn’t be new territory for Rivera, who had previously gotten into it with “The Five” co-host Greg Gutfeld.
#8: Neil Cavuto
“Making Money with Charles Payne” (2014-)
A 2019 Fox Business panel got heated when two of the featured hosts disagreed on then-President Trump’s handling of the national deficits and debt. While Neil Cavuto criticized the administration’s management of the situation, Lou Dobbs chimed in to sing Trump’s praises. This sent Cavuto right off the edge. The longtime anchor and network executive fired off at Dobbs, asking repeatedly if he thought the President had things under control. Dobbs, when he was finally able to chip in an answer over Cavuto's constant interruptions, responded in the affirmative. Dobbs then goes on to talk about deregulation and unemployment, which does absolutely nothing to pacify Cavuto.
#7: Piers Morgan
“Good Morning Britain” (2014-)
Oprah Winfrey’s no-holds-barred interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was rife with explosive allegations about the British Royal Family. Appearing on “Good Morning Britain” the day after the interview aired, co-host Piers Morgan questioned Markle’s claim of mental health struggles. His remarks sparked a huge controversy, and he was criticized on the “Good Morning Britain” panel the very next day by his co-host Alex Beresford. The two got into an argument over the comments made, culminating in Morgan rising from his seat and storming off the set. The incident caused Morgan to resign from his position as a host on the show, a decision that was announced by ITV later that day.
#6: Oprah Winfrey
“The Oprah Winfrey Show” (1986-2011)
Oprah Winfrey’s highly successful daytime show featured a segment called “Oprah’s Book Club” which guaranteed any selection instant success. In September 2005, Winfrey picked “A Million Little Pieces,” a memoir by James Frey that detailed his harrowing struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction. A few months later, Frey was embroiled in a huge controversy after an investigative website alleged that he had lied about several details in his book. Winfrey brought Frey back on her show, where he admitted to fabricating parts of the memoir. In what Today.com called “a stunning switch from dismissive to disgusted,” a livid Winfrey grilled Frey in front of her mostly disappointed viewers. It was so intense that Winfrey later issued an apology to Frey.
#5: Steve Wilkos
“The Steve Wilkos Show” (2007-)
A former director of security at “The Jerry Springer Show,” Steve Wilkos began hosting his own spin-off in September 2007. Wilkos’ show followed in the footsteps of its parent series, featuring controversial cases that typically devolved into loud shouting matches and physical fights. In this episode, Wilkos brings on a woman who accused her fiancé of stealing her deceased baby’s ashes. After he fails a lie detector test, Wilkos loses it at the man, yelling expletives at him before kicking him off the stage. It’s wild, but probably not as wild as this case, where he explodes at a woman, telling her he hopes she rots in hell. We just have one question on our minds: What does Wilkos have against chairs?
#4: Bill O'Reilly
“The O'Reilly Factor” (1996-2017)
In 2005, the King of Daytime Talk, Phil Donahue, appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show for a discussion about the Iraq War. The segment begins with O’Reilly questioning Donahue’s support of Cindy Sheehan, an anti-war protester whose son was killed in active duty during the war. Donahue reaffirms his support of Sheehan and criticizes O’Reilly for constantly denigrating her. All the while, the tension between the two hosts is palpable, and it all comes to a boil when Donahue seemingly points out O’Reilly’s hypocrisy. O’Reilly blows his top, threatening to kick Donahue out for his backhanded comments. Through it all, Donahue maintains his cool, emphasizing that “loud doesn’t mean right.” And we couldn’t agree more.
#3: Morton Downey Jr.
“The Morton Downey Jr. Show” (1987-89)
Before networks were littered with “trash TV” shows in the ‘90s and 2000s, there was “The Morton Downey Jr. Show.” The syndicated program, which was a first of its kind, became known for being rowdy and unnecessarily crude. In one of its most infamous episodes, Downey Jr. hosted Kellie Everts, a stripper who claimed to be doing the business in God’s name. Right off the bat, Downey Jr. berates the woman, mocking her for her appearance and profession. At one point, he even thrusts at her with his pelvis, and later, acts like he’s going to backhand her. Everts does her best to defend herself, but she is no match for the host’s inappropriate antics and the loud cheering from his audience.
#2: Bill Maher
“Real Time with Bill Maher” (2003-)
Controversial TV host and comedian Bill Maher can now add “security guard” to his resumé after this incident. During a live taping of his late night show in 2007, Maher was anchoring a panel discussion on an unrelated topic when he was heckled by an audience member. The individual interrupted the show multiple times by shouting out 9/11 conspiracy theories. At first, Maher took it in stride, but as the heckler persisted, he shot up from his seat and yelled for security. Maher then took it upon himself to go into the crowd and physically throw the man out. Of course, when he returned to the panel, another audience member continued from where the first man stopped.
#1: Whoopi Goldberg & Joy Behar
“The View” (1997-)
Back in 2010, when Bill O’Reilly was still the host of the popular Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor,” he made a controversial appearance on “The View.” While discussing his book “Pinheads and Patriots,” O’Reilly brought up the Muslim community center that was to be erected near the site of the 9/11 attacks. O’Reilly voiced his opposition to the development of the center and sparred with the other hosts about it. Then, he made a totally insensitive assertion that ticked off the hosts, particularly Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar. The two women got up and stormed off stage in protest. Things eventually calmed down after O’Reilly apologized, leading Goldberg and Behar to return to the panel.