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Top 10 Shocking Talk Show Scandals

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These are the stories that had everybody talking. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Talk Show Scandals. For this list, we’re taking a look at feuds and controversies from both daytime and late night talk shows that either made audiences drop their morning cup of Joe or their glass of wine. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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These are the stories that had everybody talking. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Talk Show Scandals.

For this list, we’re taking a look at feuds and controversies from both daytime and late night talk shows that either made audiences drop their morning cup of Joe or their glass of wine.

#10: Doctor Phil Drug Scandal

In 2017, this long-running television program came under fire after former Survivor contestant Todd Herzog accused the producers of enabling his drug and alcohol addiction in order to generate views. In his now infamous appearance in 2013, Herzog was so drunk he could barely stand, indicating to viewers that his condition had led him to an all time low. However, according to Herzog, he was coerced by staff into drinking two bottles of vodka and given Xanax to “calm his nerves” before filming. The Doctor Phil Show has vehemently denied these claims, however, an expose published in 2017 by the STAT and the Boston Globe exhibited multiple victims make similar claims against the production.

#9: Rosie O’Donnell vs. Elisabeth Hasselbeck

“The View” can sometimes feel like a daytime soap opera. Of all the scandals this talk show has endured over the years, the feud between co-hosts Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck was perhaps the most notorious. The tension between the two reached its boiling point in 2007 when Hasselbeck referred to Iraq as America’s “enemy,” prompting O’Donnell to argue that the Bush administration was truly at fault. The liberal O’Donnell additionally criticized the media for their unflattering portrayal of her, claiming that they favored the conservative Hasselbeck. Following their heated argument, O’Donnell left the show while Hasselbeck exited five years later.

#8: Alec Baldwin’s Gay Slur

Although Alec Baldwin is one of the most outspoken liberals in showbiz, his behavior hasn’t always lived up to his professed ideals. In 2013, the Oscar nominated actor landed in hot water when he allegedly made an anti-gay slur directed at a paparazzo. In due course, Baldwin was suspended from his late night talk show for two weeks. While Baldwin initially claimed that he was misquoted, he ultimately described his outburst as “offensive and unacceptable” in an apology. The damage was done, however, as “Up Late with Alec Baldwin” was canceled after only five episodes. It also probably didn’t help that Baldwin also made homophobic remarks towards reporter George Stark on Twitter.

#7: Maury Povich’s Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Maury Povich is no stranger to controversy, as many critics have accused his tabloid talk show of exploiting serious issues. Speaking of exploitation, a $100 million sex harassment lawsuit was filed against Povich and other members of his staff in 2006. The allegations stemmed from Bianca Nardi, a former producer of “The Maury Povich Show,” who claimed that the host and his workers had forced her to watch pornography and attempt to seduce married men at bars while being filmed. She additionally accused executive producer Paul Faulhaber of making her wear revealing outfits and implied that Povich was having an affair with producer Donna Ingber. Despite this scandal, Povich remains on television and is still married to Connie Chung.

#6: Billy Bush Fired From “Today”

Just when it seemed like the 2016 U.S. presidential election couldn’t get any crazier, a 2005 hot mic recording surfaced in which Republican candidate Donald Trump shared an offensive and potentially incriminating conversation with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush. On a bus ride, Trump not only admitted that he tried and failed to seduce Nancy O'Dell, but also made some vulgar statements while discussing actress Arianne Zucker. The scandal took a drastic toll on Bush’s public image, resulting in his termination from “The Today Show.” Meanwhile, Trump continued his campaign and was elected President almost a month later.

#5: Blackmail Attempt Against David Letterman

After a long, hard day, audiences would typically tune into the “Late Show with David Letterman” for a lighthearted laugh. The talk show took an uncomfortable turn in 2009, though, when Letterman confessed to having several sexual relationships with his female staffers. An extortionist had targeted Letterman, threatening to write a screenplay about the television host’s affairs unless he coughed up $2 million. Cooperating with Manhattan District Attorney’s office, Letterman wrote a fake check and his blackmailer was arrested shortly after. While Letterman was met with some negative press following this shocking announcement, he eventually moved on from the scandal and hosted the “Late Show” for six more years before retiring in 2015.

#4: Oprah Winfrey vs. James Frey

James Frey hit the big time when his memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” was selected for Oprah’s Book Club in 2005. Chronicling Frey’s history with alcohol and drug abuse, the book became a New York Times bestseller and a cultural sensation. Many readers felt cheated, however, when it was revealed that Frey had fabricated information in his supposed true account. This didn’t reflect well on Oprah, who invited Frey onto her show to talk about the controversy. Oprah didn’t let Frey off with a slap on the wrist, eventually getting him to confess that he had made up parts of the story. She also brought on publisher Nan Talese to set the record straight.

#3: Conan O’Brien vs. Jay Leno

The original War for Late Night can be traced back to 1992, when Jay Leno became Johnny Carson’s successor, over David Letterman. This influenced Letterman to move from NBC to CBS, while Conan O’Brien was hired to fill the NBC late night time slot. History essentially repeated itself almost two decades later when Leno exited “The Tonight Show” so O’Brien could assume his hosting duties. Unfortunately, O’Brien’s ratings struggled and the decision to give Leno a primetime talk show turned out to be a huge miscalculation. Since pushing back the schedule wasn’t an option, O’Brien was given a $45 million payout while Leno returned to “The Tonight Show” in 2010.

#2: Jenny Jones’ Guest Gets Murdered

“The Jenny Jones Show” aired for over a decade, but it’s actually best remembered for an episode that never even aired. Entitled “Same Sex Secret Crushes,” the episode centered on a guest named Scott Amedure, who, on the show, revealed his crush to an acquaintance named Jonathan Schmitz. Three days after the episode was taped, Schmitz reportedly found a suggestive note from Amedure. Schmitz subsequently purchased a shotgun, shot Amedure two times in the chest, and alerted the authorities of the crime he had just committed. Having a history of mental illness, Schmitz was convicted of second degree murder. Meanwhile, “The Jenny Jones Show” faced a wrongful death lawsuit and was forced to pay Amedure's family $25 million.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable, or in this case dishonorable, mentions:

Kimmel Skit Which Joked About Killing Everyone in China

Pat O’Brien’s Lewd Voicemails

Bryant Gumbel’s Harsh Memo About Willard Scott


#1: Matt Lauer’s Sexual Misconduct Allegations

In rapid succession, from Bill O’Reilly to Charlie Rose, media personalities were publically accused of sexual harassment in 2017. However, the sexual misconduct allegations directed at Matt Lauer shocked audiences the most. A staple of “The Today Show” for almost 20 years, Lauer was abruptly fired after a female NBC employee accused him of sexually harassing her three years earlier. It became clear that this was unlikely an isolated incident, as more women came forward. In one instance, Lauer was accused of summoning a former employee to his office and sexually assaulting her behind a locked door. The fact that Lauer was such a beloved host only made this more disturbing.
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