Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck were mortal enemies throughout season 10 of The View in the mid-aughts, but the comedian apparently had different feelings offscreen.
“I think there were underlying lesbian undertones on both parts,” O’Donnell, 57, said in the new book Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View, according to an excerpt obtained by Variety. “I think this is something that will hurt her if you write it. She was the MVP of a Division 1 softball team for two years that won the finals. There are not many, in my life, girls with such athletic talent on sports teams that are traditionally male that aren’t at least a little bit gay.”
The SMILF star, who came out as gay in 2002, confessed that she had “a little bit of a crush” on the Survivor alum, but she never wanted to take their working relationship a step further.
“[It’s] not that I wanted to kiss her,” she explained. “I wanted to support, raise, elevate her, like she was the freshman star shortstop and I was the captain of the team. … I was going to Scottie Pippen her. If I was [Michael] Jordan, I was going to give her and the ball and let her shoot. But it was in no way sexualized.”
O’Donnell also used sports metaphors while describing how she gave advice to Hasselbeck, 41, about debating on TV: “Here’s what I said, ‘I’m the senior. She’s the freshman. I’ve got a really good player on the freshman team, but I have to teach her how to loosen up.’”
In May 2007, the Long Island native and the former Fox & Friends cohost argued for 10 minutes on The View about their opposing positions on the Iraq War. O’Donnell abruptly left the ABC talk show days later, three weeks before her contract was up.
“It felt like a lover breaking up,” O’Donnell recounted in Ladies Who Punch about her last day working with Hasselbeck, who was ultimately fired in 2013 as the show tried to become less political. “The fight that we had, to me as a gay woman, it felt like this: ‘You don’t love me as much as I love you.’ ‘I’ve taken care of you.’ ‘You have not.’ ‘How could you do that to me?’ ‘I didn’t do anything to you.’”
Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View hits bookstores on Tuesday, April 2.
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Us Weekly has reached out to Hasselbeck’s rep for comment.
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