“My biggest regret was ever sitting down with him for 20 minutes, and that’s exactly what I did to appease my publicist,” the 57-year-old host told Us Weekly exclusively at the opening of Broadway’s Oklahoma! at Circle in the Square Theatre in New York City on Sunday, April 7. “But it’s my biggest regret.”
O’Donnell, who cohosted the ABC morning show from 2006 to 2007 and 2014 to 2015, has made headlines for several of her comments in the book, including dredging up her old feud with Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
“I think there were underlying lesbian undertones on both parts,” the comedian, who is openly gay, said in the book of the Survivor alum. “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.”
Hasselbeck clapped back at O’Donnell’s remarks during a March 26 episode of Fox & Friends. “I read it and I immediately started praying,” she said. “And I pray now the Holy Spirit gives me the words to articulate this, but I think it can be addressed with both truth and grace.”
O’Donnell also came under fire for slamming Kelly Ripa in Ladies Who Punch, more than a decade after the SMILF actress accused the Live With Kelly and Ryan cohost of being homophobic toward Clay Aiken. (In 2006, Ripa joked that she didn’t know where the American Idol alum’s mouth had been while he guest-hosted Live with her.)
“I had just held a crying boy and then watched him be gay-bashed by Kelly Ripa,” O’Donnell said in the book. “I think Kelly Ripa is mean and she doesn’t like me, and she has never wanted to discuss what happened. She wanted to have this weird feud.”
A source told Us, meanwhile, that O’Donnell “called” Ripa in 2006 to apologize for her remarks on The View about the situation.
“People around Kelly are confused why Rosie is bringing this up. This is absurd and offensive. Kelly has been supportive of and revered by the LGBTQ community,” a second insider told Us. “She has such love for them and the feeling is returned.”
Setoodeh, for his part, tells Us in a statement that he is appreciative O’Donnell was a part of his project.
“I’m grateful that Rosie O’Donnell sat down with me for an honest conversation for my book,” the author tells Us. “She fundamentally changed The View and is an influential part of the show’s history.”
Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View is available now.
With reporting by Nicki Gostin