'The View' honors Barbara Walters with special episode, original hosts – USA TODAY

“The View” spent its first day back on air Tuesday after the holiday to honor the show’s founder, Barbara Walters, who died Dec. 30 at 93.
“(She’s) the reason we’re all sitting here,” Whoopi Goldberg opened the episode. “Really, if not for her, I don’t know where most of us would be.” 
Currents hosts of the ABC talk show, Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Sara Haines and Alyssa Farah Griffin, talked to several past co-hosts to celebrate and remember the pioneering journalist.
Debbie Matenopoulos recalled Walters taking “a huge chance” on her to join “The View” when she was just 22 years old. Matenopoulos was among the original panel of women selected for the show’s launch in 1997.
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She said Walters taught her everything, including helping her with her hair and wardrobe and honing her interviewing skills.
“It was like taking a masterclass in journalism with the most well-respected, well-renowned female journalist in history. It was unbelievable,” Matenopoulos said. “And a lot of people owe her so much – especially us women and women on television, not just journalism – but I owe her everything. I would not have this career if she did not choose me.”
Meredith Vieira, the first moderator of “The View,” praised Walters for allowing her to “reinvent” herself after 20 years in the news business. Although she was reluctant to do a talk show, her husband convinced her to go to the audition, she said.
“I find myself in this hotel room with you ladies and Barbara Walters. By the time that audition was done, I just wanted in,” she said. “I found it fun. It was innovative and groundbreaking. I just wanted to be a part of it.”
She added that Walters made her realize “you don’t have to stay on one path in life. It’s OK to veer off it.”
Another original host, Star Jones, reflected on attending parties and events with Walters as her plus one, saying “the best seat in the house at any social event was next to Barbara Walters because she could tell you everything about everybody in the room.”
“Everybody knows her as the brilliant, iconic journalist … but we got to dish with this woman in ways that other people will never ever appreciate. She was the best gossiper,” Jones said. “I will miss that more than anything because girl, if you wanted to know the tea, Barbara Walters had it.”
Other previous hosts who joined the show to pay tribute to Walters included Lisa Ling, Sherri Shepherd and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Between discussion from the hosts, the episode was packed with clips of Walters, including her less-serious moments in costumes for Halloween episodes (she never broke character as Marilyn Monroe, the women joked) and her hard-hitting interviews with politicians like Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. 
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Tuesday’s episode also marked the return of “The View” following renewed backlash around Goldberg’s comments on the Holocaust, in which she seemed to question whether the murder of 6 million Jews and others, was racially motivated.
More:Whoopi Goldberg denies ‘doubling down’ on Holocaust remarks after drawing criticism from ADL
In a January 2022 episode of “The View,” Goldberg drew criticism for saying the Holocaust was not “about race.” Almost a year later in December, she appeared to double down on her comments to The Sunday Times of London, suggesting Jews are divided on whether they are a race, religion or both.
Goldberg has since apologized again for her comments, saying her support for Jewish people “has not wavered and never will.”
Goldberg did not address the controversy on the show Tuesday. ABC or “The View” has not yet responded to USA TODAY’s requests for comment.
Always wanted more, and always got it:Commemorating career of TV trailblazer Barbara Walters
Contributing: Naledi Ushe

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