And it wasn’t pretty.
CNN’s S.E. Cupp was the conservative frontrunner to take one of the two spots on the panel – until today – when their roundtable got so heated that O’Donnell equated Cupp with her arch nemesis Elisabeth Hasselbeck, RadarOnline.com has learned exclusively.
The View held mock tapings of the popular morning show on a nearby set Thursday as the final chemistry tests for all the lucky ladies, a source tells Radar.
And the panel included comeback host O’Donnell and current host Goldberg as the veteran View talking heads alongside Cupp and CNN legal expert Sunny Hostin.
“They did 15-minute 'Hot Topic' segments,” a source told Radar. “These were all top secret tests, but there was a live audience and everything was being taped.”
When the subject-matter turned to the international controversy involving the Australian couple who wanted their surrogate to abort one of their twins who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, things went awry – and fast.
“They were talking about the difficult decision families have to make. And S.E. said she thought it was ridiculous that abortion has become so easy. And Rosie and Whoopi pounced!” noted the source of what turned into a verbal melee.
“Rosie and Whoopi ganged up S.E. and just went after her. Rosie told her, ‘You’re just rattling off Republican talking points. That’s not what we need,’” recalled the source.
O’Donnell infamously -- and abruptly -- left the TV panel permanently seven years ago after a May 23, 2007, on-air blowup with controversial conservative castmate Hasselbeck.
“Rosie told S.E., ‘I will not let this turn into another Elisabeth Hasselbeck situation.
“‘I will not work with another Elisabeth Hasselbeck,’” continued the source, adding that Cupp looked “stunned” and Hostin looked like a “deer caught in headlights.”
“Whoopi said, ‘This isn’t about abortion.’”
And it went from bad to worse.
Cupp, who kept her cool, responded, “I’m just giving my opinion.”
O’Donnell retorted during the back and forth, “How old are you?” added the source.
Cupp responded, “What does that have to do with anything?
But the comedienne pressed on with, “‘Why aren’t you answering the question?’” said the source.
“It got so nasty that Whoopi said in front of the live audience, ‘Have you ever had to make that decision?’
“The audience gasped, the executives started freaking out, they had to cut. It was so uncomfortable. It was a massive train wreck,” continued the insider.
“It became so dirty, personal and nasty. It was a feeding frenzy on S.E. Cupp!”
Our source said the stormy segment is all caught on tape, but won’t make it to air – and it’s very possible neither will the popular political commentator.
“This killed her chances at this job. S.E. knows she’s out,” said the insider.
But Goldberg wasn’t done with her tongue-lashing – only this time Cupp wasn’t the one in her sights.
According to the source, a short time later while backstage Goldberg told the room of female contenders what she really thinks about the legendary journalist who created the Emmy Award-winning show: “’I’ve been working with a cranky 85-year-old woman who’s mad about everything and I need a break!’” the insider told Radar of her rant. “Now she’s trashing Barbara Walters in front of the girls!”
Drama aside, the ladies at the head of the panel pack on the verge of taking over for Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd are former George W. Bush communications chief Nicole Wallace, veteran news anchor Lauren Sanchez, former assistant U.S. attorney Sunny Hostin and October Gonzalez, added the source.