Fire Whoopi Goldberg? That Won't Fix What's Wrong with 'The View' (Or Anything Else on TV)

(Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Shouting “Fire Whoopi Goldberg!” on Twitter or Facebook might feel good, but getting rid of The View star for her idiotic comments on the Holocaust won’t fix anything.


Her network temporarily suspended Goldberg early on Tuesday. ABC News President Kim Goodwin said in a statement, “Effective immediately, I am suspending Whoopi Goldberg for two weeks for her wrong and hurtful comments.”

But that might not be the end of her troubles.

Page Six reports that insiders at ABC — which produces and broadcasts The View — say that Goldberg is “in deep s**t” and needs to be given the heave-ho.

The New York Post‘s (in)famous gossip page was told that “ABC staffers and Disney Network execs are saying Whoopi went way too far. And board members are not happy with her apology and want a fuller retraction.”

Worse for the 66-year-old former actress and semi-funny comedian, “Many at the network — including her fellow hosts — believe Whoopi is too controversial now for the show.”

Let’s be clear about two things.

The first is that no one at ABC cares much about the actual content of what Goldberg said. Their only real concern is that she generated the kind of controversy that can kill ratings or, even worse, convince advertisers to abandon the long-running infotainment program.

The second is that I, your humble media critic, don’t care much one way or another what happens to the culture-appropriating former Caryn Elaine Johnson. And that’s because the rot runs much deeper than just Goldberg. It runs much deeper than The View. It even runs much deeper than ABC or any of the other news networks.


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This might seem a strange thing for someone who’s been doing what I do for the last 20 years, but I don’t watch TV news. I don’t even watch TV news-ish chat shows, whether it’s the usually estimable Tucker Carlson on FOX or the reprehensible propagandists at MSNBC or the ignorant chatterboxes on The View.

The reason is simple, although it took me years to properly explain it, even to myself: Television is just a terrible medium for imparting vital information.

Maybe it once was and maybe it could be again, but I see very little evidence for either proposition.

“Being good on TV” is an uncommon skill — that’s why the big players get paid so well. But “being good on TV” is a skill that rarely overlaps with “being knowledgable, balanced, and able to communicate those things via a visual medium.” And even if that overlap was common, it wouldn’t matter because the economics, the incentives of TV news, wouldn’t support it.

TV is a visual medium, meaning it’s best at conveying impressions and feelings and inducing emotional responses.

It always comes down to survival of the fittest, and in TV Land, the fittest aren’t the most knowledgeable or balanced. The fittest tend to be the prettiest, the most sensationalistic, and those who are best at generating strong emotional responses from viewers.


Goldberg has two outta three, and that ain’t bad.

So go ahead and fire Whoopi Goldberg… or don’t. But if she does get fired, the economics of TV infotainment require that ABC News hire someone pretty much just like her.

Our problem isn’t that our TV “news” people say controversial things. Our problem — and this extends far beyond just TV — is that we promote ignoramuses into positions of seeming authority where they (and their audiences) give themselves far too much regard.


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