Lisa Ling was a co-host on The View from 1999 to 2002. Supposedly leaving the show to cover more hard news stories, Ling’s announcement of her departure led audiences to believe her exit was voluntary. Yet in researching for his explosive 2019 book about the daytime talk show, author Ramin Setoodah discovered that Ling had actually been fired.
Lisa Ling wanted to work with Barbara Walters on ‘The View’
When The View premiered in 1997, Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Joy Behar, Debbie Matenopoulos, and show creator Barbara Walters each had a seat at the now-famous table. Matenopoulos was fired in 1999, prompting show producers to open the chair up to their monumental audience base.
Ling was a reporter at Channel One News when she decided to give The View a shot. Though the daytime talk show didn’t report on the hard news stories she liked to cover, Ling wanted to work with a broadcasting legend.
“Frankly, I never watched The View,” she told Setoodah, author of Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View. “I found out about the position kind of late. If Barbara Walters is attached, I’d love to try.”
After a thorough search of candidates, Ling was brought on as a panelist to replace Matenopoulos.
‘The View’ had lower ratings with Lisa Ling
Ling made her on-air announcement that she was leaving The View in November 2002, saying she had an opportunity to host MSNBC’s National Geographic Explorer. With Ling’s news background and love of travel, the new job seemed like a perfect fit and made sense for the co-host. Walters backed up Ling’s statement during the show.
”Some three years ago, when, after a long search, we were fortunate enough to have Lisa join us,” Walters remarked on the air at the time. “I said, ‘You should stay with us about three years, we know you want to be a reporter. And then you should think about spreading your wings.’ And unfortunately, she took our advice.”
Yet Setoodah’s digging unveiled a different story, with the discovery that Ling was terminated due to low ratings. Partially attributing the lackluster numbers to Ling’s refusal to share personal details or verbally spar with her co-hosts, show producers wanted to add more fire to the “Hot Topics” table.
“One of the things I uncovered in my reporting was that Lisa was actually fired from the show,” Setoodah told Salon in 2019. “We all thought as viewers, Lisa wanted to move on and to do other kinds of reporting, but they felt that the numbers weren’t going up with Lisa at the table. … There was this need for more tension and more drama.”
Lisa Ling never felt comfortable sharing personal details on ‘The View’
Now on CNN, Ling commented in Setoodah’s book on how The View’s push for personal tidbits was causing her great conflict.
“Growing up in an Asian family, I was always told to keep my private life private,” the journalist told Setoodah. “These women had a forum to talk about everything, including their personal lives. … I felt like I was doing as much as I could. But at a certain point, it would upset people in my life when I would talk about them without permission.”
Ling went on to pursue her true calling in hard news reporting, even teaming up with Oprah Winfrey for her network’s show, Our America. She still looks back fondly on the daytime talk show.
“I owe a lot to my time on The View,” Ling said. “Not only did I learn about how to be better on television, but I became a much more open person. I would say I’m a lot more liberated.”
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