In an taped interview that ran this afternoon on CNN’s Newsroom, anchor Fredricka Whitfield sat down with comedian and Fashion Police host Joan Rivers to discuss her show, her new book (Diary of a Mad Diva), and her upcoming Broadway appearances. But the discussion didn’t last long: Their conversation derailed after less than two minutes, when Rivers took offense at Whitfield’s line of questioning. Eventually, the octogenarian declared she had had enough and walked out on the interview, leaving a stunned Whitfield in her wake.
Things started going south when Whitfield suggested that Fashion Police—and, by implication, Rivers’s entire oeuvre—was “mean.” Rivers defended her show, saying, “It’s not mean. I tell the truth. I’m sure I say the same things your viewers say to their friends sitting next to them on the couch.” When Whitfield pressed on, pointing out that Rivers makes jokes about Casey Anthony and Princess Diana in her book, the comedian replied, “Life is very tough. And if you can make a joke to make something easier, and funny, do it.”
The situation elevated when Whitfield pointed out the seeming inconsistency between Rivers’s support for campaigns against animal cruelty and the fact that she wears fur. “This whole interview is turning into a defensive interview,” an obviously agitated Rivers declared. “Are you wearing leather shoes? Then shut up.”
Just under three minutes into the interview Rivers declared it over, stood up, and walked off camera—but not before lobbing one final insult Whitfield’s way. “You are not the one to interview someone who does humor,” she said. “Sorry.”
The terminated interview comes just days after Rivers, during an on-the-street interview, called Michelle Obama a “tranny” and made jokes implying the President is a closeted gay man.