Updated from original post at 11:12 EDT.
Jeremiah Wright is on the Republican "payroll" according to View co-host Joy Behar. Discussing the Reverend Wright controversy, Behar offered her conspiracy theory of a Republican dirty trick: "I think Reverend Wright might be being paid by the Republicans. That's what I think." She emphasized: "He's on the payroll!" This is not the first time Behar has hypothesized on the evil genius of the right. The daytime diva accused Republicans of causing Democratic Senator Tim Johnson's stroke and wondered if the "right-wing" planted the bogus McCain/Iseman story. [audio excerpt available here]
Whoopi then chastised Hasselbeck and those who criticize Obama for his Wright connection: "To sabotage the first black president is outrageous." Behar expressed no such concern over her own smear of African-American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The controversy created a huge late morning fight as Elisabeth Hasselbeck strongly denounced Obama's ties and felt he should have cut off ties to Wright a long time ago. What set Obama off, according to Hasselbeck, were not the anti-American sermons, but that Wright called Obama a "politician."
"It wasn't when he said that the white man infected the black man with AIDS that got Obama ticked off. No, he waited until Reverend Wright said "oh he's acting like a politician." And then that ticked Obama off! [light applause] Now that it's personal with Obama, he's so full of himself that it's not until the attack got personal that he decided to step up."
Whoopi and Joy sought to justify Obama's connection to Wright by pointing to despicable rhetoric by other pastors loosely associated with some Republicans. Whoopi Goldberg noted Falwell's blaming 9-11 on those advocating a more libertine society. Joy Behar mentioned John Hagee, who endorsed McCain, and blamed hurricane Katrina on a gay pride parade. Although these comments are indefensible, it does not justify Wright's extremist remarks and neither of these men were McCain's pastor for 20 years. Elisabeth Hasselbeck noted "that has nothing to do with McCain. Someone supporting you is not the same as you choosing someone for 20 years time and time again, different."
The entire transcript is below.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Obama was upset yesterday. He was upset. And he called Reverend Wright divisive and destructive. And Reverend Wright is not backing down of course. But why is Obama taking all of the heat while Hillary's mistakes and McCain's mistakes have been sort of- we all said "yes you made a mistake, okay, you're fine you're fine." He said "I was, I made an error in judgment. I got away from the man." Then he disappeared. Wait a minute.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK: He sort of got away from the man.
GOLDBERG: No he didn't. He got away from the man. He said "I'm no longer going to that church." And he didn't.
HASSELBECK: He did not disown him.
HASSELBECK: He didn't.
GOLDBERG: Elisabeth, do you have to disown? Now there's- you, you said to him he needs to distance himself from Reverend Wright.
HASSELBECK: No, I thought he should have a long time ago. I thought he should have 20 years ago.
GOLDBERG: But when he did it, you weren't satisfied.
HASSELBECK: No, no a lot of people weren't.
GOLDBERG: I'm sorry. I'm just, I'm just talking to you though.
HASSELBECK: I know, but you asked me a question. I answered the question.
GOLDBERG: What was the question? I don't know what the question was. [laughter] But I'm simply saying that yesterday he once again came out and said "I don't subscribe to what this man says. I don't believe that his beliefs reflect mine."
GOLDBERG: Now, you say "hmmm," and I say to you okay when- should I think of John McCain as a racist because 20 years ago he didn't see the, the value in making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a holiday and then 16 years later, or however many years later, he says "you know what I made a mistake"? "I made a mistake." Should I think to myself oh well now are you closet racist because at one time you said "gee, you know, the, the flag, that southern flag-"
SHERRI SHEPHERD: The Confederate flag.
JOY BEHAR: The Confederate flag.
GOLDBERG: "-the Confederate flag is a terrible, terrible thing" and now you're saying "oh it's a part of history," should I be questioning that? No.
HASSELBECK: Can I respond?
GOLDBERG: Because he said- you can let me just finish the thing. Because he's made these assertions, as have all of our candidates. We have all seen, Jerry Falwell said that, that the towers came down because of gay folks and, you know-
GOLDBERG: -the lesbians. And we said "you know that's terrible" and that played on the TV for two days and then it was gone. This Reverend Wright thing has lasted and lasted and lasted. And I think it's because they couldn't find another way to get to Obama to scare people.
HASSELBECK: Really? Or is it that Reverend Wright keeps coming out, so that's why we're still talking about it? [light applause] Here's my issue with it. My problem is, and I find it almost hysterical, and I don't agree with anything that Reverend Wright has said thus far that we've heard, except for the fact that I sort of understand why he's so ticked at Obama because for 20 years these two tight. And now all of a sudden it's not cool with the polls in America that they were tight and Reverend Wright was his spiritual adviser. Obama decides to all of a sudden push himself aside.
GOLDBERG: Not all of a sudden. Not all of a sudden.
HASSELBECK: Hang on- because it wasn't when, it wasn't when Reverend Wright said that we got what we deserved on 9-11. It wasn't when he said "the chickens came home to roost."
GOLDBERG: But why is that-
HASSELBECK: Let me. I let you finish. I let you finish.
GOLDBERG: Yes, but now you talked over me.
BEHAR: We're here too by the way.
HASSELBECK: It wasn't when-
GOLDBERG: Well, say something.
BEHAR: I can't get in the conversation.
HASSELBECK: It wasn't when he said that-
BEHAR: There has to be a period at somebody's sentence.
HASSELBECK: It wasn't when he said that the white man infected the black man with AIDS that got Obama ticked off. No, he waited until Reverend Wright said "oh he's acting like a politician." And then that ticked Obama off! [light applause] Now that it's personal with Obama, he's so full of himself that it's not until the attack got personal that he decided to step up.
GOLDBERG: You didn't- you were looking for something and then you found it. Go ahead.
BEHAR: Yeah, I think Reverend Wright might be being paid by the Republicans. [laughter and applause] That's what I think.
SHEPHERD: You know, you know for me, I-
BEHAR: He's on the payroll!
SHEPHERD: For me I really respected Obama when he said "I can not disown this is a friend of mine." I absolutely respected that. If you looked at Obama's face when he said "this is over," he looked so hurt to me.
BEHAR: Didn't he?
SHEPHERD: I thought he looked so hurt. He did not want to do this I think a little bit what just Wright has done. I thought, you know, I thought it was a pride thing that he came out and said this. And, I just feel very badly. A friendship has been torn. I don't feel he's full of himself at all.
HASSELBECK: Lack of judgment on his part.
BEHAR: Look, the guy comes out, Obama comes out and he says, "you know, this is my spiritual adviser. This is like an uncle, and I don't, I can't disown him completely. He's like a family member, although I disagree with what he said." This other one, Jeremiah, with the ego the size of Australia, comes out and says "that was a political remark." That wasn't a political remark. That was a, you know, that was a very nice thing that he did actually. He didn't disown his, his sort of uncle, the guy who baptized his kids, et cetera. And now this one says that it's political. That's very cynical.
HASSELBECK: It is, it is political because when Barack Obama decided to run for president and at the invocation was originally going to have Reverend Wright give the blessing. He thought "too heavy for America. Why don't you just pray for me downstairs under cover and I'll keep you hidden a little bit and then I'll go out and talk to the people?"
BEHAR: Elisabeth, isn't it political to wear a flag pin when you really don't give a damn? Is that political? A lot of things are political. We're in a political year. People are running for president. To, to sabotage the first black American who's at this point is outrageous to me.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Go Joy!
BEHAR: It's outrageous. Can I just finish this? This Reverend Hagee, this Reverend Hagee who endorsed McCain, he says "all hurricanes are acts of God because God controls the heavens." Really? "I believe New Orleans has a level of sin that was offensive to God." Blame the people in New Orleans. "And they were recipients of the judgment of God for that. There was going to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that Katrina came," says this nutjob.
HASSELBECK: He supports McCain!
BEHAR: And this nutjob is endorsing McCain.
HASSELBECK: That has nothing to do with McCain. Someone supporting you is not the same as you choosing someone for 20 years time and time again, different.