Things were testy at the very start of Fredricka Whitfield’s interview of Joan Rivers on CNN, and they only got worse.
In fact, Saturday’s contentious chat did not last three minutes as an apparently angry Rivers unplugged her earpiece and walked off the CNN set, leaving Whitfield sitting in disbelief.
Appearing on CNN just a day after the firestorm of controversy erupted when the 81-year-old comic said Barack Obama was the first gay president of the United States and called first lady Michelle Obama a “tranny,” Rivers walked out of an interview she deemed unfriendly.
But her problems with the CNN interview were not related to the comments about the Obamas.
The comic was on the channel to promote her new book, “Diary of a Mad Diva,” and took exception with Whitfield’s opening statement about her “Fashion Police” reviews of outfits worn by celebrities to premieres and awards shows.
After the CNN host called Rivers’ fashion comments “mean,” Rivers fired back with a rebuke: “It’s not mean, it’s not mean, it’s not mean. It’s not mean. I tell the truth. I’m sure I say the same things that all your viewers say to their friends sitting next to them on the couch.”
But Whitfield continued with her contentious line of questioning: “Do you feel like there are boundaries ever, even if it makes people uncomfortable…?”
Rivers, visibly irritated, shot back, ”Life is very tough and if you can make a joke to make something easier and funny, do it. Done. Do it. That’s all.”
What triggered the comic to yell at the anchor and leave the set was a question posed by Whitfield about Rivers wearing fur on the cover of her new book.
With that Rivers unleashed a volley for the ages: “All you have done is negative…I am put on earth to make people laugh! My book is funny! I wear fur that was killed 15 years ago! I work for animal rights!…You are not the one to interview a person who does humor! Sorry!”
After Rivers’ departure, Whitfield told the audience in a separate segment, “I thought she was joking the whole time but in the end we wondered, ‘Was this a stunt?’” But the host said Rivers was serious.
Watch the very brief but testy exchange:
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