Joan Rivers walks out of softball CNN interview: was she justified?


I actually saw this happen live on CNN when I was at the gym on Saturday. CNN weekend anchor Fredricka Whitfield was interviewing Joan Rivers about Joan’s new book, Diary of a Mad Diva, when the interview just took a weird turn. To be fair to Joan, Fredricka Whitfield was sort of all over the place as an interviewer. To be fair to Fredricka, she was just asking Joan the sort of questions that anyone would ask – like, “Do you think Fashion Police is too mean?” or “why are you wearing fur on your book cover?” Here’s the video:

To me, it seems like Fredricka wasn’t conducting the best interview but Joan just had a hair-trigger temper. Joan shouldn’t have stormed out of the interview like that – it was unprofessional and unnecessary. If Joan can’t answer softball questions from a CNN weekend anchor, why is she doing any press for the book at all?! Joan released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter following the CNN thing, saying:

“I do not do, and never have done, PR ‘stunts.’ The CNN interviewer was a news reporter and not an entertainment reporter. She did not seem to understand we were talking about a comedy book and not the transcripts from the Nuremburg Trial. [Sic] Every question was an accusatory one designed to put me on the defensive. She seemed to miss the point that “Diary of a Mad Diva” is simply a very funny book and as Winston Churchill said, if you can make one person laugh, even for a minute, it’s like giving them a little vacation.”

[Via THR]

Yeah… the CNN anchor wasn’t really going after Joan at all. Joan could have answered those questions easily if she had been in a better mood. And even though she claims she wasn’t stunt-queening, this whole thing feels very stunt-queeny.

Photos courtesy of Getty, WENN, Fame/Flynet.

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86 Responses to “Joan Rivers walks out of softball CNN interview: was she justified?”

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  1. India says:

    I am glad Joan walked out of that interview. The interviewer needed to be taken down. She was negative and she was going after Joan. She doesn’t “get” Joan who is one of the greatest comediennes of all time.

    • Nikollet says:

      I don’t know, I felt that the interviewer did get who Joan is, and was just asking what anyone would ask. I would have expected Joan to instead laugh off the questions or say something outrageous or inflammatory in response because that’s her style.

      She’s not usually so sensitive, which sets off the skeptic in me and leads me to think this is a stunt. And it worked – I wouldn’t have known she had a new book out otherwise…

    • Tanguerita says:

      “… greatest comediennes of all time” – you must be in a really trolly mood.

      • Petee says:

        Tanguerita.I love both Lucy and Betty but they were not stand up comedians like Joan is which is a whole different thing.She was a trailblazer for most female comedians and they often say so too.I am going to be 51 and she has been around as long as I can remember watching old variety shows.I love the Fashion Police and it is the only thing I watch on the E!Channel now that has turned into the Kardashian channel.People cut her some slack,she is going to be 82.

    • Artemis says:

      Nah, everybody ‘gets’ Joan, that’s the problem. And the woman is not funny. I saw her on The Apprentice and she wasn’t funny and I watched some of her old clips. She’s as funny as all those comedy dudebros with their lame cheap humour at the expense of minorities etc. Lucille Ball and Betty White are 1000x better and you can tell because they are/were A-list and Joan is on the D-list selling everything she can to stretch her relevance.

    • Lily says:

      Come on. Joan is one of these people who can give but CAN’T TAKE any criticism. Being comedian doesn’t give you right to be a jerk.

    • Faye says:

      Joan Rivers has a problem with negativity? That’s rich. Isn’t that the basis of her whole show/career at this point? Guess she doesn’t like it when the shoe is on the other foot.

      • OhDear says:

        I know, right? Much respect for her for getting to where she is now, especially how difficult it was for women comedians when she was starting out. However, if she’s going to dish it (esp. when some of her jokes are vile – e.g. the one about the women who were held prisoner for years in Ohio) out she’s going to have to be able to take it, too.

      • MaiGirl says:

        What you said, OhDear. I have to give Joan respect because she really was a trailblazer as a female comedian, but I have never liked how caustic and tasteless she can be. I will not give her a pass just because she’s a legend–that “joke” about the kidnapped women was in no way funny, and as an old school comedian with real chops, she can and should do better!

    • Sandy says:

      India–I agree. Whatever you think about Joan Rivers (I think she’s funny sometimes, and sometimes just mean), Fredericka was a total b***ch! Every question she asked forced Joan to defend herself . And every time Joan answered her politely, Federicka grimaced, smirked, and then re-phrased the question, implying she didn’t believe the answer. People want to dump on Joan? Have at it. But don’t act as if Federicka Whitfield was right to be a nasty and lazy interviewer!

      • enya says:

        I agree. That interviewer looked and sounded like a complete idiot. A teenaged idiot. Watching all of that head-tossing and nose-scrunching, I was just waiting to hear, “Like, TOtally! Gag me with a spoon!” And she’s actually a news reprter? Has she ever considered, um, trying to keep her head still for 15 seconds? I don’t much care for Joan Rivers, but I’m totally Team Joan on this one.

      • maybeiamcrazy says:

        The questions she asked weren’t the only problem. She asked them in a condescending manner. She looked like she was teasing Joan. Not very professional.

        I can’t believe I just kind of defended Joan Rivers.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I completely disagree. What Fredericka was doing, was serving up balls for the comedian to hit. She wasn’t being negative, she was just being light hearted and allowing Joan to do her thing (complete with pre-scripted jokes).

        This is like a “flop” in basketball. Fredericka gave her a minimal nudge, and Joan flailed her arms, cried foul, and went limping off the court even though no foul was thrown. This is a PR stunt completely.

    • deehunny says:

      @Nickolett– I don’t believe it was a stunt. I think Joan is pretty well known off camera for not being able to take what she herself dishes out. She “takes care of her own” but is known to have a short temper in a perfectionist, unreasonable sort of way. I wouldn’t be surprised if she thought it was bad press and freaked.

      Case in point– many years ago my Grandmother was at the Hampton and she was at a neighboring table. My 85 year old Grandmother tells me now how she’ll never forget what a scene Rivers made, being nasty and really mean to the waiters and all around her and generally causing a horrific scene. Now, my Grandmother is a pistol and is in NO WAY a delicate flower who has never caused a scene. So if she says that, then Rivers musta been a real pill!

    • Serenity says:

      Wow. India, I really hope you were being sarcastic. I thought Joan Rivers was being so unprofessional in this instance. I was stunned when she walked out because I thought, what? That’s not even hard-line or extreme negative questioning. I felt sorry for the reporter.
      Is that the type of comedian Joan is? Can dish it out but can’t take it?? Give me a break. I think this reflects poorly on her.

  2. Selina says:

    All I got from this is Fredricka is very charming and Joan is her usual hideous, corrupted self inside and out.

  3. Godwina says:

    Could be the unreasonableness and grumpiness that accompanies, for too many of us, old age. I expect to be a right prat in my 80s.

  4. Kiddo says:

    Stunt queen. Joan learned, from being on E, what it takes to get attention.

  5. Ice Queen says:

    Oh, it’s a stunt alright! I doubt she has a thin skin after 50 years in the business. And she doesn’t seem to me like the type of person who can’t take few “hits”. She usually has a come-back for any comment or question… Fredricka seemed like she wanted to have few points in her resume, not very professional but Joan could have handled this a lot better… Having said all that, I do like Joan, she is funny (most of the time)..

  6. Amy123 says:

    I don’t see how anybody could justify Joan walking out of the interview. They were legit questions. It’s annoying when people dish it out but can’t take it.

  7. MrsBPitt says:

    Joan just seemed like she was in a really bad mood. I’m sure she’s been asked similar questions many times, so it’s either a PR move to get people to talk about the book or Joan woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.

  8. jwoolman says:

    I don’t know why she just didn’t laugh at the questions, pointing out that this wasn’t Nuremberg transcripts…. Teachable moment and all that. She should have just taken over the interview.

  9. Abbott says:

    The Original Stunt Queen pulled another stunt queen move to promote her book. Didn’t get a whole lot of mileage out of the Kristen Stewart thing, I guess. That interviewer was an amateur, though.

  10. Liz says:

    Her face is so distracting – it looks so painful.

  11. Talie says:

    Joan has been on the defense the whole tour — the book isn’t being received the way she thought it would and of course, she’s blaming the usual: People just hate her irrationally.

  12. don't kill me i'm french says:

    It’s just a RP stunt to talk/sell her book

  13. Jill says:

    I think Joan overreacted but the interviewer was really annoying. She was making weird faces the whole time.

    • Steph says:

      Yea I watched the clip on CNN and I found the interviewer incredibly annoying. It’s like she was trying to “tease” Rivers with these questions or something. She kept making faces and repeated the same line of questioning after Joan was getting agitated. Then when Joan shot back at her about “are you wearing leather shoes” she just started laughing. It was all weird and uncomfortable.

    • original kay says:

      YES! what was with those stupid faces?
      She was terrible, could barely put her thoughts in complete sentences or questions.

      I liked Joan’s answers.

  14. Marianne says:

    Honestly, Joan is a hypocrite. She does not merely make jokes about clothes. If you’ve ever seen Fashion Police, you would know that she also makes quite rude jokes about people’s personal lives and even their children, sometimes. She’s nasty and vile. I don’t think she should act all offended that people do find her offensive. If you can’t take the heat, then stay out of the kitchen.

    That being said, I think the reporter could have been a bit more professional. It was kind of annoying how she would smirk and incessantly giggle.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Yes, she constantly makes jokes about Peter Dinglage (sp?) being short. I think that’s crossing the line. I’m sure his life would have been a lot easier if he’d been normal height. She makes jokes about rape and all sorts of other cruel things as well. She can be funny, but I don’t watch her anymore because of those things.

      • LadySlippers says:


        I’m with you.

        She can and used to be *very* funny and then she went from funny to just plain mean (and rape jokes are beyond mean). Which ain’t funny no matter who disagrees with me. I’d rather find someone to laugh with/at that doesn’t use cruelty as some kind of punch line.

    • Santolina says:

      Joan wants people to see her as some holy “bringer of laughter” but she’s hurtful to those who are the butt of her jokes and vengefully attacking when she feels wronged. Sorry Joan, what goes around comes around.

  15. Susannah says:

    Sandy (above) nailed it. Fredericka WAS going after Joan, from the tone of her very first question, condescending and know-it-all. Joan may be ribald, scatalogical, and, yes, sometimes mean, but the thrust of the Fashion Police is humorous black comment on stars’ clothing. From her initial question, Fredricka tossed her head back, looking haughty as she delivered (and re delivered) her prepared list of questions. I don’t blame Joan for leaving, with F’s repetitive yammering about fur. Fredricka seemed surprised, but she should not have been. Joan is too old and too experienced to have to put up with what my grandmother would have called “guff.”

    • JudyK says:

      And my grandma would have called it “blanny.” :)

    • Lucinda says:

      I agree. I don’t think Joan was angry. I think she was annoyed because she was essentially answering the same question over and over which was “Are you mean and do you think that’s okay?” It was phrased multiple ways but her facial expressions to Joan’s responses, in my opinion, showed she didn’t like Joan and she wanted to make her look bad but didn’t really have the skills to spar effectively. I would have left too. It’s a win for Joan. Everyone is talking about her now and she didn’t have to put up with an annoying little wanna be. I’m not a Joan Rivers fan but this interviewer was not very good at her job.

      • Melissa says:

        Agreed….that interviewer’s facial expressions were juvenile and meant to insult. She is just not good at her job! She was way out of her league in trying to spar with Joan. Joan is very brash….but if you see her stand up you will laugh your butt off.

    • Kimbob says:

      Oh Susannah! (I just had to say your name like that…LOL!) You are so right! I agree. Fredricka was being inflammatory from the get-go. I mean, come ON….Joan was there to answer questions about her BOOK, not get grilled like she was at Nuremburg, as Joan herself so aptly put it.

      Fredricka feigned “surprise” w/that offensive “O-face” she was doing when Joan was handing her ass to her when she’d had enough. That told me all I needed to know. If Fredricka was worth her salt, she’d have just asked Joan questions about HER BOOK, & maybe get some situational celebrity tidbits from Joan…and that would have been a good interview.

      But nooooooooo sir, Fredricka wanted to take a hard-hitting, journalistic stance, as if she was a journalist on 60 Minutes or one of those shows. For God’s sake, Joan was there to promote her comedy book….which is anything but serious! I can’t believe more people don’t see it this way, but…whatever. Fredricka is full of it, IMO. Got what she deserved.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Did we watch the same interview? Fredericka wasn’t trying to do a “hard-hitting” interview…it was Joan Rivers, not Putin, folks. Fredericka was being light hearted (hences the faces and laughing, etc.) because she was interviewing comedian about their funny book. She was giving her complete softball questions.

      • Steph says:

        But asking about fur/animal rights is sort of inflammatory. Softball questions would have been “tell me about your book” “do you have any inside celeb gossip you want to share” “why did you decide to write a book” stuff like that. Plus her stupid giggling and facial expressions were totally unprofessional. She just looked stupid.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        But I think Joan’s book is about all of her dealings with Hollywood and the fashion industry and the flack she gets for it, including PETA, etc. It is her schtick to be inflammatory….asking her about PETA is like asking Seinfeld about a puffy shirt. It is part of her repertoire, it is a part of her stock material. You serve Joan up with a question about PETA, and usually she has one of her many one liners about PETA ready to zig back.

        Such as [things actually said by Joan] , “”I just wish more animals were gay – people would pay more attention!”
        “No. 1, all the fur I wear has been killed over the years, and those furs would be lying in a cellar, but they have gotten to go to the opera.”

        She has made sooooo many jokes about PETA over the years (both for and against). Joan talking about or being asked about the organization is NOT uncommon or inflammatory.

  16. JudyK says:

    After watching the interview, I don’t blame Joan Rivers one iota for walking out. That interviewer was totally passive-aggressive. That’s something I simply cannot abide in anyone. She was the mean one, not Joan.

    Oh, and I would have gone back to the interview and dropped some four-letter words myself. Go Joan.

  17. Cinderella says:

    Fredricka’s interviewing skills are high-school caliber. Joan should have stayed and toughed it out. She’s been around way too long to be put down by someone who will never work with the legends Joan has.

  18. The Original Mia says:

    Let’s see…Joan Rivers thought the Ohio women who were held prisoner and raped for 10 years were ripe for joke material. She thinks nothing of calling Michelle Obama a tranny and the President gay. She & that no-talent daughter of hers were the worst human beings to the poker player on the Apprentice. Yet, I’m supposed to side with this old crone because someone asked her why she was insulting other women, why she supports animal rights yet wears fur. Please, cry me a river. She’s a bitter woman, who stopped being funny in the 80s. She can dish it, but can’t take it.

  19. Fan says:

    I am not trying to defend Joan. But I really agree that the guest has the right to walk out if you were being abused with questions. I had seen some guests who just sat there and took the abuses from the interviewers. It’s okay to walk out. There is no shame to that.

  20. Word Girl says:

    I like That Joan is a trailblazer, but that had nothing to do with the interview. The interviewer simply asked relative questions about Joan’s fame-whoring ways. Joan should have answered the questions with humor and charm. Everybody knows Joan loves to fat shame and poke fun at other people’s expense. Joan should have owned the moment instead of throwing a hissy fit like a 2 year old.

    • lisa2 says:

      That was my take too. She was asking Joan about jokes she made in her book. Joan had no problem talking about the joke she made about Kristen Stewart. Everyone at that time said Kristen was being ridiculous getting upset by the joke. So why is it different for Joan. She threw a small fit over questions about jokes she made about some issues people find very sensitive. Some things are not funny. Sorry.

      When Joan has guest on her show she asked them questions about tabloid stories so again why is it wrong to ask her about what she has put in her book. Joan is sensitive about this because this is probably what she is being asked on all the shows she goes on. I don’t mind her taking jabs at a dress or outfit. She is right they are just cloths. But she doesn’t stop there. She talk about their children and calls people whores and such. He jokes are no mean, and I had no problem with Fredricka calling her out on it.

      I can’t stand Chelsea Handler.. but Joan just called her out for how she has handled her leaving E.. Joan can’t talk.

      • Sassy says:

        Chelsea Handler is today’s Joan Rivers. She does basically the same schtick that Joan does. Late night host, irreverent shocking commnets, stand up tours. Is anyone old enough to remember Phyllis Diller? We should thank Chelsea for taking up the slack.
        Joan is a national treasure. Some of her “jokes” are cringe worthy, but I wouldn’t miss one of her shows. Her books aren’t bad either.

  21. LaurieH says:

    We seem to be living in an age of “gotcha” journalism, where so-called journalists (and I use the term exceedingly loosely) try to get celebrities to say something – anything – that can be taken out of context and then used to bludgeon them to death on social media – with extra points for destroying their careers. The gladiator pit known as “social media” gets another piece of meat to feed on and the so-called “journalist” earns an extra 15 minutes of fame.

    Joan has been around too long, has seen too much, and let’s face it – is just too old to give a flying fig about this stuff anymore. Good for her.

  22. joan says:

    Sounds like Rivers wasn’t even asked about that recent, awful-looking video of her calling the Pres. gay and First Lady “a tranny.” Besides the comments sounding crude and Fox News-ish, she looked like she’d had a stroke or was drugged up — slurring, flat affect, scary.

    Rivers needs to be pinned down on air with that video. It’s not funny, and she looks terrible, so if she thought the CNN thing was bad, this would really set her off.

  23. posh says:

    So Joan Rivers deigns to get pissed off, but has the right to diss people as she pleases….grow up botox queen.

  24. Tulip says:

    They’re both idiots. Fredricka looked like her boss gave her an assignment she didn’t want and told her to be upbeat about it even if it killed her. It would’ve been better if Fredricka just owned her anger. As for Joan, it would’ve gone down better maybe, MAYBE, if she said humor on awful subjects brings up things that people are thinking about, but don’t want to say. Both of them did not bring their “A” game.

  25. I think the “Winston Churchill” quote is the funniest thing here.

  26. Angee says:

    Come on. You KNOW already who Joan River is and how she works. Don’t interview her just to “catch her” in her own hypocrisy. We’re all hypocrites if you look close enough. This reminds me of the Katie Couric interview where she trapped Sara Palin; not tough to do. I guess these interviewers feel really proud of themselves.

  27. Xantha says:

    What, I’m supposed to feel sorry for a racist, transphobic asshole who only proved that women comedians can be just as big assholes as male comedians?

    Nope, not doing it. Not sorry.

  28. L. says:

    Ya that interviewer was a twit. Team Joan on this one. I wish more people would walk out of interviews instead of sitting there as the interview tries to make them fell uncomfortable. Fredricka or whatever tried to bring up that Joan was mean none stop. Guess what Joan dosnt think she is being mean. Your not going to get anymore from that question… Move on. She won’t agree with you the 5th time you bring it up!!