You would think that a groundbreaking TV show for women hosted by women would do its best every day to respect and uplift women.
Instead, ABC's "The View" — originally created by veteran journalist Barbara Walters to represent women "of different backgrounds, different generations and different opinions" — has devolved into an ear-splitting bickerfest of elite divas who scoff and sneer at those who do not enjoy their celebrity privilege or share their left-wing ideological values.
This week, the bratty, catty co-hosts' targets included the young women who competed for the Miss America title. Michelle Collins, a "comedian" who recently joined the show after establishing herself as a Tinseltown "gossip queen," savaged Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson. As the other anchors giggled out loud at Johnson's video clip, Collins mocked the Rocky Mountain beauty not for her looks or her politics, but for a lovely, earnest monologue she performed during the pageant's talent competition.
Wearing her hospital scrubs, sneakers and a stethoscope, the registered nurse recounted her conversations with a patient named Joe in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. When he requested changes in medications and treatments, Johnson explained to him that she couldn't because she was "just a nurse."
What she could do was provide kindness and comfort. One night, after discovering him in tears as the condition wore his spirits down, Collins told him he was "not just Alzheimer's. You are still Joe."
Joe responded gratefully: "Nurse Kelley ... you are not 'just a nurse.' You are my nurse, and you have changed my life because you've cared about me." With her voice cracking, Johnson shared her takeaway: "Patients are people with families and friends. You are not a room number or diagnosis in the hospital. You're a person. ... And Joe reminded me that I am a lifesaver. I am never going to be 'just a nurse.'"
Using her two minutes on a national stage to give voice to her underappreciated colleagues, Kelley made the three million nurses in her profession and their families justifiably proud. And she prompted viewers like me to reflect on our gratitude for the countless nurses in our lives who've benefited from their talent, dedication and compassion.
From the nurses in my neonatologist dad's NICU unit, to the many nurses in my own extended family across the country and around the world, to the hospice nurses who cared for my mother-in-law as she lay dying of stage IV melanoma last fall, to the many pediatric nurses who've cared for my daughter this summer, I can't count my blessings enough.
But Collins, channeling the Plastics clique in "Mean Girls," cackled condescendingly at Johnson's unique tribute to her profession: "There was a girl who wrote her own monologue, and I was like 'turn the volume up, this is going be amazing, let's listen. She came out in a nurse's uniform and basically read her emails out loud and shockingly did not win. I was like, that's not a real talent."
The naked institutional self-absorption of the shrews of "The View" is the opposite of the nursing culture. Ignoramus co-host Joy Behar, donning her smart glasses, chimed in with a derogatory jab at Kelley's uniform: "Why is she wearing a doctor's stethoscope?"
Collins dug in further: "She helps patients with Alzheimer's, which I know is not funny," she smirked, "but I swear you had to see it. ... I swear to God it was hilarious."
Question: Would these sniveling snobs have attacked Johnson with such callous glee if she had been wearing a Planned Parenthood uniform and holding a manual vacuum aspirator?
But I digress.
After a nationwide backlash that sent the Twitter hashtag "#nursesunite" trending in support of Johnson, "The View" harridans responded with a faux-pology that exposes why the show's ratings have plummeted and will continue to bleed. (Viewership is down nearly 50 percent among the core female 25-54 demographic this season, and ad revenue has dropped nearly 30 percent over the past year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.)
Collins, who had initially sneered on Twitter that nurses should "prescribe yourselves a Valium and let's just all relax," claimed her comments had been "misconstrued." After insulting viewers' comprehension skills, she disingenuously told the TV audience: "We love nurses. We adore you. We respect you. You guys are wonderful."
For her part, Behar confirmed the obvious: She's a phony, superficial idiot. "I did not know she was a nurse," she pleaded. "I just was not paying attention," Behar confessed. "I didn't know what the hell I was talking about."
These pampered, out-of-touch women earn multimillion-dollar salaries to represent their gender. What is their talent? Sucking up to other celebrity women, coddling Democratic politicians, faking on-set chemistry and camaraderie while squabbling about who sits where or who introduces what segment, and bullying any guests who dare to express unorthodox views.
No amount of chair shuffling can fix the collective Narcissistic TV Personality Disorder that plagues this spoiled "View." It's time to pull the plug.