In 2006, Ripa cohosted her show with Aiken, memorably snapping at the "American Idol" alum when he put his hand over her mouth. "I don't know where that's been, honey," said Ripa, a statement that elicited quite a response from Rosie.
On "The View" the next day, O'Donnell accused Ripa of being "homophobic" with that reaction. "If that was a straight man, if that was a cute man, if that was a guy that she didn't question his sexuality, she would've said a different thing," said Rosie. Ripa hit back, saying O'Donnell's claims were "downright outrageous" and a rift continues between them to this day.
"I think Kelly Ripa is mean and she doesn't like me, and she has never wanted to discuss what happened," Rosie said in the book (via Us). "She wanted to have this weird feud. She's the girl from Pine Valley. She and her husband met on the show. That's my f–king sweet spot. I would have loved her my whole life. I see her at concerts sometimes. She just looks away."
As for why she spoke up for Aiken, O'Donnell said she had met Clay a few days prior when he was a guest on "The View." Though he was not out yet, he confided in her about his sexuality. "So I had just held a crying boy and then watched him be gay bashed by Kelly Ripa," she explained.
In Aiken's eyes, Rosie's on-air defense also basically "outed" him to the world.
"The truth is she outed me in a way, because I had not been out yet. When she said the words, 'If that was a straight man,' she was confirming that she knew that I wasn't," Aiken said in the book. "That was the worst day of my life. I don't think I'd had a moment more devastating to me. I remember feeling like shit that day and totally defeated. But I definitely wasn't mad at her."
He officially came out in 2008, after Rosie connected Aiken with her own publicist.
In the book, O'Donnell also expressed outrage over the show's then-executive producer, Bill Geddie, orchestrating an on-air phone call from Ripa. "Geddie thinks that makes good TV -- two women fighting," she said, adding that she spoke up after it happened. "I said, 'Excuse me Bill, that would be the first time that you sabotaged me live on the air. It will not happen again. If it does happen again, I will not be on the show. When it happened again, I left."
In April 2007, ABC announced Rosie's contract wouldn't be renewed, a decision another excerpt from the book alleges was all but made by Barbara Walters.
Following the backlash from Donald Trump over her on-air impression and negative attention on the show thanks to the Ripa drama, Waters and Geddie were reportedly over O'Donnell as cohost.