Barbara Walters said on "The View" on Monday that Elisabeth Hasselbeck has not been fired, contrary to numerous reports last week.
According to Us Weekly, Walters, who walked onto the set arm-in arm with Hasselbeck, said, "The truth is, we love Elisabeth ... beyond that, we value and appreciate her point of view. It's important to us because Elisabeth helps give this show perspective and balance ... we have no plans for Elisabeth to leave the show."
Walters also added "(Executive producer) Bill (Geddie) and I have always said that when one of you makes the choice to leave, that is your choice, and we will support your decision."
A source told Us Weekly the denial is part of a strategy to "save face" for both Hasselbeck and the series. Producers are "just leaving the door open for Elisabeth to announce she is leaving on her own when she is ready," the insider explained. "They don't want to make her look bad and don't want to make the show look bad for canning her. They just want to make it seem like Elisabeth decided to leave on her own when the announcement comes."
People.com reported that Brooke Shields is in the running to be Hasselbeck's replacement. Joy Behar -- the only other remaining panelist other than Walters -- announced last week that she leaving the show.
Star Jones departed the show in 2006, and before her surprise, on-air exit, Walters had denied rampant
Flash forward to a couple months from now: Hasselbeck's contract wasn't renewed and the denials about her leaving were to "protect" Hasselbeck.
Us Weekly reported last week that Hasselbeck received negative feedback in a viewers poll, who "said she was too extreme and right wing," a source said, of the conservative 35-year-old mother of three. Hasselbeck joined the show in November 2003, after a guest-hosting stint following Lisa Ling's 2002 departure.
As far as Shields goes, "She has been asked to co-host a few times," a source told People.com. "They love her and she enjoys it."