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Joan Rivers lets the fur fly: Walks out of interview after 'negative' grilling

Joan Rivers walked off the set of a CNN interview which aired Saturday, after becoming incensed at anchor Fredricka Whitfield's "negative" line of questioning. Joan, 81, was appearing to promote her latest book "Diary of a Mad Diva." But Rivers became increasingly uncomfortable with Whitfield's barrage of what she felt was a negative line of questioning, and finally had enough and walked off the set.

Joan Rivers abruptly ended a CNN interview while promoting her new book, 'Diary of a Mad Diva', after the CNN reporter grilled her about being mean and wearing fur.
Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The interview, which was taped earlier this week, started out friendly, with Whitfield extolling Joan Rivers' multifaceted career as a standup comic, talk show host, movie star, and now host of E!'s "Fashion Police." But when the anchor called Rivers' fashion critiques very mean, and brought up the fact that she appears on the cover of her new book wearing fur, the octogenarian cut her off, according to the Daily News on July 5.

Joan said repeatedly that it's not mean, and that she tells the truth. Rivers compared her on-air comments to what people say to each other when they're watching at home.

Rivers went on to explain that when she makes harsh comments about celebrities' outfits, it's not meant as a personal attack. It is not about the person, but about the clothing.

Whitfield grilled the comedian about her take-no-prisoners brand of humor, and wanted to know if Rivers ever worried about her jokes offending people. In typical Joan style, she responded that if you can crack a joke to make something in life easier, and funny, then do it. "Life is very tough," she said.

"I’m sure I say the same things that all your viewers say to their friends sitting next to them on the couch,...We’re one of the few shows that says 'that’s an ugly dress.'...These ladies make $28 million a picture. You really think that Nicki Minaj cares I didn’t like her dress?"

However, when Whitfield went on to attack Rivers about the fact that she dons a fur coat on the cover of her new book, the interview took a decidedly nasty turn. The interviewer pointed out that the fur coat may draw criticism from animal rights activists.

That's when Joan erupted saying the whole interview was becoming defensive. She then quizzed Whitfield on whether she was wearing leather shoes. When the anchor replied yes, Rivers told her to shut up!

Whitfield countered that she could wear leather shoes since she's not an animal rights activist, unlike the comedian. "I don’t want to hear this nonsense," Rivers fired back, adding, "Come to me with a paper belt, and I’ll talk to you."

As Whitfield tried to regain some control of the interview, while still continuing with the same line of questioning, Rivers had obviously had enough. Joan announced that she was going.

Rivers chastised Whitfield, saying all she had done in the chat fest was negative. The legendary comedian defended herself saying she's made people laugh for 50 years, and the fur she wore was killed 15 years ago and that she works for animal rights.

Whitfield later stated that she thought perhaps Rivers walking out of the interview was a stunt. But off camera, Joan apparently kept her microphone on as she continued to talk, and dropped some rather unflattering four-letter words.

Rivers' appearance on the network to promote her new book, which just hit store shelves on July 1, followed closely on the heels of her last pseudo-scandal. Earlier in the week she made comments to a reporter in which she described President Obama as gay, and First Lady Michelle Obama as transgender, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Rivers hammered Whitfield that she is not the one to interview a person who does humor. After storming off set, she clarified through her publicist to THR that she does not do, and has never done, PR stunts.

Never one to shy away from controversy, Joan may very well have arrived at that point in her life where she no longer feels the need to hold her tongue, God forbid. The ground-breaking comedian has endured being blackballed by one of the giants of the entertainment industry.

Johnny Carson banned her from "The Tonight Show" after Rivers ventured out on her own to start her own late night talk show. She had been acting as Carson's regular fill-in. However shrewd Joan saw the writing on the wall, and knew she'd never inherit his seat when he retired, which was still many years off.

Joan noted that the CNN interviewer was a news reporter and not an entertainment reporter. The comedian pointed out that Whitfield did not seem to understand they were discussing a comedy book and not the transcripts from the Nuremberg Trial.

After airing the segment, the CNN anchor admitted she thought that Joan Rivers' exit was a joke, until she didn’t return to the interview. Before exiting, Joan borrowed from Winston Churchill, saying, "if you can make one person laugh, even for a minute, it's like giving them a little vacation."

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