LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walked off the set of TV's "The View" on Thursday after a shouting match with conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly about the planned mosque near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York.
Tempers flared on the daily talk show when a finger-jabbing Fox News host O'Reilly asserted that the planned Muslim cultural center and mosque near the old World Trade Center site was inappropriate because "Muslims killed us on 9/11."
In a noisy exchange, Goldberg uttered an expletive that was covered by a bleep, and Behar said "I don't want to sit here. I am outraged by that statement". The two women walked out, but returned a few moments later.
"The View" co-host, veteran broadcaster Barbara Walters, apologized to the studio audience, saying "we should be able to have discussions without washing our hands and screaming and walking off stage."
But Walters insisted that O'Reilly apologize, telling him,
"It was extremists. You cannot take a whole religion and demean them."
O'Reilly grudgingly responded; "If anybody felt I was demeaning all Muslims, I apologize."
Producers of the "The View" -- one of the most popular daytime talk shows on U.S. television -- declined to comment further saying "the show speaks for itself."
Plans for the so-called Ground Zero mosque have split Americans, prompted heated public demonstrations, and become a campaign issue the current round of congressional elections.
Critics say the proposal is insensitive to the families of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. About 60 of those who died were Muslims.
According to a poll in late September by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute some 80 percent of New Yorkers believe the Muslim group had a right to build the center near the 9/11 site, but 57 percent thought the location was inappropriate.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte