Fans of ”The View” haven’t been missing Debbie Matenopoulos. Since Lisa Ling took over her chair May 3, the show’s ratings have jumped a healthy 10 percent (compared to December, Matenopoulos’ last month on the air). But Ling, 26, isn’t getting cocky about her strong start: The fans — who post constant criticism of her on ”The View”’s website — won’t let her. ”People pick out the most minute things, things I didn’t even realize I did,” Ling tells EW Online. ‘I hold a pen on the set all the time because I always do, I guess it’s an old journalist habit. And people write in and say, ‘Why are you always holding that pen? It looks so stupid, let go of it.”’ Still, she continually returns to the site for more abuse and is determined to win these armchair critics over, one at a time. ”Some people write to me, ‘You suck, I can’t stand you, they shouldn’t have hired you,”’ she says. ”And I always write back, ‘Thank you. Your sentiments are so kind.”’
Ling is adjusting to her 15-hour shifts for the daily broadcast, but the real challenge is speeding up from the careful pace of her last job as an international correspondent for ”Channel One,” the satellite news show beamed into high schools. ”If I did a piece on the Taliban in Afghanistan (for ‘Channel One’),” she recalls, ”We’d plan the story for weeks, then go to Afghanistan for a couple of a weeks, then edit for a couple more. Now I’m live every day, and the topics are totally different, so I’ve gone from discussing Afghanistan to doing break-dancing segments (in one show).”
While the audience’s reactions and the day’s schedule concern her, the one thing that doesn’t is the fate of her predecessor. ”Debbie Matenopoulos doesn’t ever cross my mind,” says Ling. ”I came and I’m doing the job for which I was hired, and I don’t think about her or the role that I’m filling. For me, there’s no role. I’m just here to be me.” Be yourself, sure, but please lose that pen you’re holding!