BARBARA WALTERS livid that a leak about ELIZABETH HASSELBECK being booted from THE VIEW forced her to issue a non-denial-denial.

Reports that the fiery conservative blonde was being canned went viral March 8, resulting in Walters, who is also executive producer of the show, to make the unconvincing denial last Monday, saying “We have no plans for Elisabeth to leave this show.”

 “ABC is desperate to freshen up the show,” the source told The New York Post.

“Dumping Joy Behar, who was there 16 years, and Hasselbeck would be the fastest way to do it, they decided. After giving Behar the bad news last week and letting her bow out gracefully, someone leaked the Hasselbeck thing. Some enemies she has on the show saw their chance to get back at her. Barbara was spitting mad that it got mishandled.”

Hasselbeck may have been given a brief retrieve, the source says, but she’s “toast” as to any long term future on the show.

A rep for The View denied  Walters is angry, saying, “She LOVES these women and wants what’s best for them.”

RadarOnline.com  says Brooke Shields  is a leading contender to join the shows Chatty Cathys.