Joy Behar discusses her decision to exit “The View”; Barbara Walters, meanwhile, denied reports that Elisabeth Hasselbeck is leaving. (Donna Svennevik/ABC)

Right off the bat Monday morning, The Ladies of “The View” had to address all those press reports that erupted late last week as to the futures of two of the ladies: Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. According to various reports, both were exiting.

And what with Barbara Walters being back — after recouping from hitting her head and contracting chicken pox from some actor who had shingles — the conversation naturally turned to her:

“Here I am,” Babs began. “So last Thursday, I guess four or five days ago, Joy announced that she wanted to leave ‘The View’ and pursue other passages, which she will tell you about. Joy and I started the show together.

Joy concurred.

“I sort of feel that I discovered you, even though you were already doing stand-up,” Babs continued.

Joy took the high road and agreed to credit Babs with “discovering me for national TV.”

“Sixteen and a half years,” Babs marveled.

“Barbara, may I interrupt you?” Joy asked. Stupid question.

“I just want to say I’m your best statement,” Babs answered.

“You are,” Joy said, taking advantage of Babs’s having paused to take a breath. “But 16 years I was married, also. I don’t like jobs to last longer than my marriage.”

“That’s a very good reason,” Babs answered absently. “But I do have to say seriously, that when you announced this last week, it was very bittersweet. I want what’s best for you. I want what’s best for all of you. But I have to say I will miss you. And I know . . . .“ (That made it six “I’s” in all, in case you lost count).

Finally, Joy got to read her Top-10 Reasons for Leaving, starting with:

10. ABC won’t let me drink on the air like Hoda and Kathie Lee.

And ending with:

1. The number one reason I’ll be leaving ‘The View,’ I finally will have a chance to fulfill my dreams: going a whole week without putting on a brassiere.

Then, Babs grew serious.

“There is a particularly false story that keeps getting picked up about Elisabeth’s alleged departure, saying that we don’t approve of her conservative views. The truth is, we love Elisabeth. I like her personally, and she’s just a wonderful person. But beyond that, we value and appreciate her point of view. . .because Elisabeth helps give the show perspective and balance. And believe me, she’s tougher than she looks. She has to be, to sit here for a decade and take the kind of guff we give her. So we have no plans for Elisabeth to leave the show.”

The audience erupted into applause.