Vieira admitted that she often "worried" about Hasselbeck, when she was a host, because of the possibility that her conservative-leaning political stances would get her pigeonholed as a voice of the right.
"I felt that they were trying to make her into the conservative voice and put words in her mouth, and I don't think that's a good place to be," Vieira, 65, shared. "When you're new in television, sometimes you agree to things you might not otherwise. And when you're trying to find your voice, it's important that, that voice be authentic."
"So, I feel she took a lot of heat for things she might not necessarily have believed in wholeheartedly," she added.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck Returns to 'The View' After Opening Up About Being Fired From the Show
Hasselbeck's abrupt firing is one of many different recent stories of behind-the-scenes drama and turmoil from the The View's time on air, but Vieira said that, when it comes to in-fighting or cast bickering on shows, she'll often "miss a lot of stuff" that goes down.
"Every job I've had, I go in and I get out," she recalled. "When I did the Today show, I never went to my office [in 30 Rockefeller Plaza]. I never went near it because people wore suits and I just thought, 'No good can come of this.'"
"I stayed in my dressing room. I got in at 5 a.m., did the show, got changed and took off, because I wanted to be home or I had [Who Wants to Be a Millionaire], for a certain number of weeks out of the year. So I missed a lot of the intrigue, certainly, with The View, for the same reason. I would do the show and then go home."
"She's funny, she's smart, she's got a little bit of sarcasm to her, she tells the truth, she has the biggest heart," Vieira marveled. "She makes you feel like you're home."
Vieira said she felt a particular appreciation for Gifford's "kookiness" on and off screen, and recalled how they used to play games during the show, and the departing host used to get "scary competitive."
Kathie Lee Gifford Prepares to Exit 'Today': ET Sits Down With KLG & Hoda! (Exclusive)
"But she showed who she was when her husband, Frank [Gifford] died, and she came and spoke on the air about that," she recalled of the difficult time in Gifford's life in August 2015. "She was so moving and it was real, how she handled that loss and that love that was gone."
"I'm watching that and I thought, 'Boy, for all other people who are watching, who are going through something in their life at that moment, how calming she must have been for them and reassuring [them] that it will be okay,'" Vieira added.
ET recently spoke with Kotb about the emotional transition period, and she reflected on some of her favorite memories of being Gifford's friend and co-host, and teased what fans can expect from the fourth hour of Today in the future. Check out the video below to hear more.