Barbara Walters has announced her retirement from ABC. Uh, actually, she’s quitting next year, but thought it would be good to let the public know now so it will have time to digest and cope with this “tragic” news.

Walters is actually a historic figure in United States broadcast journalism -- she was the first woman to co-anchor a nightly network news show back in the mid-1970s. But now she is involved in something called “The View,” a daytime talk show that has been on the air for some 15 merciless years.

I have watched exactly five episodes of this program -- about five years ago -- and determined that it was five too many. When my ailing father was hospitalized, the TV in the room was set to “The View” because the patient next to him was a fan of the program. So, sitting there next to my father, I was forced to watch a program featuring a group of women sitting in a studio -- in front of an ever-applauding audience apparently in love with everything said -- as the women pretended to talk about politics, and other less serious topics.

I couldn't -- can't -- understand why anyone would watch this insipid drivel, nevertheless enjoy it. On the show, Walters has served as a kind of “mother hen,” not really involved in the verbal volleys between co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and someone named Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

Goldberg is a comic and actress of some sort, I knew, but I had no idea who the other two women were. (Behar is also a comedienne, while Hasselbeck is married to an NFL player.)

It seemed to me that Hasselbeck -- beautiful, but not the brightest bulb -- was playing the role of the “resident conservative,” while the two aggressive “liberals,” Behar and Goldberg, ganged up on her, making fun of her views on a variety of subjects. Walters worked as a kind of a referee to “rein in” the team of Behar and Goldberg when they went too far with poor little Hasselbeck.

What truly appalled me about this show was not just their shallow understanding of politics and social issues, but how utterly vulgar and tacky all the women were.

I am certain that the hostesses of “The View” consider themselves to be free-thinking, independent women (who obviously enjoy lucrative careers), but from my perspective they are helping to destroy things for the fairer sex in this country.

Vulgarity is not a good substitute for “strength” or “substance” and tackiness cannot stand in for “humor.” If the women of “The View” are regarded as some kind of “role model” for American women, then may God help all the gals in this once-great country.

I realize that a commercial network television program is dependent on ratings and cannot be “too serious” or “too intellectual,” but “The View,” which is controlled by Walters, goes too far the other way.

The hostesses’ ignorance and stupidity are on full display -- is this really what the public wants to see?

Then I realized perhaps ABC is very smart after all. Maybe this show was designed to annoy people so they could have something to hate for at least 30 minutes every weekday morning.

And there is much to hate here.

Behar and Goldberg are two of the most egregiously ignorant, shallow and unfunny women on the planet. (To avoid any charges of chauvinism, I will not even comment on their looks). Hasselbeck is as dumb as a kewpie doll, and with about as much character and charisma.

Walters comes out looking the best and smartest because she doesn’t say much and allows the others to make fools of themselves. I guess this qualifies as entertainment (in much the same way ancient Romans found it entertaining to watch lions tear human beings apart limb by limb in a public arena).

But shows like “The View,” which inexplicably attracts millions of viewers, reportedly mostly women, are doing females a grave disservice. They are promoting themselves as a “voice” for women’s issues, seemingly considering themselves as a kind of “vanguard of feminism.”

Instead, these people are clowns. They only represent themselves. They are pawns of a cynical mass media that believes the public will only watch TV shows they can laugh at, not necessarily with. Hence, the massive success of “reality” shows.

Barbara Walters and her ilk should have “retired” long ago. And that’s “The View” from me.