Rivers, who dishes out her own cutting commentary on E!'s Fashion Police, was apparently unhappy with Whitfield's line of questioning.
The interview went south when Whitfield characterized Rivers' Fashion Police jokes as "mean."
"It's not mean, it's not mean, it's not mean. I tell the truth," Rivers said. "I'm sure I say the same things that all the viewers say to their friends sitting next to them on the couch."
"You know this whole interview is becoming a defensive interview," she added. "Are you wearing leather shoes? Shut up."
Rivers later refuted claims that her outburst was a stunt to drum up publicity for her book.
"The CNN interviewer was a news reporter and not an entertainment reporter," Rivers told TheWrap in a statement. "She did not seem to understand we were talking about a comedy book and not the transcripts from the Nuremburg Trial. Every question was an accusatory one designed to put me on the defensive."