By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 31 December 2022 • 7:30
Her death was announced by Bob Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company late on Saturday, December 31 saying that she will also be remembered as someone who broke down barriers.
He said: “Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not just for women in journalism but for journalism itself. She was a one-of-a-kind reporter who landed many of the most important interviews of our time, from heads of state to the biggest celebrities and sports icons.
“I had the pleasure of calling Barbara a colleague for more than three decades, but more importantly, I was able to call her a dear friend. She will be missed by all of us at The Walt Disney Company, and we send our deepest condolences to her daughter, Jacqueline,”
Walters enjoyed a five-decade-long career the last 11 of which were with ABC News where she became the first female host of a news programme broadcast on national TV in the U.S. She went on to co-host the investigative journalism programme 20/20 and later launched The View, an all-female panel that discussed current events.
Her talents were well rewarded with Walters winning 12 Emmy awards, 11 of which were during her time with ABC News. A consummate interviewer, she was able to cut to the chase and had a reputation for asking tough questions. Despite that she was able to get to interview many world leaders.
Among those Cuban leader Fidel Castro who she crossed the Bay of Pigs with and conducted the first joint interview with Egyptian President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. She also developed a reputation for asking tough questions. For example, she asked Russian President Vladimir Putin if he had ever ordered someone to be killed (he denied).
She also interviewed Monica Lewinsky in one of the most watched in the U.S. with more than 74 million people tuning in to hear her grill the former White House aide that shortened the career of then-President Bill Clinton.
But not everyone liked her interviewing style with Ricky Martin complaining that he forced her to come out, and the 15-year-old Brooke Shields being told to stand up so everyone can see her body. Shields say her interviewing style was “not journalism and was almost criminal.”
Such was her impact that part of the ABC News headquarters was renamed the “Barbara Walters Building” in May 2014. During the ceremonial naming, she said, ” If I have a legacy (…), then I hope I have played a small role in paving the way for many wonderful women.”
Love her or loathe her, Walters was a pioneering female journalist and TV presenter that left an indelible mark on the business.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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