As Barbara Walters Signs Off, The Big TV Interview Signs Off Too


New York Times writer Jonathan Mahler reviews the highlights of Ms. Walters 5-decade career, and concludes there will not be another like her.


New York Times

Credit Virginia Sherwood/ABC, via Getty Images

On a Wednesday night in early March 1999, Barbara Walters invited a small group of friends and colleagues to her Manhattan apartment to watch her two-hour interview with Monica Lewinsky. During a commercial break, Ms. Walters stood by the window, looking out over Central Park, and noticed something peculiar. “There’s no traffic on Fifth Avenue,” she observed.

“That’s because everyone is home watching the interview,” one of her producers said.

It was only a slight exaggeration. Nearly 50 million people tuned in to see Ms. Walters question Ms. Lewinsky, the former White House intern, about her relationship with President Bill Clinton, more people than had ever watched a news program — or have watched one since. As was often the case with Ms. Walters’s broadcasts during her prime, it was television as a form of national theater.

On Friday, the 84-year-old Ms. Walters will sign off from her ABC daytime show “The View” for the last time. After five decades in television, the woman who started her career on camera as a pitchman for Alpo dog food and went on to cross the Bay of Pigs with Fidel Castro and to interview every American president (and first lady) since Richard M. Nixon is retiring.



  1. Barbara Walters made you want to watch her interviews. She asked the tough questions and somehow managed to get the answers. The camera never really existed in the context of her interviews. It was only a witness in the background. If you click the link, you will find a great five minute highlight video.

  2. Hey Dave:

    Thanks for your response, but the horse with no name respectfully disagrees with your assessment of who know who.

    I think that there really ain’t anything special about Ms. Walters. I think that she’s a competent journalist who just knows all the powerful people and that’s all ?

    We have been following this woman’s career (it was hard not to notice her as she was exalted by the undustry wherever she went ?) for some three decades now and perhaps, when she was younger, there were some high profile political interviews that drew some journalistic merit. In the industry venacular, it’s called a “scoop.”

    However, in this day and age of internet and a gazillion smart phones, it appears that any dumbass with a smart phone can record or videotape anyone, (legally or otherwise) even with little or no journalistic training, and can be an instant celebrated journalist, just like Babs? In other words, technology kicked Ms. Walter’s ass out the door, so to speak ? LOL

    Therefore, the “scoop” that was once the domain of people like Walters (perhaps her only redeeming value ?) is now available to any mere mortal or dumbass?

    In the last 10 or 15 years. I just got this impression that Ms. Walters was on autopilot and revelled in her celebrity status and became a “celebrated journalist” of sorts – a person who enjoyed their celebrated or special status in society.

    Even the men who screwed or slept with Walters had to be celebrities. For example, the great Geraldo Rivera once had a romp in the hay with Walters.

    That, according to TMZ dot com, part of the NEW style of journalism that is copied by television and radio station newsrooms everywhere…

    Why can’t Walters just be like the rest of us homies and you know, just sleep with “normal” people…

    So yeah, b’bye your highness, Barbara Walters, “home of the creampuff interview,” may I get a selfie of you before the door hits your arse on the way out..

    – HWNN


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