When I was going to have dinner with Barbara Walters, my plan was to rip her a new one, to excoriate her, and show her to be a light-weight pretender. This was back more than a few years ago. I was a columnist with millions of readers in 82 newspapers around the U.S. I was going to expose this heartless fluff bag. The $3 million woman, my rear end! I was out to get that shark, the person who belittled, embarrassed and trod all over a real journalist, the widely respected Harry Reasoner.
OMG, as they say today. Was I ever wrong. I mean seriously wrong. Barbara Walters was a fascinating dinner companion. She was intelligent. She had a tremendous grasp of all sorts of issues. She was kind. Most surprisingly to me, she was gracious and genteel; very far from shark-like. She was entertaining and engaging.
I was fortunate, because of my position, to have been able to dine with some very well known entertainers, business leaders and politicians. Barbara Walters would have to be right at the head of my list of truly memorable people. She won’t remember me at all (I was, after all, a print journalist, not a broadcast one!) but I think I became a better professional through what I learned that night.
Back in those days, there was still such a thing as journalism. People who reported the news as accurately, and objectively as they could. People who actually strove to separate fact from opinion. People who tried to find and report the truth. Barbara Walters was one of those. And one of the best of them.
We wish her well on her retirement. She will be missed.