Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Barbara Walters



Legendary reporter, anchor and talk show host Barbara Walters died late last month.  She was 93. 

She WORKED her way up as a writer and researcher on NBC's Today show, eventually making a lot of on-air appearances, and eventually ascending to the co anchor position.  By the way, the capitalization of WORKED is no accident.  Everything I ever read indicates she gave her all to climb the ladder, in a world dominated by men.

Every woman in the business, past, present and future, owes Barbara Walters a debt of gratitude.  A colleague asked if Barbara Walters was overrated.  Easy question.  No!

ABC News came calling with $1 million in 1976, half of the money for entertainment specials, the other half to anchor the evening news with Harry Reasoner.  ABC News was intent on building a solid news department.  It needed a splash, and a big name.  It got one.

It never gelled.  Harry Reasoner didn't want a co-anchor, and let's face it, Walters was a lousy news reader.   It just wasn't her thing, and a hostile co-anchor didn't make the task easier.   Genius news producer and network news president Roone Arledge maneuvered Walters over  to big interviews, where she excelled, and to 20/20, where she also excelled.

By the way, Walters later admitted to not talking to Harry before she took the job.  Apparently, he was going through some personal issues at the time, which she knew nothing about.

Even though the 1976 experiment was a disaster, Barbara Walters might have helped save the network.  ABC had a horrible time finding an 11 am show that worked.  Then, Walters invented The View and everything fell in to place.  Love it or hate it, The View draws eyeballs, and it keeps people talking.  That, dear readers, is television magic.

When we think of TV news giants, of course, you recall Cronkite, Brinkley, Chancellor, Jennings, etc.  That list is not complete without Barbara Walters.