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Journalist And TV Host Barbara Walters Announces She’s Retiring Next Year
May 13, 2013
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Barbara Walters has been a journalist for more than 50 years, working at ABC News for 37 of those - but as of 2014, she's retiring, leaving the network, and television, behind.

She made the announcement today on her daytime talk show, 'The View':

"I am very happy with my decision and look forward to a wonderful and special year ahead both on 'The View' and with ABC News. I created 'The View' and am delighted it will last beyond my leaving it. I do not want to appear on another program or climb another mountain. I want instead to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women -- and OK, some men too -- who will be taking my place."

And as for whether she'll return to TV, the answer seems to be: absolutely not.

"When I go there is not going to be any, 'Please can I have another appearance?' I don't want to do any more interviews. I don't want to do any other programs. I'm not joining CNN. This is it."

In the year ahead, she plans to take part in a series of retrospectives on ABC looking back at and celebrating her career, The New York Times reports.

As one of the world's most prominent journalists, Walters' announcement is generating comments from all sorts of people - including U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, who said Walters was welcome to steal anything she wants from the White House.

Walters has a tradition of lifting small items from the White House, often during the taping of her yearly Christmas special, and showing them off on 'The View'. Obama said "Barbara, you can take what you want whenever you want it."

Michelle and Barack Obama on 'The View' in 2012 (Photo: Getty)

Walters got her start back in 1961 as a researcher and writer on NBC's morning program 'The Today Show.'

She quickly moved up to become the show's "Today Girl" - an assignment that had her covering the "lighter side" of the news, and reporting on the weather.

But from the very beginning, Walters made it clear that she was destined for much, much bigger things.

She was originally supposed to be on 'The Today Show' for 13 weeks. She stayed on for 13 years, first becoming a reporter who developed, wrote, and edited her own reports and interviews, and then being named co-host in 1974.

Since then, she has become one of the giants of journalism. She was the first woman to co-anchor an U.S. evening news program with ABC, and these days, she's one of the biggest figures in broadcasting. For the past few decades, if you were interviewed by Barbara Walters, it meant you've arrived.

A few years ago, Barbara sat down with George. In the interview, which you can watch below, she talked about her career, confronting her father when she was 13 to ask him to stay with her mother, going for a drive with Fidel Castro, and who she hoped (at the time) would be her last interview (spoiler alert: she won't get her wish):

She has interviewed some of the world's most newsworthy people over the years. Here are a few of the highlights:

Fidel Castro In 2008

25 years after the first time she sat down with him (and went for that drive), Walters interviewed a 76-year-old Fidel Castro, and, as she put it, continued her argument with him as they discussed socialism, democracy, and the state of Cuba.

Monica Lewinsky in 1999

After Monica Lewinsky's affair with then-president Bill Clinton, Walters sat down with her for an interview. It was a broadcasting phenomenon - 74 million people tuned in to see what Lewinsky had to say, the highest rating in history for a news program.

The final line of the interview went to Walters: after Lewinsky said she'll tell her future children "Mommy made a big mistake," Walters looked at the camera and said, "And that is the understatement of the year."

Michael Jackson in 1997

In 1997, after the death of Princess Diana, Jackson joined Walters to discuss the paparazzi and living in the public eye.

He came across in the interview as nervous and shy as he discusses his fear of paparazzi attention. Walters "noticeably toned down her usual pitbull approach in her conversation with the King of Pop," according to The Globe and Mail.

Bashar al-Assad in 2012

Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, had refused to speak with the U.S. media when Walters sat down with him in 2011 to discuss his rise to power and the torture of his citizens. When Walters asks him about those charges, he denies everything: "There was no command to kill or be brutal."

Asking Katharine Hepburn What Kind Of Tree She Wants To Be

It's a pretty basic rule of interviewing: you probably shouldn't ask your subject what kind of a tree he or she is. But when you're Barbara Walters, and legendary actor Katharine Hepburn brings it up, you can just about get away with it.

Still, Walters got some ribbing from Johnny Carson for the question a few years later, which she includes in this clip from her '30 Mistakes in 30 Years' special.

Via The New York Times


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