Women’s History Month: Barbara Walters


Barton Silverman/ NY Times

You may have heard the name Barabra Walters, and if you have not, it’s time you hear it. The pioneer for women in journalism, Walters was an American broadcast journalist and television personality, but most notably, the first woman newscaster for ABC Evening News starting in 1976. Prior to ABC, she was a writer-producer for WNBT-TV in 1953, worked as a reporter for NBC in 1961, and co-hosted for Today in 1974. She also hosted many television programs including Today, 20/20, and created The View. 

Sadly, she recently passed away on December 30, 2022, at age 93. Reports say she most likely died of natural causes and passed away surrounded by loved ones. 

Walters, known for her incredible interviewing skills, sat down with every sitting president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, along with Biden and Trump before they were president, world leaders, and political figures. But she also met with huge celebrities and controversial figures, such as Monica Lewinsky after the Bill Clinton scandal, an interview with an estimated 74 million viewers. Walters had a creative way to ask the most pining questions, even if they came off as “absurd” to some. 

Walters honed in on an important skill, and it started with her first joint interview with the leaders of Israel and Egypt in 1977, which made history, an interview foreshadowing these nations’ peace treaty. Her unique skills were useful in politics when she would sit down with American political figures and even moderated two presidential debates. 

However, as one of the first women in journalism, it was not an easy road for Walters. She recounts in her interview for Oprah’s Master Class, that she would get cut off without “Thank you,” or “That’s interesting,” and that there was a lack of respect towards her as a newscaster. Reporting in war zones, asking tough questions, or doing the “hard news,” was not meant for women in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. But Walters did just that despite the backlash calling her “rude” or even a “pushy cookie.” 

Although the attitudes towards women were not positive during her earlier years in journalism, she defends her male counterparts, who she respected highly, saying that “Journalism was a man’s world.” However, Walters did not let that stop her from disproving those attitudes and changing that fact. 

Her best advice for a younger woman is, “Fight the big fights. Don’t fight the little fights, if you don’t get all the lines, if you’re not where you should be. Be the first one in. Be the last one out. Do your homework. Choose your battles. Don’t whine, and don’t be the one who complains about everything. Fight the big fights.”

Walters last appeared on TV as co-host of The View in 2014. Then, she retired in 2015, and for her last years, she was not seen in the public eye. Reports say she was struggling with dementia which would make it very hard for her to continue working.

Walters was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1989, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NATAS in 2000, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007. Although she is gone, Walters will forever go down as one of the most significant figures in American history.