Barbara Walters and Oprah

Veteran news journalist Barbara Walters recently stunned the industry when she announced she would be stepping down from her 20/20 post. She joined Oprah to talk about her private life and to take us inside the interviews that had all of us talking!

Oprah: Why are you leaving 20/20?

Barbara: I have loved what I've done…[but] I just felt it was time. 20/20 has been doing so well. I wanted to leave at the top. My daughter said it was time. I always listen to my daughter. It just felt like the right time.

Oprah: And you wanted time to do what?

Barbara: I will be able to travel and not just be in the inside of a studio. I can't tell you the number of places I've been, like China four times and never really seen China. I will have time to spend with friends…I have never been to Africa—I'm going to go in October. I will have time to be in television but to also have a life.
Barbara Walters

For 25 years as co-host of 20/20, Barbara Walters has interviewed more than 740 people. She's talked to world leaders, heads of state, music legends, movie stars and every U.S. president since Richard Nixon. Barbara's come face to face with some of the most notorious figures and convicted killers in the world.

Oprah: Were you ever nervous at any time with anybody?

Barbara: Not really. In the last 25 years, very rarely…But I have peculiar things: I have no fear of [interviewing], but you know when you go up on a dance floor and everybody does the [dancing] thing? I can't. I think everybody's looking at me.

Oprah: And when you were interviewing, is there a belief that you have that everybody has something inside worth saying or something good to tell?

Barbara: I think that everybody has something worth saying…And I think that everybody wants to be listened to. They want to explain why they did what they did.
Monica Lewinsky

More than 45 million people watched Barbara's interview with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. From thong underwear to phone sex to the infamous blue dress, every detail was revealed in the interview.

Monica says she had hoped that by doing an interview with Barbara Walters that people would be able to "get to know me as a real person, rather that a silent image of Monica Lewinsky that was up on the TV screen every night."

"The night before I was interviewed by Barbara, and the morning of, I was a nervous wreck," Monica says. "It was long, it was mentally exhausting, it was emotionally draining and it was scary. I was scared. I think I felt like I had so much riding on it, because I had just hoped that everybody in the country would all watch this interview and change their mind. The interview gave me a sense of emotional relief and it was a feeling of closure on one chapter of this nightmare."

Barbara says she likes Monica and has kept in touch with her. "Look, she was very young and she had a huge crush…she is a decent girl, and she is a good-natured girl and a good girl," Barbara says. "I wish her everything good. I think it's been very tough."
Christopher Reeve

It was just four months after his tragic horse-riding accident that Barbara Walters introduced America to a Christopher Reeve it had never quite seen before. Since then, Barbara has been by his side each step of the way, documenting every moment of progress in his personal journey with paralysis.

"With us, she genuinely is interested in our story," Christopher says. "And if not, she did a great job of faking it. She continues to care about what happens to me and my family. It's really been quite extraordinary."

Christopher has become one of Barbara's dearest friends and someone she's interviewed five times now. He had a special message for Barbara: "I want to thank you for the friendship that's grown so strong over the years of this journey. You're the best! You, too, Oprah!"
Jackie Danforth

Barbara's adopted daughter Jackie says it was tough growing up as the child of a famous personality. Jackie says that she didn't want people to know that her mother was Barbara Walters, and that she sometimes lied about it!

"How do you sit down and say, 'By the way, my mom's Barbara Walters?'" Jackie says. "It's interesting because most people think we live this really glamorous mom is extremely down to earth. She is wicked funny.

"[But] I think that growing up in New York City when I told people, people were still a little floored. So when I went to move to Washington state, I thought I'm going to [keep it a secret] and see what happens," Jackie says. "And it was really hard. I mean, it's my mom and me, and that's pretty much it. So to cover up your whole life, it's a lot of pressure."
Jackie Danforth, Barbara Walters and Oprah

Oprah: You said when you walk out of the studio you were going to check into a spa the next day. Do you still plan to do that?
Barbara: Yes, Jackie and I are going to a spa. I can use it, by the way… When have I been able to go to a spa before?

Oprah, to Jackie: How do you feel about her stepping down and taking more time for herself?

Jackie: I think there's a lot of noise that people kind of get…they get wrapped up in their work and their jobs and think it's their life. I think she's at a point right now where she's really confident in herself and she's done that already.

Barbara: My work is not my whole life.

Jackie: That's a part of you. That's not who you are. And, hopefully, if you're really good, you can conjoin both. The only bad thing is she's going to call me all the time now!
FROM: Barbara Walters
Published on September 16, 2004


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