Barbara Walters, the pioneering journalist who died Friday at the age of 93, conducted some of the most legendary interviews on record. That is a fact. It just so also happens to be a fact that a seeming fraction of her interview subjects has been Black.
Names like Katherine Hepburn and Monica Lewinsky and former presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter dominating these ubiquitous lists of Walters’ top interviews since she died, it can apparently be easy to forget the Black folks also featured on her famous televised specials. For whatever reason — there are likely many — there was a clear racial disparity when it came to deciding whom to interview. Most of the time — by far, it seemed — those being interrogated by the founder of “The View” were influential and famous white people. But sometimes Walters would question those same white folks of note about things that had Black people really wanting to know more about.
Like when she interviewed V. Stiviano, the former girlfriend of Donald Sterling, who owned the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers until leaked audio demonstrating his anti-Black racism forced him to sell the team.
But then there were also those times — again, those seemingly few times — when Walters sat down with famous Black people and produced some of the most riveting and must-see television journalism of all time.
(Ahem. That was Diane Sawyer who interviewed Whitney Houston, not Barbara Walters!)
From prompting Robin Givens to claim in front of an allegedly heavily sedated Mike Tyson that her then-heavyweight champion boxer husband had beaten her, to Michael Jackson accusing her of patronizing and being condescending to him when she interviewed him, one thing Walters knew how to do was ask the perfectly timed and most provocative questions to which her loyal viewers demanded answers.
That is to speak nothing of Walters, who was Jewish, interviewing Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, or the time she sat down with Anwar Sadat, the former president of Egypt, after the historic signing of Egypt-Israel Peace Agreement in 1979.
It is moments like those that have helped contribute to Walters’ legend, not only as a newswoman but also as one who was a newsmaker in her own right thanks in no small part to her iconic interviews.
One might think a powerful woman in media of her stature who shattered gender stereotypes and glass ceilings alike might have featured more Black people in her high-profile interviews. Nevertheless, when she did interview Black folks, those moments were unforgettable and left indelible marks on our collective brains.
Scroll down to keep reading more about Barbara Walters’ top interviews with Black people.
1. Naomi Campbell
2. Michael Jackson
3. Herman Cain
4. Louis Farrakhan
5. Will Smith
6. Mike Tyson and Robin Givens
7. Oprah Winfrey
8. Anwar Sadat
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