Barbara Walters Admits Conflict-of-Interest Concerns, Apologizes for Trying to Help Syrian Aide Get a CNN Job

Jun 6, 2012  •  Post A Comment

Barbara Walters has apologized for helping a former aide to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria try to secure an internship at CNN and admission at Columbia University, The New York Times’ Media Decoder reports.

Walters issued a statement acknowledging that the aide, Sheherazad Jaafari, 22, had helped arrange an exclusive interview with President Assad, according to the story. Jaafari is the daughter of the Syrian ambassador to the United States.

A series of emails between Walters and Jaafari were collected by a Syrian opposition group and published in London’s Telegraph newspaper. To read the emails, click here.

“I did offer to mention her to contacts at another media organization and in academia, though she didn’t get a job or into school,” Walters said in a statement. “In retrospect, I realize that this created a conflict and I regret that.”

Walters declined to help Jaafari get a job at ABC News because she said that would represent a conflict of interest, but she contacted CNN’s "Piers Morgan Tonight" to help her with an internship, and also contacted former ABC News colleague Richard Wald, who is now a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, the article says.

CNN didn’t grant an interview or even consider it, the story notes.

The contacts were made after Walters’ interview with Assad, which aired on ABC on Dec. 7, the piece adds.

sheherazad-jaafari.jpgSheherazad Jaafari

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