Barbara Walters apologizes for helping Assad aide
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Barbara Walters apologizes for helping Assad aide

American TV personality expresses 'regret' for trying to land internship, Ivy League admission for Syrian regime insider

Barbara Walters has apologized for pulling strings on behalf of an ally of Syria’s dictator.

“In retrospect, I realise that this created a conflict and I regret that,” the American TV personality told England’s Daily Telegraph, after the newspaper received e-mails revealing Walters’ efforts to help the associate.

The intercepted e-mails showed that the “View” host had attempted to secure a CNN internship and a spot at Columbia University for Sheherazad Jaafari, the daughter of Syria’s UN ambassador. The younger Jaafari had proven useful in helping Walters land a December interview with Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

In return, Walters reached out to a producer at CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” about giving Jaafari an internship, and to a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism about helping her obtain admission. Neither position ultimately worked out.

In her statement to the Daily Telegraph, Walters said that she refused to help Jaafari get a job with Walters’ own employer, ABC. “I told her that was a serious conflict of interest and that we would not hire her,” she wrote. “I did offer to mention her to contacts at another media organisation and in academia, though she didn’t get a job or into school.”

Walters has maintained a closer relationship with the Assad regime than most Western journalists, dining with the dictator and his wife during a 2008 trip to the country. On “The View,” she jokingly likened the visit to vacationing in the Hamptons, the exclusive summer retreat for New York’s uber-wealthy.

More of her e-mail exchanges with Jaafari can be viewed here.

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