Barbara Walters landed an interview that made headlines around the world when she become the first American journalist to persuade Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to talk to the press.
However, she's getting some serious backlash after emails have surfaced showing that she tried to help one of his closest aides, 22-year-old Sheherazad Jaafari, land an internship at CNN and admission into Columbia University's journalism program.
The two women kept in contact after the interview and Mz. Jaafari, who is also the daughter of Syria’s UN ambassador, originally asked Walters for a job at ABC News. The View host replied that would be "a conflict of interest", but then offered to pass her resume on to Piers Morgan Tonight and speak to a journalism professor at Columbia on her behalf.
Now Mz. Walters regrets her decision to help this young woman and has said in a statement:
"In the aftermath [of the Assad interview], Ms Jaafari returned to the US and contacted me looking for a job. I told her that was a serious conflict of interest and that we would not hire her. 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. In retrospect, I realize that this created a conflict and I regret that."
The controversy comes from the fact that the Syrian president is accused of torturing and killing his own citizens of all ages. Assad denied the allegations during his interview with Walters, but if anybody knew anything about atrocities he committed, it was Jaafari.
In fact, she advised the Syrian leader that the "American psyche can be easily manipulated" if he were express some form of regret for his actions. Clearly she knew what she was talking about because it sounds like she was easily able to manipulate Barbara Walters too!
For the record though, Jaafari didn't get the internship with Piers Morgan or admitted into Columbia.
[Image via WENN.]
Tags: abc, apology, barbara walters, bashar al-assad, cnn, controversy, piers morgan, president, sheherazad jaafari, syria