Junne Park, Photo Editor

By Leah Buletti and Melissa Goldin.

As one of the most iconic female journalists in history, Barbara Walters seems to have gleaned ample insight on life from the fact that, appropriately for a journalist, she seems much more comfortable asking the questions and soliciting information on the lives of others, rather than answering them or discussing her own.

Walters, who is currently the creator, co-host and executive producer of ABC’s “The View” and has interviewed every U.S. president since Richard Nixon in addition to a large span of famous world figures and celebrities, delivered a well-received Meliora Weekend keynote address consisting primarily of interview anecdotes tailored to the audience as opposed to speaking about her own life achievements on Saturday, Oct. 13 in Kodak Hall.

UR President Joel Seligman introduced Walters as the “journalist of our age” and a “gracious, thoughtful individual.” A short retrospective video of Walters’ life played after Seligman’s introduction, serving as an impressive reminder of the numerous interviews Walters has conducted. When Walters took the stage, she nostalgically said that watching the video had been a “trip down memory lane.” She recalled her “Today Show” days when, while living across from Carnegie Hall, the “ladies of the evening” would see her get into a limo and drive away.

“I gave them hope,” Walters said, to laughter. Then added, “I’m here to inspire you.”

The first interview Walters recounted was with Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad, which was conducted in December 2011. Walters is the only American to have interviewed Assad since the crisis began in Syria.

In her interview, she showed Assad pictures of people being tortured and said that, even then, he denied the atrocities.

Assad said that the country is moving forward with reforms and that free elections are on the horizon.

“Of course, we’ve seen none of that,” Walters said.

Walters described Assad as “disconnected”— he said “‘it’s not me, it’s my government and I said, you are the government,’” Walters recalled.

Walters then moved into a discussion of her interview with President Barack Obama, first explaining her attempts to have former Governor Mitt Romney on “The View” and saying, to audience laughter, that she hoped they would therefore understand why she was just talking about Obama.

Then she stated that she wanted students to know that it is not essential to know what you’re going to do in the future — Obama thought he might want to be an architect or a baseball player, but never expected to become president.

Walters then noted how different and important the role of women is in this year’s presidential campaign, commenting on how the wives of both candidates made speeches at the first presidential debate and how much this has changed over time.

Walters then moved into discussing Bill Clinton, who “represents to me the choices you have to make,” Walters said, discussing Clinton’s relationship with his wife Hillary with admiration and a deep sense of respect. She used the Clintons’ relationship as a segue into her belief in the need to live life as though it is a gift, to learn as you go and to love, learning what is important to you when things get difficult.

“I don’t make predictions, but I’m going to,” Walters then said with calm certainty. “I think she’ll run for president in four years.”

After a brief mention of Colin Powell, Walters went on to discuss “a different kind of leader” — her experience with a man she described as “considered by many as a god, a man without a country, a man who calls himself a teacher” — none other than the Dalai Lama, who claims that “the purpose of the life is to be happy and you find happiness through compassion and warm-heartedness,” qualities which can be attained by eliminating “all negative thoughts and feelings of competition.”

For about three days after the interview, Walters recounted, eliciting laughter from the audience, she gave the Dalai Lama’s advice a try.

“I moved away from all negative thoughts, I stopped competing for any interviews, I smiled a great deal, I was never jealous, I was never competitive, I was very warm-hearted,” she said. “I was also very bored.”

Ultimately, Walters did take the Dalai Lama’s advice to heart though.

“Compassion and warm-heartedness — those are the secrets to happiness,” she assured the crowd.

In describing an interview with Britain’s first and only female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, famously nicknamed the

“Iron Lady,” Walters touched on another view of leadership — or rather, the lack thereof.

Walters described the moment when Thatcher was ousted from her own party as “a terrible shock for her.”

Thatcher’s story includes an important lesson, Walters said.

“I try to remember myself when I’m high up how easy it is … to fail,” she said, so it’s possible to “continue to enjoy your life when you’re no longer the prime minister, the anchor, the president.”

Walters then moved away from politics to talk about Christopher Reeve, known for his portrayal of Superman in 1978 and who became a quadriplegic after an equestrian accident. As she spoke about Reeve, who she described as “the most extraordinary man I’ve ever met,” a somber feeling overtook the crowd.

Walters lifted the audience back out of this ambiance as she described Reeve as when he was in the hospital, unable to move, unable to live the life he once had. She explained how a man who appeared to be a doctor came in and told Reeve to turn over.

“Reeve was getting more and more agitated until he took a good look at the man and realized it was Robin Williams,” Walters said to laughter.

Williams did more that day than simply visit a friend.

“Reeve said that when he looked at Williams as a proctologist he started to laugh and he thought, ‘if I can laugh, I can live,’” Walters recounted.

Walters concluded her address with a few notes of advice for the audience: do something that gives you meaning in life, cherish your friends and have something beyond yourself, however you define it, religiously or otherwise, to believe in.

“Not everyone can be a hero, but we can aspire to be,” she said. Not everyone can lead a country … nor is it vital to be a leader. But there are some qualities of leadership that any of us can strive to live up to.”

The keynote address ended with a question and answer session between Seligman and Walters, which centered on Walters’ view of the state of network news , which Walters said she thinks has changed “enormously.”

She explained how the content of the news itself has changed based on the preferences of viewers — hardly anyone seems to want the hard news anymore, prefering it to be lighter, more cheerful and more fun.

Walters was positive about the progress in network news’ receptiveness toward women, which she has had a large hand in advancing since her career took off in the 1960s.

“If I’m proud of anything, that’s the legacy I’m proud of,” she said.

Buletti and Goldin are members of the class of 2013.

  • cathar_rex@yahoo.com

    Certainly she’s a woman who has ‘made it” and is a pleasure to watch.She’s woman even at 30 years older than myself I’d love to wake up next-to each morning on one hand but I reckon whe’d be a handfull with a sting in her tail on the other.I feel a little uncomfortable that as a successful jewess Barbara might have come far as a ‘reliable’ interviewer
    who doesn’t confront the war criminals unless outside the American dream and who avoids the major issues which contribute to middle Eastern provocaton, the deliberate stirring up of religious fanatics and the resulting massive death tolls in the interest of two states.

    Her controversial salary in 1973 raised many thoughts about her abd rightly so but she’s travelled far and wide since then.There are interrviews she has assiduoulsy avoided however, to the best of my knowledege as a ‘non American’ who doesn’t get-off over breakfast show personalities.

    I am not a person who is tolerant of the ‘positive” and “negative” ‘meuos’, their connotations,prduct identifications and mediocrity based manipulations of American psychologists which have become universally used.I think my adjectives explain that,adequately. He views on negativity can be far better explained in a ‘meaningful’ way but not by me here,

    My first thoughts from the address are ones of ‘aghast” that Hilary Clinton’ could ever be President of the Americas Her bigotry and prejudiced, meddling desire to continue military action against non-zionists is legendary.She is illuminati and deeply committed in the Bilderberger-Freemasonic-zionist acceleration towards universal government which in her dreams will be Israel-USA.

    Rice had the gall to redraw the middle east boundaries to suit the new order and fortunately was flushed away with the rest of the neo-cons once their job was done. Wolfowits and Rumsfeld soon after showed their true personalities (each had several) and Pearle disappeared with the 2 million which disappeared when the ransom money used to free the hostages some months before Reagan was elected so that he could claim he was so loved that the freedom was affected instantly whereas Carter had failed.You might recall that 22 million came from the US/Isrtael partnership with Norriega in the continuum of MK Ultra, to aid “Operation Paperclip” Bush, who became President by fraud continued to defraud the world so that an excuse might be found to invade the ME on behalf of Israel. In 1967 that consiract was attemped and failed (read about the USS Liberty and the atrocity in the mass murder of 1000 Egyptians)

    Has she ever directly confronted Bush about the Floida Conspiracy, the Trade Towers complete with the conspiracy of Silverstein and Lowy, the Israelis waiting for hours for the attack, then dancing for joy atop their news truck as it happened,the mass exodus of Israeli involvd including those arrested, the resulting mass murder of Iraqis which showed Bush as a liar who’s only peer was Netenyahu?, LBJ about his part in the assassination of Kennedy. Has she ever interviewed the grandmasters of the Lodge about their ownership by the deRothschilds from 1770’s on wards and their ediface in Israel and political architecture there in the justice building.

    Has she ever confronted any of the PM’s of Israel about their crimes against humanity, deep espionage and control of the USA’s fundamental organisms (Military, Hospitals and so on (see Viktor Ostrovsky’s revelations) or in Europe, Britain Australia and so on. Did she ever confront ‘Netenyahu’about Israel’s total resistance to peace as opposed to colonised subjugation and genoicide? Did she work him over about the atrocities of cast lead, his pathological lies which include ‘10,000 rockets fired at us’, or stopping the continuing land theft and demonisation of Palestinians. Has she ever confronted any one about the misappropriation by Israel of ‘holocaust’ victim’s property?. Has she ever asked ‘what option do the palestinians really have other than to throw stones or fire the odd rocket as those who seek their genocide or exile from their own land. Has she ever confronted anyone about the historical nonsense spoken about ‘Jewish Right to Palestine” (Cannaan).

    Has she ever interviewed the CIA about MK Ultra and the destabilisng and atocities they oganise in other Nations to allow the IMF and World Bank to move in and exercise control and ecologcical destruction and asset-raping through calling on debts or else do as we want in ‘reconstruction’ has she ever interviewed de Rothschilds about their ownership of almost all the world’s currency and their control of governments through debt? Has she ever interviewed Putin or Kruschev or any other Russian icon about the power broking in Russia since 1917 by he deRothschilds, or their initiation of the horrors via Jacon Schiff of Kuhn Loeb..he who prsonally organised the abominations perfored on the Car and his family and retainers?

    In fact has she ever done any interview which changed the perception of the world to one of recognising the deception under which we live and allow the few to control the many by death squads known as the CIA, the FBI, the police force, the military which though all doing ‘good’have a core of radicalism and utter deception abd affirmative action in destroying oppositon and which results from their social programming.

    I wonder if she has ever done an interview not candy coated with political correctness?

    But though I think she symbolises the illusion that Americans show any desire to face life and the rights of others in any serious I think she’s adorable..don’t you? Voila.

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