Barbara Walters Claims to Be an Objective Journalist

Does Barbara Walters refrain from publicly airing her personal opinions? The veteran journalist said just that on the June 17 "View," though the evidence does not back her up. Discussing the death of Tim Russert, the conversation quickly shifted to journalistic objectivity.

Walters claimed to have been "trained" to "not give" her "opinion." As the conversation progressed, Walters questioned the panel if they know "what my opinions are." Joy Behar replied "I sort of get it, but not really." Elisabeth Hasselbeck added, "I may guess, but you’ve been objective."

Either Behar and Hasselbeck have been absent minded, or they are sucking up to the boss. Although Barbara Walters has not been as outspoken as the other co-hosts, she has offered her opinions on more than one occasion.

"The View" creator has used her perch to praise House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, then attacked the same speaker from the left. She endorsed left wing films such as Michael Moore’s "Sicko" and Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth." Barbara Walters and objective journalist? Hardly.

The relevant transcript is below.

GOLDBERG: You know, Tim Russert just passed away because we were talking about him yesterday. And it got us really talking about journalists, you know and because people were saying, "well, he’s such a great journalist but he didn’t ask the hard questions." Or "he was a great journalist and he did ask the hard questions." I mean, what makes a journalist now? I mean, because now we see commentators and everyone seems to have an opinion, but it, it didn’t use to be that way. Barbara, you should talk to that, yeah?

BARBARA WALTERS: Supposedly, supposedly a network, like ABC, has certain rules. The rules are, for example, we don’t go to fund raisers. We’re not allowed to go to fund raisers because we’re not supposed to show preference for one candidate over another. And you do not give your personal opinions. Now, obviously, if you’re doing an interview, and I’ve interviewed, you know, dozens of presidents and heads of state. And so, you can ask certain questions to draw them out and let them hang themselves or let them praise themselves. But you are not supposed to give your opinions. That was the way we were trained. And that’s what Tim Russert did. But, what he would do very often is to take their quotations. What they said ten years ago, two years ago and what they did now. But now we find in order to get very high ratings and especially on the cable programs, you got to have opinions. Bill O’Reilly, why is he so popular? Well, he’s smart, but he’s got opinions.

GOLDBERG: But is he a journalist?

WALTERS: Well, he would say he was.


WALTERS: Keith Olbermann would say that he was a journalist. Chris Matthews would say that he was a journalist.

GOLDBERG: But could they do the news?

WALTERS: Lou Dobbs, Lou Dobbs does the news. I’m just throwing out names. He would say he’s a journalist. They do interviews and they give their opinions.


BEHAR: Well, this started, Barbara with, I think with talk radio. Because talk radio with, say Rush Limbaugh. I worked in talk radio in the early 90's. And everybody came to talk radio to hear a particular position, which then gave birth to Air America, which is on the left, because most of talk radio is on the right. And nobody is going to tune in to a radio show. They don’t want to hear the balanced position.

HASSELBECK: People now, people now when they listen to the news, or now, it’s so much more, almost dine as you please, as it is with the radio. People now go to the internet and will only look up sources that will give them the information they want. When they listen to a news report, they’re more wondering, I think, what their journalist, what their position is and there are so many like you, Barbara.

WALTERS: Do you know my political- we’re together almost every day. Do you know my political opin- I know yours- do you know mine, or what my political opinions are?

BEHAR: I sort of get it, but not really.

HASSELBECK: I may guess, but you’ve been objective.

WALTERS: This was the way I was trained, but you know, it’s more exciting, obviously, to give your opinions.

BEHAR: It gets ratings. It gets ratings.