Twelve years after interviewing communist leader Fidel Castro, Barbara Walters is still mesmerized by the "charismatic" dictator. But she is not a fan of the "constipated" Richard Nixon. The former View co-host returned to the show she created, Friday, to promote her yearly program on the "most fascinating" people. In a word association game, Rosie O'Donnell asked her to quickly describe Castro. Walters fawned, "Maybe the most charismatic person I have met." [MP3 audio here.]
Complimenting her own 2002 chat with the communist, Walters enthused, "It was an incredible interview." The veteran journalist is clearly fascinated by Castro. In the December 23, 2013 People, she gushed, "I spent 10 days with him, traveled through the mountains and held his gun in my lap...People thought we had a romance, but we never did."
In the 2002 interview, Walters offered this groan-inducing line: "For Castro, freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth. The literacy rate is 96 percent."
In contrast, Walters on Friday showed no such love for Nixon. When O'Donnell asked for a quick appraisal of the Republican president, the journalist blurted, "I have described Richard Nixon as constipated...There is something about him that tried so hard to be friendly when I interviewed him. It was such a push that all I could think of was [he was constipated]."
Of course, Walters had high praise for Hillary Clinton:
BARBARA WALTERS: Well, no matter whether she becomes president or doesn't, she's history-making and she's a remarkable woman, whatever her future is. And I know we all have different feelings about her. But I think what she's accomplished is just terrific.
A partial transcript of December 12 segment is below:
ROSIE O'DONNELL: We were going to play a little word association, Barbara. I'm going the name some of the people you interviewed and tell me what word first pops into your mind when I say the name. Okay? Here we go. Fidel Castro.
BARBARA WALTERS: Maybe the most charismatic person I have met.
NICOLLE WALLACE: Oh, my God! And if people haven't seen the interview, they have to go YouTube it. It's incredible.
O'DONNELL: Yeah. Absolutely.
WALTERS: It was an incredible interview. Yeah. I would like to do another one, but he hasn't wanted to and I'm not sure he's going to be around, you know, longer -- or that I will be around long.
O'DONNELL: Richard Nixon?
WALTERS: I have described Richard Nixon as constipated. [Laughter] I was not discussing his physical problems. There is something about him that tried so hard to be friendly when I interviewed him. It was such a push that all I could think of was, you know, – [starts laughing]
O'DONNELL: You thought it was a digestive issue? Wow. A little Colace could have helped him.
O'DONNELL: How about Hillary Clinton?
WALTERS: Well, no matter whether she becomes president or doesn't, she's history-making and she's a remarkable woman, whatever her future is. And I know we all have different feelings about her. But I think what she's accomplished is just terrific.