Barbara Walters has apologized for assisting a foreign aide who helped her secure an interview with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
- REUTERS/Jamie Fine (UNITED STATES ENTERTAINMENT)
"The View" host apologized Tuesday after it was revealed by a Syrian opposition group that she had attempted to secure a position at CNN and Columbia University for a foreign aide.
Sheherazad Jaafari, a 22-year-old former Assad adviser, assisted Walters in securing an interview with the dictator in December. Emails exchanged between the two after the interview however, revealed that the pair had built up a more intimate relationship than was deemed appropriate.
Emails exchanged between the two reveal Walters referring to Jaafari as a "dear girl," Jaafair swooned Walters by calling her an "adoptive mother."
Jaafair had also apparently manipulated Assad into doing the interview by suggesting that the "American psyche can be easily manipulated," according to emails first published by the Telegraph. Following the interview however, Assad felt humiliated by Walters and fired Jaafari, who is also the daughter of Syria's UN ambassador.
An out-of-work Jaafari returned to Walters, asking for a position at ABC News and help getting in to a university.
In an email to Richard Wald, a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, Walter's described Jaafari as "brilliant, beautiful, [and] speaks five languages" and asked whether there was "anything you can do to help?"
Prof Wald replied that he would get the admissions office to "give her special attention" according to the Telegraph.
Walters apologized for her behavior after the story broke.
"In the aftermath [of the Assad interview], Ms Jaafari returned to the US and contacted me looking for a job," Walters confirmed in a statement. "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 realise that this created a conflict and I regret that."