Walters' Legacy: 'Ferocious' or 'Gross'?

Salon columnists debate her career

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted May 13, 2013 1:08 PM CDT

(Newser) – In dueling Salon columns, Alex Pareene and Mary Elizabeth Williams debate the career and legacy of retiring journalist Barbara Walters:

  • Journalist? Really? Pareene would disagree with that assessment of Walters, whom he blames for "the ridiculous and sorry state of American television journalism." She was just as likely to vacation with or even romance famous people as she was to interview them, and Pareene points out that more than once, she covered up an important story because she had a personal relationship with the subject. "Her entire public life has been an extended exercise in sycophancy and unalloyed power worship."

  • But, Williams points out, Walters probably doesn't care one bit if you don't like her. "She’s here to do a job, and do it her way. And if television news is still frequently a hollow, sexist echo chamber, don’t blame Barbara," Williams writes. "She was first, first in nearly everything about women in television news," and she managed to outearn and outshine many of her male colleagues—while scoring many of the most sought-after interviews. "She leaves behind ... a ferociously powerful, maddeningly unduplicated example."
Click for Pareene's full column, or Williams' full column.

In this Jan. 12, 2012 file photo, Barbara Walters attends the Today show 60th anniversary celebration at the Edison Ballroom in New York.
In this Jan. 12, 2012 file photo, Barbara Walters attends the "Today" show 60th anniversary celebration at the Edison Ballroom in New York.   (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
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