Barbara Walters secured the first exclusive American TV interview with Syria president Bashar al-Assad back in December as that nation’s internal strife began to bubble over. Now she has issued an apology after a string of emails surfaced that showed the ABC News icon later attempted to use her influence to gain favor’s for one of Assad’s closest aides, the 22-year-old daughter of Syria’s UN ambassador. According to the UK’s Telegraph, Sheherazad Jaafari, who the New York Times reports Walters said helped secure the Assad interview, stayed in close contact with Walters afterward, and she allegedly asked The View co-host for a job at ABC News. Walters told her that was a conflict, but later she offered to help by sending her resume to Piers Morgan’s show at CNN and reaching out to Columbia School of Journalism professor Richard Wald, the father of Morgan’s CNN executive producer Jonathan Wald. After asking if there was “anything you can do to help” Jaafari gain entrance to the university, the elder Wald replied that he would get the admissions office to “give her special attention”, according to the Telegraph.
Jaafari didn’t get the Piers Morgan gig and Wald ultimately didn’t intervene on her behalf at the university. Still, after the emails between Walters and Jaafari were made public by a Syrian opposition group, Walters issued a statement today admitting an error in judgment: “In the aftermath [of the Assad interview], Ms Jaafari returned to the US and contacted me looking for a job. 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.”