Here is a fun behind-the-scenes glimpse from the nauseating world of sycophantic television journalism*: leaked emails show that the normally-benign daytime tube fixture Barbara Walters tried to help a 22-year-old press aide to murder-hungry Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad obtain preferential treatment with the Columbia University Admissions Office shortly after Walters conducted her interview with Assad, which the aide helped to arrange. Conflict of interest much? Nah. This must be why Walters also offered to help the press aide, Sheherazad Jaafari, obtain a “journalism internship with Piers Morgan,” which then again sounds like such a transparently fake position that we might even hope Walters was trying to prank Jaafari.
*Journalism of any kind is not to be confused with “humor blogging,” a basic distinction that nonetheless eludes the crabby wingnuts who frequently write in to your Wonkette to notify us that our “reporting” is “biased.”
Nope, not a prank. Barbara Walters appears to have bonded quickly with the young upstart over… what, the common interest they share in speaking with bloodthirsty dictators for a living? Sure.
When Miss Jaafari returned to New York she reached out again to Walters, whom she referred to as her “adopted mother”. In return, Walters called her “dear girl” and sometimes signed off “Hugs, Barbara”.
They met for lunch at the Mark Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in late January, where Miss Jaafari apparently asked for a job at ABC News. Walters said she refused but offered to use her contacts to help her in other ways.
Shortly afterwards, Walters emailed the young Syrian saying: “I wrote to Piers Morgan and his producer to say how terrific you are and attached your résumé.” She also asked whether Miss Jaafari was still planning on applying to Columbia University and offered to help.
A week later, Walters emailed Richard Wald, a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism and the father of Jonathan Wald, Morgan’s executive producer.
Walters described Miss 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”.
Miss Jaafari was part of a young circle of aides who advised Mr Assad to speak to the Western media as evidence of atrocities mounted. When he agreed to the interview with Walters in December, Miss Jaafari wrote a list of talking points advising that the “American psyche can be easily manipulated” if he were to make a limited expression of regret. Miss Jaafari did not respond to phone calls, texts or emails.
So let’s just say it sounds more like Barbara Walters was the one who got pranked here.
And yes, we know all of you are going “yeah, yeah get back to me when you’ve got basement party pictures of White House communications staff lined up to give spanks to a naked Jake Tapper and even then we decline to be scandalized,” but what is it, your birthday? [Telegraph]