Barbara Walters apologized after e-mails obtained by a Syrian opposition group reportedly showed that the veteran journalist tried to help secure an aide to embattled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad a spot at Columbia University and an internship with CNN.
According to the U.K. Telegraph, Walters tried to help secure Sheherazad Jaafari, the daughter of Syria’s U.N. ambassador and an aide to Assad an internship with the “Piers Morgan Tonight” program and a spot at Columbia University.
When confronted with the e-mails, Walters, 82, expressed “regret” at her actions and admitted a conflict of interest, the Telegraph reports.
Assad, whose presidency has been fraught with conflict and violence in recent months, gave an exclusive interview to Walters last year. After the interview, Walters reportedly kept in close contact with Jaafari, who is described by the Telegraph as a “close aide” to the president.
The e-mails reportedly show Jaafari as referring to Walters as her “adopted mother.” Walters was similarly affectionate in her language, often writing “Hugs, Barbara” and calling her “dear girl.”
Jaafari reportedly asked for a job at ABC News, which Walters said she refused to offer, but did use her contacts to assist her in other ways.
“I wrote to Piers Morgan and his producer to say how terrific you are and attached your resume,” one of the e-mails from Walters to Jaafari reads. The next week, she e-mailed the father of Morgan’s executive producer, Richard Wald, who is a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, asking for help in getting Jaafari admitted, the Telegraph reports. She was ultimately not admitted, but Wald reportedly promised to give her application “special attention.”