In the months after her exclusive interview last year with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Barbara Walters tried to intercede to get a television position for a former aide of his, who Ms. Walters acknowledged helped arrange the interview.
Ms. Walters, the longtime ABC News correspondent, issued a statement Tuesday apologizing for reaching out to contacts to seek an internship with CNN and admission at Columbia University for Sheherazad Jaafari, who had been a media adviser for Mr. Assad. Ms. Jaafari, 22, is the daughter of the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations.
“I did offer to mention her to contacts at another media organization and in academia, though she didn’t get a job or into school,” Ms. Walters said in the statement. “In retrospect, I realize that this created a conflict and I regret that.”
The e-mails were collected by a Syrian opposition group, which has intercepted confidential government communications of the Assad regime.
As reported by The Telegraph, Ms. Walters and Ms. Jaafari stayed in friendly contact after the ABC interview with Mr. Assad in December.
Ms. Walters turned down a request to intercede on behalf of Ms. Jaafari to secure a job at ABC News, saying that to do so would represent a conflict of interest. But Ms. Walters wrote in another e-mail that she had reached out to contacts at CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” to have Ms. Jaafari hired as an intern, and to Richard Wald, a former ABC News colleague, to help her gain admission to Columbia. Mr. Wald, who is now a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, had once been the second-ranked executive at ABC News.
The approach to the Piers Morgan show went both to Mr. Morgan and his producer, Jonathan Wald, who is Mr. Wald’s son.