This news certainly explains some missing pieces of my past.
Next Tuesday, ABC's Barbara Walters will admit on Oprah Winfrey's show (...and why she didn't do it on her own show 'The View' is a complete mystery to me) that she had a years-long affair with Senator Edward Brooke, a moderate black Republican from Massachusetts.
There are many angles of this story that warrant comment, and will be discussed in the days ahead.
But it is the time-line that fascinates me.
AP reports that "at the time, the twice-divorced Walters was a rising star in TV news and co-host of NBC's "Today" show, but would soon jump to ABC News, where she has enjoyed unrivaled success. Her affair with Brooke, which never before came to light, had ended before he lost his bid for a third term in 1978."
In 1976, Barbara Walters joined the ABC News team as the first female co-anchor in broadcast history. She was assigned to cover the Republican convention in Kansas City, Missouri where Ronald Reagan lost the nomination to Gerald Ford.
ABC/New York sent Walters to Kansas City to watch, prepare, and meet her future co-anchor Harry Reasoner (a very sexist jerk, I might add.)
She was given an office in a temporary trailor behind the Kemper Arena, cramped quarters that were also shared by Reasoner and Howard K. Smith, one of the original Edward R. Murrow 'boys' who covered World War II and established a stellar career before retiring from ABC News.
Back then, I was a wet-behind-the-ears intern who lucked into a menial job directing the news crews around the geography of Kansas City (my hometown) eventually working up to personal assistant for Howard K. Smith.
I was dazzled by Barbara Walters appearance, sweeping into the nerve center for the Operations unit in her designer clothes.
She was, and is, an icon for women broadcasters.
So I cautiously approached her office minutes after her arrival as she de-camped with her personal assistant.
Knocking politely, Walters beckoned me to come in. I stuttered and stammered how thrilled I was to be in her presence and what she meant to me as I was beginning my career.
Walters listened for oh, 10 seconds, and then coldly told me to leave.
Stunned, I backed out, apologizing for interrupting her.
For years I have carried that memory without any context.
Is it possible she was distraught over an illicit love affair with a married black politican? Did that account for her behavior? Or was she simply an elitist from New York who viewed a young woman from Kansas City with contempt?
So, one wonders about icons. Who are they, are why do we invest in them so much?
Barbara Walters crushed me that day, and it affected my choices in future job choices. When Howard K. Smith offered me a job as his personal assistant at the end of the convention, I turned him down. My confidence and optimism was so diminished by my experience with Barbara Walters, I chose to stay behind in the Midwest.
I will never be invited to discuss this on 'The View' or on 'Oprah.'
But it would certainly be an interesting subject to persue.