Barbara Walters: Known For Her Hard-Hitting, Sometimes Inappropriate Interview Style

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By Taylor Hodgkins on January 1, 2023 at 1:00 PM EST

Legendary broadcast journalist Barbara Waltersdied on December 30th, at 93 years old.

Walters' five decades in broadcasting helped pave the way for journalism as it stands today. Walters would become one of the most well-known faces on ABC News after she joined the network in 1976, and slightly over three decades later, Walters, who became the first female news anchor for an evening news program in history, would go on to create "The View."

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Walters' reputation as one of the most respected journalists in history was undoubtedly shaped by her signature interview style; she made sure her interview subjects laid absolutely everything on the table. In order to make sure viewers were able to learn the full story and understand all of the facts behind her interviewee, Walters would resort to asking hard-hitting and sometimes inappropriate questions to her subjects, often resulting in some awkward moments.

At times, Walters' subjects would look visibly uncomfortable or be completely unable to answer her questions.

Let's look back at some of Walters' most memorable hard-hitting interviews.

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Barbara Walters Once Put Courtney Love In The Hot Seat In A Conversation About Her Struggles With Substance Abuse

Grunge musician Courtney Love once sat down with Walters for an ABC News interview, as part of the network's "The 10 Most Fascinating People Of 1995" retrospective. Love's late husband, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, had died by suicide the year before.

Love's controversial reputation in the spotlight at the time largely revolved around rumors she had been using drugs at the time of her pregnancy with Frances Bean Cobain, the couple's only child, a subject matter Walters did not shy away from in the interview.

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At the beginning of their conversation, Walters asked Love about the biggest misconception that the public seemed to believe about the Hole frontwoman. After Love began discussing the oft- circulating rumor she was still using drugs, Walters grilled Love, who appeared to be visibly sober during the interview, over whether she was clean during the interview.

"You are on nothing?," Walters asks Love, to which she responds "No."

"You are on nothing today?," Walters asks again, to which Love responds with a more emphatic "No" once again.

"No heroin?" Walters continues, to which Love responds "My God," while putting her hands over her heart.

Walters then interrupts Love and says, "I'm going to ask you all of the questions that people think!"

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As the pair continue their conversation about Love's alleged drug use, the "Doll Parts" singer grows more agitated, especially when Walters asks if she had ever used in front of her then-four-year-old daughter.

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Walters Asked Inappropriate Questions To A Teenaged Brooke Shields

Decades after model and movie star Brooke Shields sat down for an interview with Walters, the "Blue Lagoon" star would look back on the interview, and call it "practically criminal." (per The Blast) Shields would go on to tell Dax Shepard during their podcast interview she believed it didn't qualify "as journalism."

Walters asked Shields intrusive questions about her sexuality during the period when her controversial ad campaign for Calvin Klien jeans in 1980. Shields was 15 at the time.

The "Pretty Baby" actress would discuss the experience with Drew Barrymore, (who also shared a story of an interview with Walters wherein she was asked invasive questions), noting Walters asked about her measurements, before comparing her body to Shields'.

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"I thought 'this isn't right!'," a reactive Shields recalled to Barrymore, "I don't understand what this is, but I just... I behaved, and I just smiled, and felt like, so taken advantage of, y'know, in so many ways..." (per ET Canada)

Walters Asked Monica Lewinsky About Her Self-Respect And Self-Esteem Following Bill Clinton Scandal

America was riveted by the news President Bill Clinton had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the late 1990s. The world would have a chance to hear Lewinsky's side of the story on an episode of "20/20" in 1999. Clinton would face impeachment as a result of the affair.

Walters would not let Lewinsky off the hook during the two-hour special, which part of can is found on YouTube. Walters asks Lewinsky point-blank if Clinton ever told her whether he had been in love or not.

Walters would also ask a visibly embarrassed Lewinsky about the type of alleged sexual contact the duo engaged in. When the conversation focuses on the reported phone sex the pair engaged in, Lewinsky looks down at the floor.

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Walters would also ask direct questions about the former First Lady, Hillary Clinton, and the couple's then-teenaged daughter Chelsea.

Walters asked her subject if she "ever felt like she was in competition with Hillary Clinton," and whether Lewinsky ever thought about Chelsea during her affair with the President. When Walters inquired about Lewinsky's transfer to the Pentagon, Lewinsky smiles and refers to those people who advocated for Lewinsky's transfer as "the meanies." "Well you call them 'the meanies,' but in a way they were right, weren't they?" Walters responds.

Barbara Walters's oft-direct and/or invasive questions undoubtedly set a standard for journalism and well-crafted news stories for decades. No matter which way the public may perceive her signature style, her interview technique would become a giant component of her legacy, which will forever be unmatched.

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