Sometimes, people who jet around the world in their careers manage to miss something — the chance to see the world. That poignant thought was offered by the legendary news anchor Barbara Walters, 83, who formally announced her retirement on “The View,” a program she created. She plans to exit in 2014. As she told The New York Times, her leave-taking is partly motivated by a desire “to go someplace and actually see it.”
“I’ve been to China three times. I hope the Great Wall is still there,” she said. “I went when Nixon went, but wound up running after him with a tape recorder.”
Walters is a television pioneer. In 1974, she earned the title of “Today” show co-host — the first time a woman was so designated. In 1976, she become the first female anchor on an evening news program. Overcoming sexist bosses, critics, and co-anchors, Walters earned her gravitas the old-fashioned way — by covering serious news. Her interview subjects include Fidel Castro, Golda Meir, Anwar Sadat, Vladimir Putin, and, more recently, Bashar Assad. Her iconic celebrity interviews sometimes produced tears from her subjects and often generated headlines. Her 1999 sit-down with Monica Lewinsky attracted 74 million viewers.
For more than a half century, Walters went where she went to get the interview she wanted to get before anyone else. Now she deserves to travel the world at a more relaxed pace. May she enjoy every stop as a destination, not a deadline.