14 May 2008

Bawbwa Walters: Wanderer

In Barbara's new memoir, "Audition", Walters describes how hard it was to grab the spotlight in an era when serious news could only be delivered in the measured tones of the male anchor and not a woman with rhotacism and a slight lisp.

The Queen of the Cougars then proceeds to tell us just about everyone she ever slept with.


The book's name-dropping is endless and forgivable. Walters, now 78 years old, did most certainly know, rub elbows and often interview many of the world's most (in)famous from Nixon, Anwar Sadat, and the Shah of Iran to Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Patty Hearst, Katharine Hepburn. She talks about being a passenger in Fidel Castro's Jeep on a wild ride through the Sierra Maestra.

And more than once Babs (its cool if I call her that) crossed the murky line between fly-on-the-wall reporter and participant in the news, as in her decision to deliver a secret message from the arms dealer Ghorbanifar to Reagan during the Iran hostage crisis beseeching him to keep talking to Iran and to send more arms if he wanted the remaining hostages to be released indirectly inspiring years of punk rock to come.

What man could resist that inimitable rhotacistic warble?

In the wonderful chapter entitled, "Special Men in My Life", we learn Babs had an affair with a former U.S. Senator Edward Brooke, a black Republican from Massachusetts. Oh my! Babs caught that jungle fever, kid. Babs was twice divorced at the time but Senator Brooke was most definitely married.

Senator Brooke: Unable to resist inimitable rhotacistic warble.

This revelation had the medias panties in a bunch though I was more intrigued by Babs' humorous account of simultaneously dating "Ace" Greenberg, then a partner in Bear Stearns and later its chair and CEO; and the "soft-spoken" (her words) Alan Greenspan, then President Ford's chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and later the chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (1987 to 2006)

Even when the men left their last names, her household staff was baffled, Walters writes: "Greenberg. Greenspan. They sounded so much alike that both ladies were in despair. When they gave me the message I could only ask: Which one talked louder?"

Oh, Babs, you devil you.



We also learn that Greenspan gave Babs some bad real estate advice in 1977, advising her not to buy a 4BR Fifth Avenue co-op for $250,000 during New York's fiscal crisis! "So I didn't buy it. Today that apartment is worth at least $30 million," she scribes.

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