Walters Helps Assad Aide Get Into Columbia: Report

Syrian Press Woman Helped Land Interview With Dictator

By Forward Staff

Published June 07, 2012.

Barbara Walters reportedly helped a Syrian press aide who arranged her exclusive interview with dictator Bashar al-Assad win admission to Columbia University’s prestigious School of International and Public Affairs.

The New York Post reported that the legendary newswoman wrote to pal Richard Wald, an official at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, to boost the application of press aide Sheherazad “Sherry” Jaafari.

“She is brilliant, beautiful, speaks five languages. Anything you can do to help?” Walters wrote to Wald, the Post said.

Jaafari was later admitted to the class that starts this fall, Jesse Gale, an associate dean, told the paper.

“If there is any way you think you can give my application a push, I would really, really appreciate it. You did mention you knew a professor there,” Jaafari wrote Walters on Jan. 24 this year, the paper said, without citing its source.

That was about six weeks after Walters’ interview with the beleaguered Assad aired.

Wald apparently intervened with officials at SIPA, who downplayed any role that either one may have played in helping Jaafari gain admission to the tony school.



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