An Affair to Remember: Barbara Walters & Sen. Ed Brooke

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, May 2, 2008

So the press is in bed with politicians! Barbara Walters has revealed that she had an affair with then-Sen. Ed Brooke in the 1970s.

Promoting her memoir, "Audition," the legendary television journalist dished about her long-running relationship with the Massachusetts Republican to Oprah Winfrey, according to a transcript of next week's broadcast leaked to the Associated Press yesterday.

The two were both rising stars: The Boston-born Walters, then in her 40s and separated from her second husband, was making history as "Today" co-host and then anchor of ABC News; the D.C.-born Brooke, a decade older and estranged from first wife Remigia, had in 1966 become the first African American popularly elected to the Senate.

Want more details? We obtained an early copy of the book. They met at an N.Y.C. restaurant in '73 when she was in a busy dating phase. "Ed Brooke was simply the most attractive, sexiest, funniest, charming, and impossible man." How so? He used to joke that "I was the oldest woman he had ever been attracted to." (She writes she was tempted to respond, "Oh yeah? Well, you are the blackest man I have ever been with.")

"I was excited, fascinated, intrigued and infatuated," Walters writes. She badly wanted to marry him, and her ultimatum prodded him to seek a divorce, she says. But friends warned the fraught ethical and racial issues could ruin both their careers; they broke up before he lost his 1978 reelection bid. She went on to almost marry Alan Greenspan, but that's another story. Also: Got serious with John Warner in the '90s, but "I could never imagine myself as the wife of a senator living in Washington." (What changed, Babs?)

Brooke, 88 and now remarried, did not respond to calls to his Florida home for comment.

No Time to Tidy Up for Cheney's Visit

Uh-oh! Organizers at the 2008 D.C. Design House had to scramble yesterday morning when Lynne Cheney showed up unexpectedly. Designer Paul Corrie arrived at the P Street NW show house to find Secret Service agents waiting at the locked entrance -- the veep's wife, they said, was on her way. Seems a Cheney staffer mistakenly called the Washington Design Center in Southwest (also showcasing designer rooms) and arranged a visit, thinking it was the Georgetown show house. Corrie made a frantic call to the event's co-chairmen, who raced over, turned on lights and opened doors just in time. Cheney spent an hour touring the rooms and had a ball, reports one eyewitness.

After Tart Remarks, a Sweet-Smelling Expression of Thanks

It's kind of like spam -- just nicer, and more fragrant. Lefty heroine Helen Thomas is the target of an unusual Internet campaign this week: fans bombarding her with flowers after her face-off with Dana Perino . In the April 23 White House press briefing, the Hearst columnist exchanged words with the Bush press secretary about the president's okay of harsh interrogation tactics. Frustrated with the "usual stock answer," Thomas told us, she turned to other reporters and scolded: "Where is everybody? For God's sakes."

A C-SPAN clip of Thomas lit up the blogs, prompting Micah Fitch to organize a mass thank-you -- more than 50 bouquets sent to Thomas's office so far this week, said Sefika Kurt , whose Little Shop of Flowers handled most of the orders. (More than 500 people contributed $4,300 to keep the flowers coming, according to Fitch's Web site.) Too much of a good thing? Thomas said she plans to share them with hospitals and friends.

The Source Quote

"People have to understand that $35 million, you're paying the government 41 percent. That leaves you with about $17- or $18 million, not even. Then you're taking care of your whole family."

-- Former baseball star Jose Canseco, explaining to "Inside Edition" why he lost his $2.5 million California home to foreclosure.

On Letterman, Barackier Than Ever

Sen. Barack Obama returned to the "Late Show With David Letterman" to deliver his second self-mocking Top 10 list in three months yesterday. Some of his funnier "Surprising Facts About Barack Obama":

· My first act as president will be to stop the fighting between Lauren and Heidi on "The Hills."

· Throughout high school, I was consistently voted "Barackiest."

· Earlier today I bowled a 39.

· It's the birthplace of Fred Astaire. (Sorry, that's a surprising fact about Omaha.)

· This has nothing to do with the Top 10, but what the heck is up with Paula Abdul?

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