TV Column: Will CBS cut Walters's Oprah comment?

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, December 9, 2010; 5:08 PM

Think twice before asking Barbara Walters to pay tribute to you at the Kennedy Center honors. Because Babs has no problem going on national TV and coyly suggesting people shouldn't necessarily believe some of the nice things she'd said.

Babs was among the people who took to the stage at this year's Kennedy Center Honors to say nice things about Oprah Winfrey. On stage, Babs said of Oprah:

Simply put, she is the best interviewer ever. No one comes close -- not even me. And those of you know me know how painful it was for me to say that.

It was one of those Touching Moments for which the Kennedy Center honors broadcast is famous. It got a lot of pick-up in the press.

But two days later, on her ABC talk show, "The View," Babs discussed her appearance at the Kennedy Center ceremony, noting how she'd said Oprah was "'the best interviewer ever. No one even comes close."

"And those of you who know me know how difficult it was to say that," Babs told her co-hosts.

"Do you really believe that?" one of them, Joy Behar, asked her.

"So, moving right along!" Babs responded coyly.

The next day, Babs went on David Letterman's CBS late night show and they discussed what she'd said about Oprah at KenCen:

"You said: Without question, without peer, Oprah is the best interviewer on television," Dave noted.

"You said even you were second to Oprah," he continued. "Well, that's clearly not true. I've seen the 'Oprah' show and she is many things, but she's certainly not a better interviewer than you are."

And again Babs went all coy.

"It felt right at the time," she said sweetly but not really.

"They must have had an open bar?" Letterman speculated.

"She's in Australia now," Babs responded and then mimed throwing back a couple.

CBS, which will broadcast "The Kennedy Center Honors" later this month, always needs to trim several minutes out of the ceremony for it to fit in its two-hour format. We vote that they just cut Bab's comment about Oprah being the better interviewer -- it would save Babs so much time, schlepping from talk show to talk show to make sure no one takes her compliment too seriously.

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