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Barbara Walters calls Oprah the best interviewer ever - and then hears about it (video)

By Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 9, 2010; 8:16 PM

Dear CBS,

Please do the right thing by Barbara Walters and cut from your Dec. 28 broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors her comment about Oprah being the best interviewer in the history of time.

It'll be no skin off your nose - the ceremony always comes in too long anyway and has to be trimmed to squeeze it all into that two-hour special you air every year.

Sincerely,

The TV Column

P.S. It would save Babs no end of trouble. The poor dear has been wearing herself ragged ever since the taping on Sunday night, schlepping from talk show to talk show to talk about it. In fact, she practically can't talk of anything else.

We're sure Babs had every intention of sticking to the facts when she appeared Sunday at the Kennedy Center Honors to pay tribute to Oprah. But you know how it is when you're in the presence of Her Oprahness. Anyway, by the time Babs was through talking, she'd committed herself to a statement of a nature guaranteed to send The Reporters Who Cover Television screaming for joy on a slow news day:

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.

This superlative came as quite a shock to the 2,000-ish in the KenCen hall on Sunday night; if they hadn't been seated at the time, they probably would have reeled.

And the press pounced.

At some point Monday, Babs must've arisen and faced the world with the spellbound horror of a woman who has accidentally punched a hole in a dam and now confronts the gushing waters.

The next day, Tuesday, when her fellow Ladies of "The View" wanted to hear all about Babs's visit to the KenCen, the octogenarian newswoman admitted that on Sunday she had indeed said Oprah was "the best interviewer ever. No one even comes close."

"Do you really believe that?" co-host Joy Behar asked her, incredulously.

"So, moving right along!" Babs joshed bravely - no doubt trying to mask her self-inflicted pain with sparkling repartee.

The next day, Babs visited David Letterman on his CBS late-night talk show to chat about her two Thursday night ABC specials - "A Barbara Walters Special: Oprah, the Next Chapter," and "Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010."

But, sly Dave worked the conversation around to Babs's KenCen comment about Oprah. Honestly, Machiavelli could have taken Dave's correspondence course.

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

"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," Letterman insisted.

"It felt right at the time," Babs, in a somber brown dress, responded, limply.

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

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