Popular TV host Walters 'regrets' link to Assad
BARBARA Walters, the grande dame of American television news, was forced to apologise last night after it emerged she had tried to use her influence to further the career of a former leading aide of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Emails obtained by a Syrian opposition group show Ms Walters tried to help Sheherazad Jaafari, the daughter of Syria's UN ambassador, secure a place at an Ivy League university and an internship with Piers Morgan's CNN programme.
When confronted with the emails, the 82-year-old ABC broadcaster admitted a conflict of interest and expressed "regret" for her actions.
Ms Jaafari (22) was a close adviser to Mr Assad and was at his side as Syrian troops dramatically stepped up their campaign of killing and repression.
Ms Jaafari -- whose father Bashar Jaafari has known Ms Walters for around seven years -- began dealing with the broadcaster late last year as ABC News lobbied for an interview with Mr Assad.
Ms Walters' interview in December made headlines around the world as Mr Assad denied he was responsible for the crackdown, which had already resulted in thousands of deaths across Syria.
The emails show that after the interview Ms Jaafari and Ms Walters stayed in close contact. (© Daily Telegraph, London)