A new book says that Barbara Walters boasted of love affairs with Israel’s foreign and defense ministers, Moshe Dayan and Ezer Weizman, in 1978-1979 while she was covering Camp David negotiations for ABC news.
In “Jimmy Carter: The White House Years”, Carter’s former domestic policy adviser, Stuart Eizenstat, quotes Gerald Rafshoon, Carter’s former communications director, as saying that Walters– who was 49 and divorced at the time –bragged to him of having affairs with the ministers, both of them Israeli generals.
Eizenstat reports that on day 3 of the heated negotiations at Camp David in September 1978, a busload of reporters were granted access to the retreat for just 45 minutes, and Walters went missing, hiding in the ladies’ room in order to “hang back to interview Dayan and Weizman.”
Decades later, when Rafshoon was producing a play on Camp David [in 2014], he saw Barbara Walters and she jokingly asked: “Well who’s playing me?” Rafshoon replied: “Nobody.” She admitted she had been trying to interview the two Israeli heroes and confided: “You know, I had a love affair with both of them.” Was she joking about that? Rafshoon, it seems, took her at face value. It later dawned on him that this might also help explain what was happening when Rafshoon saw Walters with Weizman at the bar of the King David Hotel on the final day of Carter’s trip to Egypt and Israel [in March 1979]. According to Rafshoon, Walters said that Weizman had told her that they would meet in her room, but then he called her and reversed course: “We’re on our way down.” “What do you mean?” she asked. Weizman said he meant himself and his wife: “I want her to meet you.” Whether or not she was again joking, she was certainly burnishing her reputation as an insider among the world’s statesmen. But in any event, she confided to Rafshoon: “I was so mad. I had bought new lingerie.”
The book, which was published in spring 2018, footnotes two interviews Eizenstat had with Rafshoon, in 2014 and 2015. I emailed ABC News PR department and Walters’s PR agency two days ago with the Eizenstat quotes but did not receive a response.
In her 2008 memoir, “Audition,” which billed her as the “most important woman in the history of television journalism,” Walters, who is Jewish, describes flirtations with both Weizman (1924-2005) and Dayan (1915-1981). She says Dayan and she became “great friends” and that they shared an interest in archaeology. She says she was also friends with his wife Raquel.
As for Weizman, Walters echoed a 1979 gossip item about the former air force leader flirting with her at the King David Hotel during Carter’s visit. Weizman passed a group of reporters when Walters called out, “Please give me two minutes.” “’Two minutes I’ll gladly give you,’ replied Weizman, striding over to embrace his old friend, ‘but like this—without words.’”
News outlets have traditionally barred romantic relationships between reporters and sources. In 1977 a New York Times reporter lost her job for sleeping with a Pennsylvania politician, whom she later married, and A.M. Rosenthal, the crusty executive editor of the paper, famously said, “I don’t care if you’re screwing elephants, so long as you’re not covering the circus.” But of course the US and Israel have a “special relationship,” so all bets are off…
H/t Allison Deger, James North, Adam Horowitz.