Obama 'Most Fascinating' to Walters: He 'Redeemed the American Promise'

Unveiling President-elect Barack Obama as her “Most Fascinating Person of 2008,” Barbara Walters wrapped up her Thursday night prime time special by championing how Obama “has redeemed the American promise that an individual can make his own destiny and create a new world.” (Obama hasn't even taken office, yet he's already managed to “create a new world”?) She then presumptuously gushed: “We are all members of that new world now, and that for us makes him the Most Fascinating Person of 2008. Good luck, Mr. President.”

The other nine honorees in her special, Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2008, were revealed in advance: Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Tom Cruise, Tina Fey, Will Smith, Frank Langella, Miley Cyrus, Thomas Beatie and Michael Phelps.

My December 13, 2006 NewsBusters item, “Walters Honors Pelosi as 'Most Fascinating' Person of 2006,” recounted:
Barbara Walters ended her Tuesday night ABC News countdown special, "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2006," by touting, near the end of the 10pm EST/9pm CST hour, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the "most fascinating person of 2006." The Web page promoting the special listed the first nine profiled, but not Pelosi, as its text ended with a plug: "Who is the Most Fascinating Person of 2006? Tune in Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET to find out."

Walters celebrated Pelosi's victory: "We picked our most fascinating person on election day this past November. Next month, Congress will get a Speaker of the House unlike any before. Our most fascinating person of 2006: Mother of five and Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi. In January, Nancy Pelosi will become the most powerful woman in America. She will assume office as the first-ever female Speaker of the House, two heartbeats from the presidency." Walters soon pleaded to Pelosi: "You've talked about sometimes using your mother-of-five voice. Now I sit here, and you're very gentle. Talk to me in the mother-of-five voice." She also asked Pelosi to confirm that she thinks President Bush is "incompetent and irresponsible and not a leader?"

In her 1994 special, however, Walters did not make the then-incoming House Speaker after a party change, Newt Gingrich, her "most fascinating person of 1994." That honor went to Nelson Mandela on the December 13, 1994 show and Gingrich was not one of the other nine, a list which included Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Rupert Murdoch (for getting NFL games on Fox), Barbra Streisand and Jimmy Carter ("In his post-White House years, he seems to have left the mark that alluded his presidency and brought the role of ex-President to a new state of grace").
From the end of the Thursday night (December 4) at 10 PM EST Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2008:
BARBARA WALTERS: His belief that there is a place in America  for someone who transcends the usual labels has brought us all to this place:

BARACK OBAMA ON ELECTION NIGHT: Out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism and doubts, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can. (Cheering)

WALTERS: In becoming President, he has redeemed the American promise that an individual can make his own destiny and create a new world. We are all members of that new world now, and that for us makes him the Most Fascinating Person of 2008. Good luck, Mr. President.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center