Yet, the criticism Walters faced was heavy at times. Studio executives were skeptical of Walters bringing a “show biz tint” to often bland news segments. They also thought that the public may not have been ready to accept a female news anchor. According to ABC’s private polls, before Walters’s generous contract, only 13 percent preferred a male anchor.
Walters was not silent about the criticism she was facing. She recalled the undeniable hostility she received from her co-anchor Harry Reasoner when the two were co-anchors on the ABC Evening News from 1976 to 1978. Reasoner claimed that he did not want a co-anchor, though he worked with former CBS colleague Howard K. Smith every night on ABC for several years.
A Historical Moment– ABC Evening News
In 1976, Walters came face-to-face with an incredible offer from ABC. She was offered one million dollars a year for five years if she moved to the network. She took it, and history was made as Walters was now television’s first network anchorwoman. Along with being an anchorwoman, she was also a host and producer for four prime-time specials and documentary programs.
But Walters’s newfound success didn’t come without a downside. Her glittering contract with ABC caused criticism and jealousy. Her income from NBC had doubled, and her show "Not for Women Only" made her the highest-paid newscaster of all time (during that time).
Her Unique Success
Walters may have had an unorthodox approach to interviewing her subjects, but her techniques were groundbreaking. In fact, she decided to write a book about her career. Walters revealed the “secrets of her success” in her book "How to Talk With Practically Anybody About Practically Anything." It’s been said that Walters was so adept at interviewing because she knew what the public wanted to know.
But with an avant-garde approach came criticism. Walters’s interviewees claimed her nervousness was distracting. In contrast, others said she was overzealous, which led to mistakes (like the time she grabbed a different network’s microphone to get an on-the-spot interview). Thankfully for her, she had far more admirers than critics. Walter Cronkite himself was impressed with her interviewing talents.
A "20/20" Legacy
In 1981, after five years together on ABC, Reasoner went back to CBS News. Thankfully, Walters and Reasoner were able to have a congenial interview on "20/20". "20/20" was probably Walters’s signature show that her viewers would best remember. But, after 25 years as both co-host and chief correspondent of the riveting show, it was time for yet another important career move.
In the final season of "20/20," Walters had a line up of special interviews. Her first one was with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, followed by an interview with Martha Stewart before her trial and again after her sentencing, an in-depth conversation with the Osbournes, and also a sitdown with actor Robert Blake (which was his first time speaking publicly after his arrest).
A New Point of View
In 1997, Walters joined the daytime talk show, "The View," which she co-created and co-produced with business partner Bill Geddie. The View first aired on August 11, 1997, and was described by Walters as a representation of “different generations, backgrounds, and views.” The show was a big success and landed her a Daytime Emmy for Best Talk Show in 2003.
In 2009, Walters also won Best Talk Show Host (along with Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Sherri Shepherd). In 2014, Walters decided to step down as a regular co-host (though she would act as a guest co-host throughout 2014 and 2015).