Barbara Walters to Paris: "You're Not Up to My Standards"

Thems be fightin' words, Barbara! Paris Hilton will be spilling her guts to Larry King -- instead of Barbara Walters --- when she gets released from jail on Tuesday. And Barbara wouldn't have it any other way. Babs told the New York Post's Cindy Adams that, though she was prepared to talk to the heiress, she felt that snagging the first post-clink interview was not up to her standards of journalism. "Look, I've done prison interviews before, but people like the Menendez Brothers were really important news stories," Babs said. "This wasn't. And even though I'd already written my questions, when all that pay-for-play stuff happened, I suddenly felt this was not up to my standard. It . . . felt . . . sort of . . . tawdry. The whole thing somehow was beneath me. Besides, it was a no-win. If I did a tough piece and her tears started to flow, it would be, 'Oh, there's Barbara Walters making people cry again.' Too soft, and I'd be criticized."

ABC execs wanted Paris to talk to one of their own, but according to Barbara, the network respected her decision to pass. "I'm fortunately at a point in my life where I can choose what I want, and this was solely my decision. But I must tell you how classy ABC was. They didn't try to force me or say they'd place it on Nightline, or give it to someone else to do or any of the things they could have done. They respected my decision and walked away. "Some agreed with my decision, some didn't. For me it was just a question of respect."

I wonder how Bab's "good friend" Kathy Hilton will feel about her daughter's sentence not being considered serious enough for Barbara to report on. I think I can hear the scratching off of Barbara's name from the Hilton's Christmas card list.

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