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Susan Page on Barbara Walters: Television’s Rulebreaker

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0574
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This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Susan Page (Photo: Hannah Gaber)

Barbara Walters was a force from the time TV was exploding on the American scene in the 1960s to its waning dominance in a new world of competition from streaming services and social media half a century later. Not only a groundbreaker for women (Oprah announced when she was 17 that she wanted to be Barbara Walters), she also expanded the big TV interview format and then dominated the genre.

By the end of her career, Walters had interviewed more of the famous and infamous, from presidents to movie stars to criminals to despots, than any other journalist in history. Then at 67, past the age many women broadcasters found themselves involuntarily retired, she pioneered a new form of talk TV with “The View.” Walters is on the short list of those who have left the biggest imprints on television news and our culture, male or female.

Drawing on her new book The Rulebreaker, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief of USA Today, examines the woman behind the legacy. She looks at how Walters was driven to keep herself and her family afloat after her mercurial and famous impresario father attempted suicide. She never lost the fear of an impending catastrophe, which led her to ask for things no woman had ever asked before, to ignore the rules of misogynistic culture, to outcompete her most ferocious competitors, and to protect her complicated marriages and love life from scrutiny.

Page discusses the most successful female broadcaster of all time­—a woman whose personal demons fueled an ambition that broke all the rules and finally gave women a permanent place on the air.

Copies of The Rulebreaker (Simon & Schuster) are available for purchase.

Book Sale Information

  • Purchase your copy of The Rulebreaker by Susan Page here.
  • SPECIAL NOTE: Politics and Prose is offering a 10% discount to Smithsonian Associates ticket-holders. To claim your discount, enter the code SPECIAL10 (no space between letters and numbers) in the “Coupon discount” or “Comments” section on Politics and Prose's check-out page.

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