Barbara Walters revealed on Thursday that she had rejected demands made by Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman in exchange for an interview.
The New York Post reported on Thursday that Walters had traveled down to Florida with the intention of interviewing Zimmerman, but walked away after he requested that ABC get him a hotel room for a month.
Walters was not competing for the first interview with Zimmerman, as he had already granted that privilege to Fox News' Sean Hannity. Hannity's interview aired on Wednesday night.
Walters confirmed much of the Post's story on Thursday's "View." She explained that Zimmerman's lawyer, whom she referred to as "effective," confirmed Tuesday night that Zimmerman would do an interview. Walters said that Zimmerman was going to tape an interview with Hannity before sitting down with her. Walters said Hannity "had been very supportive to [Zimmerman] in the past and George Zimmerman told me that he was very grateful, and I appreciated his loyalty to Hannity."
Walters agreed that her interview would tape and air after Zimmerman sat down with Hannity. She said that she had then flown down to Florida for the interview.
When Walters and her team arrived in Florida, she said that Zimmerman came in dressed in a t-shirt, rather than a suit. "That should have been my first clue," she said.
According to Walters, Zimmerman said that the plans had changed, and he was refusing to do the interview unless ABC granted him one request. Walters refused to confirm that he had requested a month-long stay in a hotel. "It was a condition that, being a member of ABC News, I was unable to grant," she said.
Walters described Zimmerman as "desperate for money" and "very worried about his family." She also said he was "polite, soft-spoken, stubborn." She said that his lawyers "wanted him to do the interview."
The drama took a bizarre twist when Walters announced that Zimmerman wanted to call into the show to speak to Walters. "He wouldn't do the interview, but now he has something to say," she said, later adding, "This has been an interesting day, to say the least."
She then pointedly refused to put him on air. "Mr. Zimmerman, if you could not do the interview yesterday, I don’t think we should do a quick one today," she said. "In the future if you feel differently, we will consider it.”
Though she did not acknowledge that there had been any monetary request made of the network, Walters has asserted in the past that ABC News does not pay for interviews.
In July 2011, ABC News chief Ben Sherwood announced that the network would stop licensing photos, since questions about payment would inevitably follow after ABC News nabbed a major interview.
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