When getting a live tour of the White House by then-first lady Barbara Bush, Katie Couric ended up scoring a coup—interviewing President George HW Bush, who showed up unexpectedly. The following day, Couric received a note from Barbara Walters, ostensibly a rival over at ABC. “Dear Katie, You were terrific with Mrs. Bush (you knew far more than she did) and nabbing the president was a real coup," it reads. "You are so darn good! Bravo! Barbara.” In a New York Times essay that pays tribute to Walters, who died Friday, Couric writes that she still has the note framed in her office to this day.
That she does is a testament to Walters' clout in the industry, particularly in regard to female journalists. Couric writes that she never would have become co-anchor of the Today show had Walters not paved the way for her and others. "She fought like hell for everything she got," usually among condescending men, writes Couric. The essay runs through Walters' career and concludes with life advice Walters embodied: "Don't take no for an answer." Walters "never did," writes Couric. "And because of her, the generations of working women in journalism and other fields heard 'yes' a lot more often. Thank you, Barbara. We couldn’t have done it without you." (Read the full essay.)