Barbara Walters: 'I Didn't Try to Interview Donald Sterling'

Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters and Robin Roberts at Monday's dedication ceremony.
Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters and Robin Roberts at Monday's dedication ceremony.
 ABC/ Ida Mae Astute

In his opening remarks at Monday's ceremony in which ABC News' New York headquarters was renamed "The Barbara Walters Building," the network's new news head James Goldston couldn't help but praise Walters for her two big gets over the past several days: V. Stiviano and Shelly Sterling.

"Only Barbara Walters, I think, in the last week before her retirement would get both the wife and the mistress…it's a rare feat," Goldston said. "And she's become such a central figure that even now she can introduce a phrase like 'silly rabbit' into the national lexicon."

In her sit-down with Walters, Stiviano memorably said that she's Clippers owner Donald Sterling's "silly rabbit."

VIDEO: Donald Sterling's Wife Tells Barbara Walters His Racist Remarks 'Made Me Sick'

But there was one key figure in the Sterling scandal that Walters didn't interview, despite her being in talks with him to do a sit-down when she interviewed Stiviano: Donald Sterling himself.

Instead, the Clippers owner gave his first TV interview to CNN's Anderson Cooper. But Walters told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday that she doesn't feel like she was scooped.

"I didn't try to get Donald Sterling. When I was out there he was not doing any interviews," Walters explained. "I talked to him privately, but he didn't want to do interviews. I went back. Anderson Cooper stayed [and interviewed Sterling], and he did a superb job."

But Walters said in her remarks at the ceremony -- in which a plaque was unveiled renaming the building at 47 West 66th Street in Manhattan -- that she doesn't consider her legacy to be the people she's interviewed, but those she's inspired.

STORY: Barbara Walters Says Donald Sterling Backed Out of Interview

"If I have a legacy, and I’ve said this before and I mean it so sincerely, I hope that I played a small role in paving the way for so many of you fabulous women who are here tonight," Walters said, surrounded by many of her female colleagues from ABC News and various reporters and photographers covering the event. "I cannot tell you how much pleasure it gives me when some smiling young woman comes up to me and tells me about her achievements. That's my legacy."

One of those women is Diane Sawyer, both legendary journalists indicated, as the rumored foes embraced and exchanged pleasantries at Monday's ceremony.

"I am so proud of you," Walters said to Sawyer.

Sawyer added, "I'm one of those smiling women who come up to you."

VIDEO: V. Stiviano Tells Barbara Walters Donald Sterling Feels 'Emotionally Traumatized'

Walters also was joined by fellow ABC News colleagues Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Lara Spencer, Dan Abrams, Dan Harris, Juju Chang and John Quinones.

Also on hand to honor Walters were Disney CEO Bob Iger and fellow Disney and ABC executives Anne Sweeney, Paul Lee and Ben Sherwood.

Goldston praised Walters for her trailblazing achievements and what she's taught him and others.

"You set the standard for us in so many ways over the years. You've been such a trailblazer," he said. "You've taught me so much and taught all of us so much. And we thank you. You'll always be so central to the history of ABC News, to its present and to its future."

STORY: Barbara Walters Sets Final 'View' Appearance

Iger explained that he's known Walters as a colleague and a friend for almost 40 years.

"I've always been a huge fan and admirer of Barbara's, and as we stand here to celebrate all she's achieved and all she's given to the industry and the company, it's the friendship, the affection and the respect I have for Barbara as a person that brings me here today," he said. "Of all the people that I’ve been proud to work with, Barbara Walters will always be at the top of my list…. It’s the quality of the person that gets a name put on a building, not just the contributions and the accomplishments, So Barbara, while the magnitude of your career is breathtaking, and your achievements are unrivaled and will probably never quite be equaled by anyone who follows you, you are truly a remarkable person. No one is more dedicated, more unique, more passionate about their work than you are, and how fortunate it is for us that you made your home at ABC all these years. So speaking for everyone at ABC News and the entire company, we're thrilled to honor you and everything you stand for and all you've achieved by dedicating this building in your name. This is truly a historic moment for our company and a rare honor, and I can't think of anyone more deserving than you, Barbara."
 
Walters in turn noted that Iger was an ABC page when she met him.

"I am so glad that I was nice to him or they would be naming a loading dock after me," she said of her current boss.

VIDEO: Barbara Walters Talks Retirement, 'View' Co-Hosts

Iger later unveiled a plaque in the lobby of the building and read the inscription: "The Barbara Walters Building, ABC News headquarters, in recognition of Barbara Walters' historic achievements and contributions to the fields of journalism and broadcasting for the past five decades. Presented on May 12, 2014."

Monday's dedication ceremony is just one of many events ABC has planned to celebrate and honor Walters' long career as she prepares to retire, making her last appearance as co-host on The View on Friday.

Speaking to THR after the dedication ceremony, Iger said that while the week's worth of celebrations didn't feel like enough to honor Walters, he felt that naming ABC News' headquarters after her was an appropriate way to pay tribute.

"I don't think you could come up with a list of things that would do [Walters' career] complete justice because again the magnitude of the work and the quality of the person is just so incredible," Iger said. "But there were things that we felt we should do to pay our respects to her contributions and the strength of her character…. Everybody that comes in and everybody that goes out pauses to think about what she means to them."

VIDEO: Barbara Walters Says of Retiring, 'This Is What I Want to Do'

Walters told THR that she was surprised by the magnitude of Monday's dedication ceremony.

"I truthfully did not expect it. I didn't know where the plaque for 'The Barbara Walters Building' was going to be," she said. "I didn't know that all of these people would show up and my colleagues, and I'm absolutely thrilled. It's like hearing your obituary but you're alive to hear it."

After Friday's episode of The View airs, Walters will continue to serve as the show's executive producer and remain a lifelong member of ABC News, contributing reports as news warrants.

With respect to the empty chair open at The View, she said they won't rush into naming a new co-host.

"We have some time to try some different people," she said. "We have guest hosts all the time. Something will hit us and we'll say, 'I think that feels good.' But in the meantime, we have these wonderful women on as guest hosts, so we're in good shape."

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