Barbara Walters Sorry for Trying to Get Assad Aide into Columbia (UPDATE)S

Emails obtained by The Daily Telegraph through a Syrian opposition group lay bare an uncomfortably close relationship between The View matriarch Barbara Walters and the former press aide of genocidal tyrant Bashar al-Assad.

Sheherazad Jaafari, the 22-year-old daughter of Syria's UN ambassador, served as a close advisor to Assad — whom she nicknamed "the Dude" — and was on occasion "the only official in the room when he did interviews with Western journalists," according to the Telegraph.

It was Jaafari who helped Walters land the first Western interview with Assad since the start of the uprising, and it didn't take long for the "dear girl" who considered Walters her "adopted mother" to request a favor in return.

Walters says Jaafari asked for a job at ABC News, but she refused, citing a "serious conflict of interest." Nevertheless, the emails show she did reach out to Piers Morgan Tonight executive producer Jonathan Wald in an effort to help the "brilliant, beautiful" then-21-year-old get her foot in the door.

Walters also sent an email to Wald's father Richard, a lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and asked if there was "anything you can do to help" Jaafari get in good with the Admissions Office. Wald replied that Jaafari was not applying to the Journalism school but to International Affairs, but that he would still "get them to give her special attention" and was "sure they will take her."

Jaafari, who once advised Assad that the "American psyche can be easily manipulated" was ultimately turned down by both CNN and Columbia. " In retrospect," Walters said in a statement, " I realise that this created a conflict and I regret that."

UPDATE: Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs released a statement today saying Jaafari was admitted to the school, but her acceptance was "based solely on the submitted application materials."

[photo via AP]