Late US journalist Barbara Walters said she regretted pushing Ricky Martin to come out as gay

The late, legendary TV broadcaster Barbara Walters said that she regretted pressuring Ricky Martin to come out in an infamous interview.

During the interview on The View in 2000, Walters refused to drop her line of questioning after grilling Martin on the rumours surrounding his sexuality, asking: “Do [the rumours] hurt? How do you handle them?”

Martin dodged the question by replying: “Sexuality and homosexuality should not be a problem for anybody. I think that sexuality is something that each individual should deal with in their own way, and that’s all I have to say about that.”

But Barbara Walters – who died on 30 December 2022, aged 93 – refused to let it slide, asking again: “Well, you know you could stop these rumours. You could say, as many artists have, ‘Yes I am gay’, or you could say, ‘No I’m not’, or you could leave it, as you are, ambiguous.”

After a few moments of uncomfortable silence from Ricky Martin, she continued: “I don’t want to put you on the spot and it’s in your power to do it and I’m bringing it up with you Ricky because you know that this is being said and you’re even being named.”

Ten years later, Walters was asked by the Toronto Star what the one regret of her career was.

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She said: “In 2000, I pushed Ricky Martin very hard to admit if he was gay or not, and the way he refused to do it made everyone decide that he was. A lot of people say that destroyed his career, and when I think back on it now I feel it was an inappropriate question.”

It was widely felt that Martin’s sexuality damaged his career, with acting endeavours drying up following his View appearance.

Ricky Martin in a mesh t-shirt and leather top sings into a microphone
Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin was questioned by Barbara Walters in 2000. (AFP via Getty/ PABLO PORCIUNCULA)

Ricky Martin has since told People: “When she dropped the question, I felt violated because I was just not ready to come out. I was very afraid.”

“There’s a little PTSD with that,” he added.

Barbara Walters’ career spanned more than half a decade; she created daytime show The View, won 12 Emmy awards and interviewed every US president from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump.

She became the first US female network news anchor when she joined ABC News in 1976 and retired from a 52-year career in 2014 with a last appearance on The View.