Barbara Walters scored the first interview with V. Stiviano, the mysterious woman at the center of disgraced Los Angeles Clippers Donald Sterling’s scandal. For a moment, it seemed like Walters had also nabbed a sit-down with Sterling too — but apparently he backed out of an on-camera interview at the last minute and instead only spoke with Walters on the phone.
Besides the missed Sterling opportunity, TheWrap — which has closely covered the controversial story this week — found five of Walters’ other biggest whiffs during the interview, which was being billed as the broadcaster’s “final” before she retires this month.
Here are five questions which Walters didn’t ask that actually could’ve provided insight into Sterling’s legal situation and the future of one of the NBA’s most profitable franchises:
1. When Sterling said “I wish I had just paid her off,” what did he mean?
Donald Sterling final broke his silence to Jason Binn of lifestyle magazine DuJour. It’s the first time Sterling himself has spoken publicly since the whole controversy erupted, but Walters failed to ask Stiviano about it.
Because it sounds like Sterling is suggesting Stiviano leaked the tapes herself when he refused to pay up. If that’s true, Stiviano could very quickly go from the woman who helped bring a racist to justice to an inmate who got caught caught blackmailing a very rich man.
Through her lawyer, Stiviano has denied leaking the taped conversations to TMZ. At the outset of the scandal, the Clippers team claimed the woman was a jilted lover who leaked the tapes herself to “get even” for some offense Sterling supposedly committed.
Stiviano’s attorney has since suggested an unnamed greedy friend sold them to the celebrity gossip site after Stiviano shared them with a few close friends for “safekeeping.”
If Walters had asked the question, Stiviano herself would at least be on record on the matter.
2. Why did V. Stiviano record the conversations in the first place?
This is perhaps the biggest mystery at the center of the scandal. Why did Stiviano record these incriminating conversations between herself and Donald Sterling? What was her motive? Or was this just something she did all the time, like how Time Warner Cable records incoming calls “To ensure quality customer service”?
Stiviano has claimed that she is Sterling’s “archivist,” which would make recording the conversations part of her regular duties. Of course, in the interview with Walters, she also claims she is his “everything,” including his “silly rabbit,” so exactly what business she had recording these conversations remains unclear.
There is some question over whether the conversations were recorded legally. Yet the comments on those tapes were the primary basis on which NBA Commissioner Adam Silver slapped Sterling with a $2.5 million fine and a lifetime ban from the league. Regardless of whether penalty was fair, the fact that it was based on evidence that may not have been obtained legally could be seen as unfair.
3. What really is the nature of V. Stiviano’s relationship with Donald Sterling?
Walters asked this question a number of times in the interview, but never got a real answer. It may sound like gossip magazine fodder, but it’s an important question for two reasons.
If Stiviano were in fact Sterling’s “right-hand man” as she claims, she ought to have been able to provide significant insight into other incidents of alleged racist behavior and whether Sterling viewed his mostly black team and Clippers organization through bigoted eyes.
On the other hand, if she were his girlfriend, as Sterling’s wife Rochelle alleges in a lawsuit filed last fall, such a relationship could create grounds for divorce. The ensuing legal battle would almost certainly tie up Sterling’s assets and prolong the sale of his team indefinitely — or even see ownership of the team transfer to his wife, in which case, the NBA might not be able to force Sterling to sell.
4. Speaking of the lawsuit, what’s the deal there?
Stiviano probably wouldn’t have been able to talk about the currently pending suit, but Walters could have at least asked about claims Sterling’s wife made that Stiviano “engages in conduct designed to target, befriend, seduce, and then entice, cajole, borrow from, cheat, and/or receive as gifts transfers of wealth” from older men like Sterling.
Such a picture contrasts drastically from the “personal assistant” identity Stiviano claimed during the interview and could shed light on the role this woman has in the life of a man who may soon be losing his NBA team.
5. Who are these people who supposedly complained to Sterling about black people you brought to the games?
Stiviano said during the interview that Sterling only asked her not to bring black friends to Clippers games because he’d gotten pressure from others who thought the company she kept looked like “gangsters” or “thugs.” If those critics are people within the Clippers organization, investors or sponsors, or Sterling’s peers in the National Basketball Association, it could indicate a deeper, systemic problem of racism and discrimination that merits investigation.
Watch a clip of the interview here: