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Walters says ABC ‘overly zealous’ in promos

A ‘20/20’ show about adoption was promoted like a reality show; the program is really more of documentary format.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Barbara Walters says ABC News was “overly zealous” in its promotion of this week’s “20/20” that involves five couples interviewed as potential adoptive parents.

Viewers were upset that the process, which involved a 16-year-old girl putting her baby up for adoption, had been likened to a television reality show.

The show airs Friday on ABC.

“There was a great deal of misunderstanding about the program,” Walters said in an e-mail to “20/20” viewers. “Some of that may be due to overly zealous promotion on our part. Frankly, some of our initial on-air promos went a little over the top.

“But I urge you to withhold your judgment until you watch the program.”

The birth mother, whose son was born in October, chose an “open” adoption process where she selected potential parents from the group of five applicants. The couples chosen agreed to have the process documented by ABC News.

The boy was placed with one of the families, and ABC returned a few months later to do another round of interviews.

In describing the segment last week, “20/20” co-host John Stossel said Walters “will bring you what might be called the ultimate reality show.”

“For the record,” Walters, the mother of an adopted girl, wrote, “we should say that ‘20/20’ simply reports what happened. We did not choose the participants nor exert any influence on what they did. This is not one of those scripted ‘reality shows.’ It is reality.”