Sharing the Weekend Update desk with Cecily Strong, Walters gets in a few stern comments about her prior depictions on “Saturday Night Live,” before indulging in some humor at her own expense. Walters was often criticized for throwing softball questions at her interview subjects, most notoriously asking Katherine Hepburn in a 1981 interview, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”
Like many notorious quotes, this one has been heavily paraphrased and taken out of context. In the original interview, it was Hepburn who said she felt like a strong tree in her old age, to which Walters responded with the follow-up question, “What kind of tree are you?” (Hepburn’s answer: an oak tree). Walters corrected the record in a 2004 “20/20” special, which today demonstrates an eerie bit of forethought. “At my funeral, or perhaps in my obituary, it may mention that I once asked Katherine Hepburn what kind of a tree she wanted to be. Well, that’s not exactly what happened,” Walters said, playing the original clip as proof. “I didn’t ask her, she brought it up! What was I to do?”
Frankly, it’s impossible to get through 50 years on camera without asking a silly question or two (I have personally asked many silly questions in a mere fraction of that time). But when it comes to the matter of Katherine Hepburn and the tree, consider the record corrected, Barbara Wawa.