By Shiryn Ghermezian, EnStarz | Dec 13, 2012 12:27 PM EST
Barbara Walters ranked former CIA director and Gen. David Petraeus No. 1 on her list of the "10 Most Fascinating People" of 2012, an ABC special that aired Wednesday.
The list included British boy band One Direction, director and "Argo" actor Ben Affleck, Hilary Clinton, Honey Boo Boo and others. However, the extramarital affair that surfaced involving Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell, and the scandal that developed as a result of it, rocked the nation and garnered enough attention that Walters could not resist making the central figure part of her list.
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"We argued for months about who should be our most fascinating person. And then a washington scandal solidified our choice," Walters said. "We chose a man who has held this spot before on our program just two years ago. But general david petraeus was not chosen this year for his war record or his exemplary serviceto his country. This is about military honor colliding with sex and liesin the digital age."
Petraeus was called "King David" by many who saw him as the country's most respected soldier and Walters agreed, calling him "without question, one of the finest officers and military minds of his generation."
Then shockingly, he resigned as CIA director in the fall after news surfaced of his affair with Broadwell even though he has been married to Holly Petraeus for 37 years. The secret romance was revealed to the public after the FBI investigated a case having to do with Broadwell sending threatening emails to another woman, Jill Kelley, who happens to be a family friend of Petraeus. Digging into Broadwell's email files revealed that she was the one sending the emails to Kelley, and also that she was involved in a sexual relationship with Petraeus.
"The story was irresistible-- the keeper of the nation's secrets unable to conceal his own," Walters said.
The web of characters grew as Kelley got more involved in the story, then her twin sister Natalie Khawam, and then Gen. John Allen, who had sent "inappropriate" emails to Kelley. Walters ended her televisions special by asking unanswered questions about the whole ordeal:
"It was hard to understand how a man like this could fall so far from grace. Was it the femme fatalein fatigues? Did he lose his bearings when he entered civilian life? Or was it simpler?"
To watch Walters' entire ABC special, click here.
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