Barbara Walters Anoints Honey Boo Boo As One of the "Most Fascinating People" of 2012

USMagazine, Tuesday, December 4, 2012, 10:00am (PST)

Haven't been taking Honey Boo Boo seriously? All you doubters better redneckognize, because the pint-size pageant queen is a pop culture force to be reckoned with -- according to Barbara Walters, at least.

The 83-year-old journalist spoke to Us Weekly Thursday, Nov. 29, about why she included 7-year-old Alana Thompson on her 2012 list of "Most Fascinating People."

VIDEO: Honey Boo Boo's craziest quotes ever

"It's a love story," Walters tells Us of the bond between Alana and her mother, June, on TLC's breakout hit. "It's a very sweet, loving story."

As much of a fan as she is personally, Walters is steeling herself for the inevitable backlash she knows her choice will inspire.

VIDEO: Eww! Mamma takes a bath in her own sweat on the show's finale

"A lot of people will say, 'For heaven's sake, this is ridiculous, this is a child at 5 or 6 years old entering beauty contests,'" she says. "But the relationship between Alana and her mother -- that's the story, the two of them. It's very touching."

The fart jokes and go-go juice Alana and her family enjoy so much belie serious, old-fashioned family values, Walters argues.

"Honey Boo Boo is not an obnoxious little girl. She's sweet and loving with her mother and loving with her sisters [Jessica, Lauryn and Anna]. And now Anna has a new baby, and the baby has [three] thumbs -- but so what? It'll make you smile," says the ABC standout.

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The news icon understands, too, that the mix of people on her list might raise a few eyebrows. Admits Walters, "The fact that we have a show with Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie and Honey Boo Boo . . . that is varied to say the least."

During a chat with her fellow View co-hosts earlier this month, Walters revealed a few other people who made the cut (including Clinton and Olympian Gabby Douglas.) For the full roundup, tune in to Walters' ABC special on December 12 at 9:30 p.m. EST.

This article originally appeared on Barbara Walters Anoints Honey Boo Boo As One of the "Most Fascinating People" of 2012

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