Before he became the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. David Petraeus was already a pretty fascinating personality. But it wasn’t his big promotion which led him to top Barbara Walters’ list of the year’s “most fascinating” people — it was his spectacular fall from grace amidst a Washington sex scandal and international cover-up:

On her Wednesday night ABC special, Barbara Walters named Gen. David Petraeus as her Most Fascinating person of 2012.

“We argued for months,” over the choice, said Walters.

“David Petraeus was not chosen this year for his war record or his exemplary service to his country,” said Walters. “This is about military honor, colliding with sex and lies in the digital age.”

This year marks Petraeus’ second appearance at the top of Walters’ annual list since 2010.

Other newsmakers on the “10 Most Fascinating People of 2012″ list this year:

• Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James

• Actor Ben Affleck

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

• Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas

• Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

• British boy-band One Direction

• 2013 Oscars host and creator of TV’s Family Guy , Seth MacFarlane

• Prince Harry and Honey Boo Boo were also featured on the list but were not interviewed.