Elizabeth Vargas embodies every characteristic that a good television journalist, anchor, and reporter should have: She positions herself as a bright, curious, and knowledgable source of information, as well as a voice of reason.
For nearly 30 years, she has been a reliable news source, first on NBC newsmagazine shows, then as a co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America and as an anchor of 20/20 and World News Tonight.
Her skills and personality have served her well. Vargas has stepped away from the daily news cycle in recent years to focus on long-form reporting for the A&E Network and anchoring Fox’s relaunched America’s Most Wanted public service program.
Vargas has investigated, reported on, filed, and evaluated thousands of human interest topics over her career as a journalist. Her story has been as interesting and, at times, terrifying behind the scenes as the stories she has given. Here’s a look at Elizabeth Vargas’s trials and tribulations.
Even if there is no actual physical risk, death, or illness involved, tremendous job stress and disappointment — particularly if it includes celebrities — can be difficult for those who must endure it.
According to Deadline, Vargas joined rival ABC News in 1996 after first gaining extensive exposure on NBC News programs like as Now with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric and Dateline NBC in the early 1990s. Vargas was hired as a newsreader for the popular morning show Good Morning America.
According to HispanicMagazine.com, Vargas was doing well on the morning show, and there was a “widely circulated assumption… that she may succeed Joan Lunden as Good Morning America anchor.” That, though, “didn’t pan out.”
Lunden left a year later and asked Oprah, “Where are they now?” She was told at 46 that she was too old. ABC News also passed over Vargas in favor of Lisa McRee.
According to Page Six, after being fired from Good Morning America, Elizabeth Vargas was hired by ABC News to serve on numerous primetime newsmagazine shows, including 20/20, and was designated a weekend news anchor on World News Tonight.
Vargas was virtually prepared to take over ABC’s nightly news show if and when it became vacant. When anchor Peter Jennings died in 2005, the post became vacant.
According to the Associated Press, ABC announced Vargas and co-anchor Bob Woodruff as Jennings’ replacements four months later. It lasted about six months when ABC changed the composition of the squad. According to NPR, Woodruff had to retire after suffering a major injury while reporting in Iraq, and Vargas disclosed she was pregnant and would be on maternity leave.
According to New York, Vargas was allegedly forced out of her post by Charles Gibson, a former coworker on Good Morning America.
He allegedly threatened to depart ABC if he didn’t get more money, a contract with longer time left on it, and the role as the sole anchor of World News Tonight. According to an announcement made by ABC on May 23, 2006, Vargas “had opted to stand aside,” and Gibson would take over.
Vargas told the Associated Press that she was not dismissed, despite the increasing speculations about what may or may not have happened behind the scenes. She claimed that every woman has the right to make that decision for herself and her family without being judged.
Elizabeth Vargas developed an alcohol addiction at a young age. Her spouse allegedly confronted her about her drinking, and she changed her ways. By 2009, however, she had resumed her heavy drinking, secretly traveling to clubs, consuming two bottles of wine every night, and hiding alcohol throughout the house.
During a family vacation in 2012, Vargas recalls drinking “everything in it” from the hotel minibar, necessitating IV rehydration. Vargas then entered a month-long rehabilitation program but departed halfway through.
According to ABC News, Vargas relapsed a few weeks later and established a drinking habit to unwind before a New York interview. She remembers drinking alcohol before and after the encounter, as well as getting into a car. She awoke later in a hospital. “I’m not sure what I did.” “I’m not sure what I ate,” Vargas admitted to the source.
She’d ended up in a park, where a nice stranger had helped the journalist. Vargas reported that following her discharge, she returned to treatment for a month. “She stated she noticed several individuals nearby that she didn’t like the look of and who might have considered me as a weak person at the time,” Vargas recalled. When she relapsed in 2014, her brothers and coworkers in the news banded together to help her check into a recovery center.
Elizabeth Vargas told ABC News that she initially started drinking when she was a new journalist and would go out to a bar with friends at the end of the day. Vargas discovered that drinking provided temporary relief from the terrible anxiety and panic episodes that had tormented her for years.
Vargas remembers feeling as if she could finally relax. “All of my fears would fade away.” According to her autobiography Between Breaths, the TV journalist first had anxiety and panic attacks as a young kid as a result of her father’s deployment to fight in the Vietnam War. Instead of confronting her anxiety, she suppressed it because she was ashamed of it.
Vargas revealed on The View that she was “white-knuckling my way through” as a teenager. “I was sick almost every day,” she says. She continued to have issues as an adult, and she would shiver so violently and feel so ill before newscasts that she was given beta blockers. She sought help when she could no longer control or conceal her panic attacks while on 20/20.
Marc Cohn, the author of the modern classic “Walking in Memphis,” stopped into the locker room during the 1999 U.S. Open to say hello to his friend Andre Agassi. Cohn earned the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1991. Cohn met Elizabeth Vargas there, according to the New York Times, in an attempt to arrange an interview. They got along, married three years later, and had two sons together soon after.
Unfortunately, Cohn filed for divorce in 2014, indicating that the marriage did not last. Vargas had recently returned from a drug and alcohol rehab center after a relapse in her alcohol addiction treatment, which had exacerbated issues.
Cohn had hired a lawyer and started the divorce process without Vargas’ knowledge while she was in counseling. Worse, according to Page Six sources, Cohn began an affair with Ruth Zukerman, a co-founder of Flywheel, while his divorced wife was in treatment. In a statement to the Daily Mail, Cohn said, “I have no comment regarding unpleasant rumors about a so-called “affair.”
Marc Cohn, Elizabeth Vargas’ ex-husband, was shot in the head while on tour in August 2005. According to the Denver Post, a man attempted to carjack the band’s van during a stop in Denver. When the gunman fired a gun at the van, a bullet grazed the driver and tour manager, Thomas Dube, and struck Cohn in the head.
Both Dube and Cohn were treated at a neighboring hospital; Dube was shortly released, while Cohn was given the go-ahead to return home after a few days of rest. “Honestly, I can’t tell you how he lived,” said Sonny Jackson, a spokesman for the Denver Police Department. According to Cohn, the doctors referred to him as “the luckiest unlucky individual they had met in a long, long time.”
Despite his good fortune, the incident left him with emotional scars.
“I think the thing I’ve learned is compassion to folks who have experiences like this, going ahead,” Vargas stated on 20/20.
“I believe my partner will be dealing with the psychological consequences of what occurred long after the physical wounds have healed.” Cohn told the Seattle Times that “post-traumatic stress disorder doesn’t entirely go away,” but that “it’s gotten considerably better” two years later.