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Meredith Vieira to Leave Today and Put Family First

Meredith Vieira with one of her younger fans.

This morning, Meredith Vieira announced that she will be leaving the Today Show next month. The reason? Her family. Vieira married CBS News journalist Richard M. Cohen in 1986. Cohen has battled multiple sclerosis since he was just 25. Additionally, in 1999, he was diagnosed with colon cancer, only to be hit with another diagnosis of the disease the very next year. The couple has three children together, and apparently, it’s time for Vieira to step out of the spotlight and focus on her crew.

And her decision, at least in my opinion, makes the likable Vieira even that much more so.

I’m not a big morning TV guy, but I’ve always liked the Today Show if for no other reason than because most of the personalities on the show come off as genuine to me. They’ve always seemed to gel together and have a real sense of comradery. For that reason, it was no surprise when I read in a story published by the Associated Press that the show “is careful to cultivate the image of family, and made the announcement with the five regulars seated on a couch, tossing off jokes to blunt emotion.”

Yet the real family which is the focus here isn’t the one of TV personalities, but Vieira’s actual one, for whom she’s giving up one of the most cushy jobs in the country. I wonder how many folks would walk away from such a gig to spend more time with their family. There’s little doubt that the successful careers of Vieira and Cohen have provided well for their family, so money is probably not a factor. And for anyone to walk away from their career to spend time with his or her family, the financial portion has to be under control.

Even so, it would seem to me that many might put up the facade of “family, family, family,” yet still put that family just behind a high profile gig such as the one Vieira currently holds. Which, again, makes Vieira even more likable to me. It shows she’s got her priorities in check and doesn’t confuse the person she is in real life with the persona she is on TV.

While I don’t know the specifics behind her decision, they really don’t matter to me. Because the bottom line is this: Vieira cares more about her family than she does about her position and relative fame that her position has given her. And I think that makes her special.

Though I’m delighted that Ann Curry will be taking Meredith’s spot (I love Ann), I will miss Vieira tremendously. And apparently, she’ll miss everyone, too. According to that same AP story:

” ‘Even as I say this and I know that it’s the right thing, I’m really sad,’ she said, fighting back emotion as she made the announcement on the air Monday.”

Her emotion makes it clear that she loves the Today Show. But her decision to leave makes it clear she loves her family more.

Best wishes, Meredith.

Image: Wikipedia

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