This morning, Meredith Vieira cut through the reports, gossip, fluff, clutter, buzz and assorted other pieces of minor background noise about her future . . . to announce her departure from "Today" in her own way:" On the air.
These last five years did seem to go by very very fast, but all the credit is due to Vieira who in many ways was one of the best co-hosts this show has had: Like Matt Lauer, she does the work, and doesn't, or rather didn't, call attention to herself. It was a calm, quiet, professional tenure and Vieira will certainly be missed. Her replacement: Ann Curry, as expected.
An interesting thing about Vieira was the sheer brevity of her tenure. She lasted only five years, and in contrast to the co-anchor she replaced, never once -- once! -- attracted the sort of negative media buzz that occasionally grows into a roar which then hastens departures. Vieira was calm and steady and ratings were largely fine. So this then leads to a question: Why leave? She says she wants to spend more time with her husband, Richard Cohen, the former CBS News producer who has written about his illness, MS (and of others), in some memorable best-sellers.
But maybe Vieira just got bored with the grind. This is a tough show to do -- even if the ride is smoothed by a $10-million-per-year paycheck. The day begins at 4, ends around 6 p.m., if not later. The stories -- as news can be - are sometimes fascinating, but -- in servicing the diet of an omnivorous program that covers everything from OBL to the latest diet fad to more-often-than-not the prototypical story of a mom whose child is missing and has since been reunited with her -- they can also be wearying, and mind-depleting.
Maybe Mere just had enough. In fact, this all-too-brief departure was predicted five years ago. Go to this post for more one what Meredith said this morning at a press conference and a Newsday column from 2006 that provided a glimpse into Vieira's mindset.