When news broke of Meredith Vieira leaving the Today show, many wondered why someone would leave such a prime job. With the host's June 8 departure date just days away, here's a look at five reasons Meredith Vieira is leaving Today.
2:30 a.m. wake-up calls
Meredith Vieira's $10 million job has taken a hefty toll on the 57-year-old's sleep. "If I get up at 4 a.m., I'm facing 20 emails and I don't handle that well," Meredith explained. "I'd rather absorb the material, read it thoroughly, feed the cats and dog, get the kitchen in order. I have to leave the mother's manual for everything."
She continued, "I need to feel on top of the day, and the only way I can do that is by getting up at 2:30. I always thought, if I could've figured out a way to cut corners a little bit, it would've been easier, but I couldn't."
She's over being 'Saint Meredith'
Keeping up her Today show duties as well as caring for her 63-year-old husband Richard Cohen, who is legally blind and has multiple sclerosis, has earned Meredith Vieira a reputation she isn't too fond of. She says, "As I've become more high-profile, that's become the secondary story: 'Oh, Meredith... with her sick husband.'"
"And I've always felt it diminished me and diminished him," she says. "It was being distorted, because it looked better to make it 'Poor Meredith, she triumphs through it all,' and that wasn't the case. And Richard's saying, 'What is this? You never tend to me! You won't even get me a cup of coffee!' I said, 'I know! This scam is working!' But enough gets to be enough."
A Focus on Health
Yet as much as she hates playing the martyr, Meredith Vieira does have the health of her family in mind. "So I've been going on three hours a night for the past five years," she said. "It was starting to wreak havoc on my health, and Richard was also starting to align himself with that schedule. If it was damaging to me, you can imagine what it was doing to him."
Richard agreed, saying, "The alarm goes off on both sides of the room -- it's been a very difficult five years. I have to admit, it's a bit of a relief that she's leaving. It's not a natural way to live."
About those kids
Twenty-two-year-old Ben recently graduated from Stanford; Gabe is 19 and Lily is 18. After Meredith Vieira leaves Today she will slow down and spend the summer with her family at their cottage on Cape Cod. Meredith said, "I'm looking forward to getting up in the morning and walking in my flip-flops with our dog Jasper to this incredible little bakery nearby. I'm looking forward to finding myself again."
Enjoying life now
"We don't know from day to day what might happen," Meredith, who has had to learn this the hard way, says. "So why not enjoy life now? It's very precious, and anyone living with any kind of illness knows that. Health is fleeting, and you need to celebrate it while you still have it."
Richard, seeming pleased with the news that wife Meredith Vieira is leaving Today, added, "It was time for her to reclaim her life. I think it was a good decision."