Award-Winning ABC News Anchor and Correspondent,
Co-Anchor of 20/20
Elizabeth Vargas has traveled the world covering breaking news stories, reporting in-depth investigations and conducting newsmaker interviews. She is currently the co-anchor of 20/20 with David Muir.
During the historic Iraqi elections in December 2005, she reported extensively for “World News Tonight” from Baghdad on both civilian life in Iraq and American military involvement there. She has interviewed leaders from around the world, including President Bush from the Oval Office in the White House. Her international coverage has sent her to many destinations including Beslan, Russia, the Middle East, and Cambodia to report on the plight of orphans and questionable international adoption practices there. She also anchored ABC News’ live coverage of the deaths of President Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, Jr., reported on Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. In July 2003, she hosted “In the Shadow of Laci Peterson,” an ABC News special that examined the disappearances of several young women in northern California and why their stories failed to attract significant media attention. In November 2003, she anchored “Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci,” an hour investigating many theories raised in the bestselling novel “The Da Vinci Code.” And her February 2001 exclusive interview with the owners of two dogs that killed a San Francisco woman was so revealing, prosecutors in the case say it was critical to winning convictions against the couple. More recently Vargas hosted “Human Footprint,” a ground-breaking National Geographic special that followed the cradle-to-grave consumption of an average American boy and girl, which aired in April 2008.
Awards and Accolades
In 2000, Vargas won an Emmy for Outstanding Instant Coverage of a News Story for anchoring live coverage of the Elian Gonzalez case.The New York Times credited Vargas in November 2004 as reinvigorating the newsmagazine format with her “intellectually brave” reporting of an examination of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard.
Among the varied celebrities Vargas has interviewed are actors, musicians, business leaders and authors, including Ellen DeGeneres, Monica Seles, Jeff Skoll, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Depp, Hugh Hefner, Jessica Simpson, Mick Jagger, Drew Barrymore, Dan Brown, Alanis Morissette and Cat Stevens.
Vargas was previously co-anchor of “World News Tonight,” anchor of “World News Tonight Sunday,” substitute anchor on “Good Morning America,” correspondent for “20/20” and “Primetime Thursday,” and co-anchor of “Primetime Monday.” She joined ABC News from NBC News, where she was a correspondent and anchor, primarily for “Dateline NBC” and “Today.” At NBC she also served as substitute anchor for the weekend editions of “NBC Nightly News.” She joined NBC News in 1993 as a correspondent for the newsmagazine “Now With Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric.”
Prior to joining NBC News, Vargas spent four years as a reporter and anchor for WBBM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Chicago. From 1986-89, she was the lead reporter for KTVK-TV, the ABC affiliate in Phoenix. Earlier she worked as a reporter/anchor for KTVN-TV, the CBS affiliate in Reno, Nev.
Vargas graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., where she began her broadcasting career as a reporter/anchor for KOMU-TV.
In an appearance on “Good Morning America” in January 24, 2014, Elizabeth acknowledged she was an alcoholic and said hiding her problem had been “exhausting.” Vargas said she’d battled panic attacks since she was a child & daily panic attacks that continued into adulthood. “I dealt with that anxiety, and with the stress that the anxiety brought by starting to drink. And it slowly escalated and got worse and worse,” she said. Vargas said alcoholism was “a progressive, deadly disease,” and said she didn’t start drinking until later in life. After 2 stays in rehab, she returned home & work. Vargas said she feels very strong and has a great support system in place. She is a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous. Elizabeth is now discussing her battle with anxiety & alcoholism in a keynote address.
Vargas’s memoir Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction details her struggles with anxiety and alcohol, and tells a powerful story of healing and coping. A special episode of 20/20 will air in conjunction with the book’s release, in which Vargas and Diane Sawyer will discuss Vargas’ experiences, report on the link between anxiety and alcohol abuse, and interview both addiction experts and people recovering from addiction.