Meredith Vieira Reveals Her Real Reason for Leaving 'Today'

The Today host shoots down rumors that she's leaving the show to take care of her husband, who has multiple sclerosis

When Meredith Vieira announced last month that she would be stepping down as cohost of the Today show in June, rumors immediately started swirling that the reason was that she had to care for her husband, 67-year-old journalist Richard Cohen, who has multiple sclerosis. In this week's People, Vieira puts those rumors to rest.

"It was being distorted, because it looked better to make it, 'Poor Meredith, she triumphs through it all,' but that wasn't the case," the 57-year-old insists. "Richard said, '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."

In a tearful announcement to her Today colleagues -- Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Ann Curry (Vieira's replacement) and Natalie Morales -- Vieira mentioned only that "months of personal reflection and private conversations between my family and my friends" contributed to her decision to leave.

Indeed, Vieira tells People that it was the desire to spend more time with her family that ultimately led her to depart Today. And she's not just referring to Richard, who she says is in good health at the moment; the couple also has three children: Stanford grad Ben, 22, Gabe, 19, and Lily, 18, who starts college in the fall. "We don't know from day to day what might happen," Vieira 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."

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