Controversy Over Today Show Guest: Vieira’s Husband

By Alissa Krinsky 

With the conclusion of Today‘s three-part segment on chronic illness, the AP’s David Bauder reports that a Poynter Institute expert is questioning the ethics of the series, inspired by a new book by Richard Cohen, Meredith Vieira‘s husband.

Cohen, who has Multiple Sclerosis, has written Strong at the Broken Places, about people living with illness. Vieira, who stated on-air that Cohen is her husband, interviewed him Wednesday in-studio, along with some of the book’s subjects.

The Poynter Institute’s Bob Steele tells Bauer that Today could have given the story to Matt Lauer or Ann Curry. Bauer writes that “there’s also the issue of providing Cohen with three days of publicity on the top-rated morning news show…”

Today Executive Producer Jim Bell tells Bauer, “In a way I think it would have drawn more attention to it if (Vieira) did not do (the story).”

Bell also says Cohen’s book addresses important subject matter, of interest to viewers. “If the guy was writing a book on a topic we didn’t care about, or if he wasn’t an accomplished author or if it wasn’t getting attention at other places, I think it would be an issue. But I don’t think that was the case here.”