Elizabeth Vargas Leaving ABC News

By Chris Ariens 

Elizabeth Vargas is leaving ABC News.

Vargas, who has spent the last 21 years at ABC, will depart in the spring, at the conclusion of the 40th season of 20/20. Vargas has co-hosted the prime-time newsmagazine for the last 14 years.

“I am sorry only to have to share this news with you as we celebrate the holidays,” Vargas wrote in a note to staff, obtained by TVNewser. “I had hoped to make this announcement after the first of the year.”

ABC News president James Goldston, who calls Vargas “one of the best broadcasters in our business,” said she is leaving “to pursue new ventures.”

Vargas, 55, joined ABC News in 1996 after three years at NBC News. Before that Vargas was a reporter/anchor at WBBM in Chicago. She got her start in TV at KOMU TV at her alma mater, the University of Missouri.

“It has been a profound privilege to be the anchor of 20/20 for 14 years, and a true honor to work with each and every one of you,” she wrote in her note. “I am incredibly lucky to work alongside the very best in the business: the producers, editors, writers on this show, and the enormous team working every week to get our show on the air. I am so very proud of the stories we have told together.”

While Vargas has spent most of her ABC News career on 20/20, she began as news anchor on Good Morning America, and also anchored the weekend editions of World News Tonight. In 2005, following the death of Peter Jennings, she and Bob Woodruff were named co-anchors of World News Tonight. The Vargas-Woodruff pairing was short-lived, however, after Woodruff was seriously injured while on assignment in Iraq.

Vargas returned to 20/20.

“Elizabeth holds an historic place at ABC,” writes Goldston. “She is only the second woman ever to serve as co-anchor of 20/20. She moved into that role—a daunting assignment to follow in the footsteps of our legendary Barbara Walters—with true determination to tell the stories from around the globe that explore important issues in depth and tap into significant moments in our culture.”

Vargas has been in the anchor chair for some of the biggest breaking news events in the past two decades, including the 9/11 attacks and the death of President Ronald Reagan. She’s anchored special reports and breaking news specials ranging from the death of Muhammad Ali, to coverage of the deadly Orlando nightclub massacre and the 2015 Paris terror attacks..

“But we were most proud of her courage and grace in telling her own story about her struggle with anxiety and alcoholism,” Goldston writes. “Her best-selling memoir has helped so many people by raising awareness about the importance of finding treatment for millions who are still struggling. She continues to be an inspiration for us all.”

ABC plans a celebration of Vargas’ “many outstanding accomplishments with a proper send-off.”

“This is not goodbye—I will be here through May, and cannot wait to do more work with all of you in the months ahead,” Vargas writes.

David Muir and Elizabeth Vargas at a lighting ceremony at the Empire State Building in September marking the 40th season of 20/20.