20/20 co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas to leave ABC after 21 years

20/20 co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas to leave ABC after 21 years
© Getty Images

Longtime "20/20" co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas will leave ABC this May after 21 years with the network, according to ABC News President James Goldston.

The announcement comes as the television news magazine will celebrate its 40th season on the air in May.

“She has decided to leave ABC News at the end of the news magazine’s 40th season in May to pursue new ventures,” Goldston said in an internal memo to staff.

ADVERTISEMENT

“One of the best broadcasters in our business, Elizabeth holds an historic place at ABC. She is only the second woman ever to serve as coanchor of 20/20," he continued. "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."

Goldston also broached Vargas's battle with alcoholism, which she made public four years ago, praising her for the decision.

“We were most proud of her courage and grace in telling her own story about her struggle with anxiety and alcoholism,” he wrote. “Her best-selling memoir ['Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction'] 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.”

Vargas also sent her own separate memo to staff stating she wanted to break the news to them instead.

"I am sorry only to have to share this news with you as we celebrate the holidays. I had hoped to make this announcement after the first of the year,” the Paterson, N.J., native wrote.

In addition to "20/20," the 55-year-old Vargas also co-anchored "World News Tonight" and "Good Morning America," among other news programs.

"20/20" has been on ABC since June of 1978 and was created by late ABC News executive Roone Arledge.