My Baby or My Job
MC: Tell me about the day you heard Bob Woodruff had been
EV: It was a Sunday, predawn. The phone rang—the phone never rings at
that hour with good news. It was Paul Slavin, my boss. He pulled no punches. He
told me how bad it was. It was only 45 minutes after the bombing. Lee
[Woodruff’s wife] didn’t even know yet; they were trying to find her. She was
with her kids at Disney World. So we bundled up Zachary and went to the office.
That night, I anchored the news. It was the lead story everywhere, and you’re
in the uncomfortable position of covering the news when the news is you. It was
a really, really hard day. It was especially hard for Marc, because I’d been in
Iraq several weeks earlier, and Lee had made a point of calling him and
soothing his fears.
MC: How is Bob doing now?
EV: He really has defied the odds. But at that point, all we knew was,
Bob’s injuries were life-threatening. The network had to figure out what to do.
I was still only nine or 10 weeks preg¬nant, and I would have liked to have
gotten through the first trimester before saying anything, but it wasn’t fair.
They were game-planning, and they needed to know. By August, when I would have
the baby and take leave—and because of the difficulty of my first pregnancy, I
knew I would be having a C-section—a show designed to have two anchors would
have no anchor. What was going to happen on 9/11, the fifth anniversary? What
would happen if something momentous, a hurricane or another terrorist attack,
MC: So if Bob hadn’t been injured, you still would have been the
EV: Undoubtedly. Bob would be in that chair, with someone filling in for
me, and I’d return—perhaps.
MC: Why “perhaps? Did the idea of having two small children seem
EV: Other female anchors, like Katie Couric and Soledad O’Brien, also
have children. But Katie’s are older now. And Soledad does a morning show, so
she’s there for them in the evenings. While I was doing the news solo, Marc and
I saw the toll it took on Zachary—he would refuse to go to sleep till Mommy
came home. It was heartbreaking.
MC: In May 2006, Charlie Gibson, who had reportedly lobbied hard for
the job, was named sole anchor. When the news got out that he’d been given the
job instead of you, you became a poster child for women shunted aside be-cause
of pregnancy. NOW joined with the Feminist Majority Foundation and the National
Council of Women’s Organizations to protest your depar¬ture. In a letter sent
to ABC, they called your move to 20/20 a “clear demotion” and “a dispiriting
return to the days of discrimination against women that we thought were behind
us.” NOW president Kim Gandy told the Washington Post, “It seems unlikely to
me, having survived and thrived through her first pregnancy, that she would
logically give up the top job in TV a few months out, anticipating she couldn’t
handle it. It just doesn’t strike me as a logical explanation. I don’t think
there are too many men who would be happy to be removed from the anchor
EV: I salute 100 percent these organizations. But I will tell you,
nobody from any one of them ever spoke to me. No one ever asked, point blank,
“What happened to you? Did you get pushed out because you’re pregnant, and are
you upset about it?”