Robin Roberts returns to Good Morning America today: But is the hype too much?
The first moments of Good Morning America today kicked off the celebration that would fill the program all day, as staffers and guests celebrated the return of anchor Robin Roberts after a five-month break to treat a rare blood disorder.
"I have been waiting 174 days to say this: Good Morning America," Roberts said in the show's opening moments, surrounded by the on air team which had been cheering her recovery while the anchor underwent a bone marrow transplant. Minutes later, she added "I keep pinching myself, and I realize this is real. Faith, family and friends have brought me to this moment...I share this morning; this day of celebration, with everyone."
The first non-ABC staffer to offer congratulations this morning was one of the biggest names around: President Obama and Michelle Obama faced the camera together to welcome Roberts back, reminding the audience that the First Lady would soon sit with the anchor for an exclusive interview to air on Tuesday's show.
"You've been an inspiraton to a lot of us," President Obama said. "And we couldn't be happier that you're back here, doing what you do best."
And indeed, Roberts' triumph over myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disorder often known as "pre-leukemia", has been amazing to witness. The recipient of bone marrow provided by her sister, Roberts has been shown struggling through therapy, losing significant amounts of weight and shaving her hair close as the side-effects of treatment surfaced.
Still, amid the celebration there is no denying that her health struggle has also drawn tremendous attention to Good Morning America at a time when the show is fighting for every ratings point with former longtime ratings champ, NBC's Today show.
At a time when journalists are grousing over a lack of access to the White House, Roberts has landed a sit-down with Michelle Obama which will close February's "sweeps" ratings period. The show has extensively covered her health battles, which will also be detailed in Friday's edition of 20/20.
It may be the most detailed examination of a news anchor's personal health struggle in recent years, if at all. And it has clearly mobilized viewers, who have adopted the Team Robin motto and used her illness as the springboard for conversations about bone marrow transplants, blood diseases and cancer.
Fortunately, the story seems to have a happy ending, though she still must grow ued to the rigors of morning television, which is one of the toughest shifts to work in TV news.
But the line between informing viewers and exploiting a situation is a fine one. Here's hoping ABC walks that line with caution as Roberts gets back her sea legs on the anchor desk after a long march back to good health.