Meredith Vieira: Barbara Walters Likely to Be Back On Air This Week

by | May 17, 2010 at 7:10 AM | The View, TV News

Barbara Walters (ABC)

Barbara Walters (ABC)

Barbara Walters will return to TV less than two weeks after heart surgery, predicts one of her friends and ex-‘The View’ co-host, Meredith Vieira.

“[Barbara] said she’s going to be out for the rest of the summer, but I bet she’s on the air this week, at least by phone, just to let people know she’s okay,” Vieira told Fancast Saturday while promoting her syndicated ABC show ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire.’

Walters, 80, had heart surgery last week after announcing on ‘The View’ last Monday that she would be taking the summer off to have the surgery and recuperate. The surgery is to replace a faulty heart valve.

Barbara Walters’ Heart Valve Surgery ‘Went Well’

“I know she’s probably home from the hospital at this point,” Vieira says. “I have sort of laid low … I wanted to give her her space. But I’m going to reach out to her this week, hoping that she’s feeling up to taking phone calls. I don’t know if she will be. Obviously to send her a note, but just to let her know that people are thinking about her, in case she didn’t know.”

Vieira adds, “She is a tough lady, she is a strong lady, and I know she’s going to pull through this.”

While hosting the syndicated ‘Millionaire’ since 2002, Vieira has daytime duties as cohost for NBC’s ‘Today’ and contributor to ‘Dateline NBC.’

On another note, Vieira, who was a news reporter for more than 20 years, says she notices weakness in the news industry these days coming from cable TV news stations needing to fill 24 hours of programming everyday.

“The only thing I worry about with all of these different outlets is that we get a lot of heat going all the time, but I don’t know how much light there is, at the end of the day,” Vieira says. “Because we are on 24-hour news cycle, some stories are given much more attention than they really deserve, just to keep things alive. You have to fill airtime. It’s like a vacuum. That to me can be troublesome and problematic. When you look at something and go, ‘Why are we focusing so much on this?’ It takes a life of its own.”

The solution, Vieira says, is for news outlets to hold higher standards for themselves.

“As a journalist, you have a responsibility to address the real news of the day,” Vieira says. “That starts at the top and filters down. To be able to separate the junk that is out there from the content that really matters, I think, is really what our responsibility is. I think we’ve let that get away from us. Partly it is the nature of the beast, but you can say that for just so long. Then ultimately, you have to deal with the reality of that.”