“Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts has acknowledged publicly for the first time a longstanding relationship with a woman, marking another bout of personal disclosure for the popular newswoman whose 2012 fight with myleodysplastic syndrome corresponded with a surge in the ratings for the ABC morning show.
In a post made Sunday on Facebook, Roberts said she was mulling her state a year earlier, in 2012, when she reached an important 100 day-milestone after undergoing a blood marrow transplant.
“At this moment I am at peace and filled with joy and gratitude. I am grateful to God, my doctors and nurses for my restored good health,” she wrote. “I am grateful for my sister, Sally-Ann, for being my donor and giving me the gift of life. I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together. I am grateful for the many prayers and well wishes for my recovery. I return every one of them to you 100 fold. On this last Sunday of 2013 I encourage you to reflect on what you are grateful for too.”
An ABC News spokeswoman said Roberts has been in a ten-year relationship with a woman named Amber Laign, a massage therapist in private practice originally from the Bay Area, and noted that the two had met through mutual friends. Laign specializes in helping people recovering from injuries, the spokeswoman said.
Roberts’ personal life has become intertwined with her professional one since the revelation of her disease in 2012 and the on-air updates that followed regarding her status. ABC wrung much from her absence, giving viewers regular reports and letting them visit with Roberts via video or a short visit she made to the set during her recovery period.
While Roberts was gone, ABC’s “Good Morning America” extended the number of weeks it trumped NBC’s “Today” for the viewers advertisers covet. These days, “GMA” is firmly in the lead, while executives at NBC News have made changes, including the addition of Carson Daly to the morning broadcast, aimed at bringing viewers back to its fold. “Today” had dominated the morning talk-show realm for 16 years until hitting a snag in 2012 during an awkward transition between co-host Ann Curry and her replacement, Savannah Guthrie.
ABC News has under the aegis of its president, Ben Sherwood, continued to focus on the personal lives of its on-air correspondents. In recent weeks, reporter Amy Robach has generated publicity by telling the story in November of her discovery of having breast cancer after receiving a mammogram on television a month earlier. The correspondent subsequently underwent a double mastectomy and returned to ABC’s air in December.
In October, “20/20″ anchor Elizabeth Vargas disclosed she was entering a program for treatment of alcohol dependency. She has since confirmed she’s completed treatment, but a definitive return to the air has not been disclosed.
Roberts’ disclosure comes just days after a furor over anti-gay remarks made by Phil Robertson, head of the clan featured in A&E’s reality series “Duck Dynasty.” During an interview with GQ magazine, Robertson cast aspersions on people in same-sex relationships and African-Americans, prompting a suspension by the cabler’s parent, A+E Networks, and a quick reversal of the decision – drawing anger from supporters of both Robertson and the groups he offended. As co-host of what is arguably the nation’s favorite morning program, Roberts may help fuel more discussion and debate in this latest clash of cultural values.
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