Barbara Walters apologized to Elizabeth Vargas for claiming their ABC News colleagues knew she was an alcoholic before Vargas admitted having a drinking problem.
The awkward exchange occurred on the Feb. 5 episode of The View, when Walters and her co-host Jenny McCarthy interviewed Vargas.
McCarthy had asked Elizabeth what made her finally seek help for her longtime alcoholism. Vargas replied: "I showed up for a shoot on '20/20' and I was in no condition to shoot that interview."
Walters interrupted, "We [at ABC News] all knew. It was public at that point." Elizabeth replied that this was not true, to which Walters awkwardly quipped," No, but we all knew [you were an alcoholic]."
Walters has since apologized. "I love Elizabeth and have great admiration for her," she said. "I never would have deliberately said anything to hurt her, and I called to tell her that.”
In January 2014, Vargas confessed she was an alcoholic and had gone to rehab in November 2013 to get treated for her decades-old drinking addiction.
Elizabeth said her alcoholism stemmed from her longtime anxiety issues. She had severe panic attacks as a child, when she spent a lot of time alone because her dad was away serving in the Vietnam War, while her mom left home every day to go to work. Vargas said the anxiety and panic attacks continued into adulthood, and she began drinking to cope.
"I dealt with that anxiety, and with the stress that the anxiety brought, by starting to drink," she said. "And it slowly escalated and got worse and worse."
Vargas admits she still has the urge to drink sometimes but is glad she got help for the sake of her sons, ages seven and 10. Elizabeth, who's a part of Alcoholics Anonymous, said she still feels crippling anxiety at times, but has come to realize it's OK to feel anxious.
"There are lots of people who feel a lot of stress," she said. "Not everybody turns to a glass of wine or three like I did. [Anxious feelings are] not going to kill you. You have to experience them. Alcohol for me is no longer an option."