The XX Factor

Bob Costas’ Horrific Eyes Make Meredith Vieira’s Day, and History

Nice eyes, Meredith Vieira.

Photo by Rommel Demano/Getty Images

Tonight, Meredith Vieira will become the first woman to anchor NBC’s prime-time Olympics coverage, pinch-hitting for Bob Costas after he was sidelined with a nasty case of conjunctivitis right in the middle of the big game. Hey, Costas: If you can’t stand the light, get out of the commentator’s booth. Am I right, ladies? Up top.

“As a practical matter, I simply couldn’t do my job because my eyes had become so blurry, watery and sensitive to light,” Costas said in a statement. Hey, Costas: Are you sure that’s conjunctivitis in your eye, or are you crying like a little boy?

Yesterday, Ryan Seacrest did some light Googling on Costas’ behalf and found that a couple of drops of breast milk have been said to clear up pink eye in the online pseudoscientific community. Hey, Costas: Are you going to produce that milk yourself, or do you need a woman to get it for you? That’s what I thought.

Vieira isn’t the first woman to make history after a male DQ. In 1882, Sara Reagan became the first woman to land a job in the U.S. Civil Service by taking over for a man in the revenue bureau of the Treasury who was on sick leave. When her proficiency on the calculating machine won her a pay raise from $600 to $1,200 a year, the government thought it was time to check up on the guy she’d replaced, “and found he had been dead for months.” (Game over!) In 1883, Emily Warren Roebling completed construction on the Brooklyn Bridge, and became the first to walk across it, after Roebling’s husband Washington—the chief engineer on the project—became bedridden with the bends after working in the compressed air of the caissons under the river. (That’s gotta sting!) In 1900, Utah’s Elizabeth Cohen became the first woman to endorse a candidate for president at the Democratic National Convention when the state’s male delegate became ill. (Suck it, A.H. Tarbet!) And in 1922, Rebecca Latimer Felten became the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate when she was appointed for just 24 hours after Georgia Sen. Thomas E. Watson suddenly died of a cerebral hemorrhage. (That’s legitimately awful!)

Costas says he’s determined to mount a second-half comeback before the games conclude. “In sports there’s a term that they use for people that are on the injured list. They say, ‘he’s day to day,’ and I am day to day,” he told Seacrest. “The virus, they tell me, won’t run its course for two or three weeks, but the symptoms will crest at their worst and start to get better pretty soon.” So a down-and-out sports commentator will probably get one last shot at saying stuff on the TV about the Olympics, which means that Vieira will be calling every game like it’s her last. Hey, Vieira: Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.