During the historic Iraqi elections in December 2005, she reported extensively for “World News Tonight” from Baghdad on both civilian life in Iraq and American military involvement there. She has interviewed leaders from around the world, including President Bush from the Oval Office in the White House. Her international coverage has sent her to Beslan, Russia, where she found stories of hope after rebels attacked a school and killed more than 300 people, over half of them children. She also reported from the Middle East for a special on the resurrection of Jesus and reported from Cambodia on the plight of orphans and questionable international adoption practices there.
Vargas anchored ABC News’ live coverage of the deaths of President Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, Jr., reported on Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, and in 2000 won an Emmy for Outstanding Instant Coverage of a News Story for anchoring live coverage of the Elian Gonzalez case.
The New York Times credited Vargas in November 2004 as reinvigorating the newsmagazine format with her “intellectually brave” reporting of an examination of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a young man whose murder gained national attention as an anti-gay crime. In July 2003, she hosted “In the Shadow of Laci Peterson,” an ABC News special that examined the disappearances of several young women in northern California and why their stories failed to attract significant media attention. In November 2003, she anchored “Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci,” an hour investigating many theories raised in the bestselling novel “The Da Vinci Code.” And her February 2001 exclusive interview with the owners of two dogs that killed a San Francisco woman was so revealing, prosecutors in the case say it was critical to winning convictions against the couple. More recently Vargas hosted “Human Footprint,” a ground-breaking National Geographic special that followed the cradle-to-grave consumption of an average American boy and girl, which aired in April 2008.
Among the varied celebrities Vargas has interviewed are actors, musicians, business leaders and authors, including Ellen DeGeneres, Monica Seles, Jeff Skoll, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Depp, Hugh Hefner, Jessica Simpson, Mick Jagger, Drew Barrymore, Dan Brown, Alanis Morissette and Cat Stevens.
In 2002, Vargas was the narrator of the four-part, award-winning ABC News documentary series “ICU,” which provided a unique look at life inside one of the nation’s elite pediatric cardiology intensive care units. She has anchored and reported several one-hour ABC News “Vanished” specials. Other hour-long specials include “Same-Sex Marriages,” “Surrogacy” and “It Takes a Miracle.” She has also been involved in ABC’s Children First Program, participating in a Children First Safety Special and in ABC’s March Against Drugs.