'GMA' Coverage Of Robin Roberts' Illness 'Helped' Ratings: Brian Stelter (VIDEO)

04/25/2013 04:14 pm ET

When Robin Roberts announced that she would have to take some time off to receive treatment for a rare blood disorder called MDS, "GMA" kept viewers abreast of her recovery while she was off the show. Though she returned to the show in February, questions still arise about how the morning show covered her medical journey.

The New York Times' Brian Stelter, who recently released Top of the Morning -- a book on the morning show wars that discusses Roberts' diagnosis and absence -- said the coverage of Roberts' illness "helped" the show's ratings.

"I think it could have hurt, but it has helped," he said. "The viewers rallied around the show last year. The show was very good at reminding people about Robin, and coming right up to that line where they could be accused of exploitation without stepping all the way over. There was a little bit written accusing them of exploiting her illness, but not a lot. Those kind of claims, although I think some people may truly feel that way, it wasn't so pronounced as to be uncomfortable for viewers."

Roberts was briefly hospitalized earlier this month, but has been back on the air.

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