Hoda Kotb was named co-anchor of the first two hours of NBC’s venerable “Today” morning show, launching the program into a new era after the ouster of longtime co-host Matt Lauer for inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
Kotb will sit alongside Savannah Guthrie, making the NBC program at present the only national A.M. program officially anchored solely by a female team. And she will continue to co-host the 10 a.m. hour of “Today” opposite Kathie Lee Gifford, a role she has held since 2007, when she co-anchored the hour with Ann Curry and Natalie Morales. Gifford, long known for co-hosting the syndicated “Live” with Regis Philbin, joined her at “Today” in 2008, and the two have led an unorthodox morning hour that involves drinking wine, interviewing celebrities and finishing each other’s sentences. The program has proven popular enough that NBC for a time offered repeats of it during overnight hours.
Kotb took up her new duties under difficult circumstances. Lauer was fired by NBC News, part of a wave of prominent media personalities who have been accused of sexual harassment. But during her time alongside Guthrie, the show’s ratings have surged. “Today” has won more viewers overall and among the 25-to-54 crowd than “GMA” or CBS’s “CBS This Morning” for four weeks. Its lead over “GMA,” however, has slipped and it is not clear whether the NBC show can maintain its new dominance.
“Over the past several weeks, Hoda has seamlessly stepped into the co-anchor role alongside Savannah, and the two have quickly hit the ground running. They have an undeniable connection with each other and most importantly, with viewers, a hallmark of ‘Today,’ said Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News Group, in a statement Monday morning. “Hoda is, in a word, remarkable. She has the rare ability to share authentic and heartfelt moments in even the most difficult news circumstances. It’s a tribute to her wide range and her innate curiosity.”
Kotb is likely to continue doing what she has always done at “Today.” Whether trading lines with the outspoken Gifford or lending a hand during the show’s first two hours (Kotb has for months had a presence during that time), she tends to bring a sense of calm to the proceedings.
“This has to be the most popular decision NBC News have ever made and I’m so thrilled,” said Guthrie in the opening moments of Monday’s program.
NBC News makes Kotb’s new role official at an important time for the show. NBCUniversal in February will launch its usual mammoth coverage of the Olympics, an event that often lends “Today” a ratings boost.
Kotb has been with NBC News since 1998, when she joined “Dateline” as a correspondent. She had previously worked at various local stations in places such as New Orleans and Fort Myers, Florida. Kotb began her broadcast career with CBS News as a news assistant in Cairo, Egypt in 1986. She has reported on everything from war in Iraq to health issues.
But viewers have followed her personal life as well as her career achievements. They have watched as she detailed a battle with breast cancer in 2007 and they recently followed earlier this year when she adopted a daughter at age 52. They will no doubt continue to track the host in her new position.
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