Hoda Kotb was named co-anchor of “Today” on Tuesday morning and officially headlined the broadcast with Savannah Guthrie.
Kotb, 53, had been behind the anchor desk of NBC’s morning news show in a temporary role since Matt Lauer was fired in November. Lauer’s dismissal came after a female colleague made a detailed complaint accusing him of inappropriate sexual behavior.
In announcing Kotb’s appointment on “Today,” Guthrie, 46, told viewers: “This has to be the most popular decision that NBC News has ever made.”
“I am pinching myself,” said a beaming Kotb. “I think we should send some medics to Alexandria, Virginia, where my mom has likely fainted after hearing the open of that show.”
NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said in an email that Kotb has “seamlessly stepped” into the position, and with Guthrie, “quickly hit the ground running.”
“They have an undeniable connection with each other and most importantly, with viewers, a hallmark of Today,” Lack added.
Kotb is a familiar face with “Today” viewers, co-hosting the fourth hour of the show with Kathie Lee Gifford since 2008. Lack said she would continue in that role.
“Hoda is, in a word, remarkable,” Lack said. “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 was a news anchor in New Orleans before joining NBC News in 1998 as a correspondent for “Dateline.” In 2010, she released the book, “Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee,” and announced last year that she had adopted a baby girl. She also hosts “The Hoda Show on SiriusXM.”
Kotb’s pairing with Guthrie is also a rarity for morning news, with two female co-anchors leading a national broadcast. The first time was when Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts co-anchored ABC’s “Good Morning America” from 2006 to 2009.
In a joint interview with “People” published online Tuesday, Kotb and Guthrie said they were enthusiastic about their partnership.
“When you click with someone, man, woman, it doesn’t matter. If it works, it works,” Kotb told the magazine. “We’re sort of like sisters, and everybody wants a sister.”
Guthrie and Kotb were the ones to share the news of Lauer’s firing live on the broadcast. Both women say they are friends with Lauer, who was on the show for two decades.
“That morning was so hard, but Hoda and I were in it together,” Guthrie said. “We are family, and families do go through hard times, and when that happens in good families, you just get closer.”
Lauer had helped “Today” remain a ratings powerhouse, battling “Good Morning America” for viewership in key demographics. As the big three broadcast networks have grappled in general with declining ratings in the morning, “Today” still rakes in major money — about $508 million in ad revenue in 2016, according to the research firm Kantar Media.
After Lauer’s firing, he released a statement saying he was “truly sorry” and has since kept out of the public eye. Guthrie said Lauer is “working on his family, we know that for sure.”
Kotb, meanwhile, said she didn’t fill in for him with the intention of being selected as the permanent co-anchor of one of the nation’s longest-running TV programs.
“We were just trying to make it through those days together,” Kotb told “People.” “I didn’t think about whether it would be me,” she added