— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 2, 2018
Following Matt Lauer’s abrupt dismissal from Today in late November for sexual misconduct, NBC News faced a tough decision on finding an appropriate replacement on relatively short notice. Willie Geist and Craig Melvin were floated in the rumor mill as candidates, but in the end, executives made a bold decision with the New Year. Hoda Kotb, who hosted a later Today hour with Kathie Lee Gifford, has been promoted to co-anchor of the show’s early hours. In the above clip, Savannah Guthrie introduces her new right-hand woman.
Those in the studio applauded, and Guthrie described this as “the most popular decision that NBC News has ever made.” Indeed, Kotb is a beloved figure, and her presence will be warmly regarded (although perhaps not quite to the degree as an Ann Curry return would have been, yet Curry’s probably no longer interested). And while her co-anchor chemistry with Guthrie remains to be seen, the charismatic Kotb arrives without a whiff of scandal and boosts the Today anchor desk to a double dose of femininity.
In addition, she apparently has “quickly hit the ground running,” according to NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack in a statement. While joining Guthrie on Monday morning, Kotb revealed her enthusiasm. “I am pinching myself,” she said. “I think we should send some medics to Alexandria, Virginia, where my mom has likely fainted after hearing the open of that show.”
Meanwhile, Al Roker is thrilled at the news. Watch his reaction below.