Since 2007, Kotb has filled Today’s fourth-hour spot with Kathie Lee Gifford, sipping wine and covering hot topics. According to NBC, she’ll continue in that role, despite moving to the show’s first two-hour slot.
“It’s 2018, and we are kicking off the year right because Hoda is officially the co-anchor of Today,” Guthrie said Tuesday. “This has to be the most popular decision NBC News have ever made, and I’m so thrilled.”
She said to Kotb, “You are a partner and a friend and a sister, and I am so happy to be doing this.”
Twitter celebrated the news.
— Hoda Kotb (@hodakotb) January 2, 2018
With Hoda Kotb now confirmed as Matt Lasuer’s replacement on the Today show, this is the second time a talented person of color got a top job at NBC News after scandal forced out the white, male star. (Lester Holt taking over for Brian Williams was the first).
— Eric Deggans at NPR (@Deggans) January 2, 2018
I was hoping 4 this! It's long overdue 2 hv an all female morning news team! Congrats @hodakotb! The revolution IS being televised!! @CBSThisMorning u got next! @GayleKing & @NorahODonnell can hold it down on their own! #thereckoning #TheFutureIsFemale #todayshow https://t.co/YHsR8Ko0o8
— Renel Brooks-Moon (@RenelSFVoyce) January 2, 2018
I woke up to great news this morning. Hoda Kotb was promoted to Today Show Anchor! Much deserved @hodakotb #SavannahHodaTODAY
You are one of the most positive people in the public eye and always put a smile on my face! Congratulations!
— Kathy Dillin (@katgrl0917) January 2, 2018
In November, Lauer — who had hosted Today for two decades — was fired by NBC after a female employee accused him of “inappropriate behavior” at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Following that, a handful of women stepped forward with allegations that Lauer had given a sex toy to an employee, exposed himself to another, and intimidated and harassed others.
Kotb and Guthrie will be the first female duo to anchor Today, making history alongside ABC News’s Diane Sawyer and Robyn Roberts, who served as Good Morning America co-anchors from 2006 to 2009.
The news follows the launch of Time’s Up, a new anti-harassment initiative led by 300 women in Hollywood, including Shonda Rhimes and Reese Witherspoon. The project offers a $13 million legal defense fund to help less-privileged women, legislation to punish companies that allow harassment to persist, and a call to hire more women in positions of power. The project also encourages celebrities to wear black clothing to the Golden Globes on Jan. 7 to show solidarity with female harassment victims.
“It’s very hard for us to speak righteously about the rest of anything if we haven’t cleaned our own house,” Rhimes told the New York Times Monday. “If this group of women can’t fight for a model for other women who don’t have as much power and privilege, then who can?”
Time’s Up was inspired by #MeToo, a decade-old movement launched by Harlem-based activist Tarana Burke for women of color to fight sexual abuse. The hashtag circulated in October when Alyssa Milano tweeted that victims respond “Me too” to illustrate the scope of the epidemic, resulting in the professional downfalls of Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, and Louis CK, and more.
Said Guthrie about Kotb’s promotion: “This has to be the most popular decision NBC News have ever made.” She also told People, “We’re grateful to NBC for not having some old-fashioned notion about what should be. I think they looked at it and said, ‘Why would you change this? This is working; it feels good.’”
She was likely referring to the classic morning-show model of male and female co-anchors, which strived to present a gender-balanced viewpoint and appeal to a broad “family-oriented” audience. Examples: Live‘s Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford (Gifford was later replaced by Kelly Ripa), Today‘s Matt Lauer and Katie Couric (and later Ann Curry), and Good Morning America‘s Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer.
But with families changing from two-parent households to ones of varying sizes, ethnicities, and gender roles, per recent data by the Pew Research Center, as well as a surge in ratings following Lauer’s dismissal and news of Catt Sandler leaving her role as E! host over a pay disparity with her male co-host, Kotb’s new role feels both relevant and necessary.
“From a business standpoint, Hoda Kotb’s promotion makes sense given her popularity among viewers,” Sandra Shullman, a psychologist who specializes in harassment and hostile work environments, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “However, the network is also making a very strong statement about its support for women.”
Margaret L. Signorella, a professor of psychology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Pennsylvania State University, also tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “Very few women — and in particular, women of color — have prominent roles in major news organizations, and studies have shown negative bias against women who read the news.”
Signorella adds, “Many of the abuses that have been reported are in part abuses of power. So whether Hoda Kotb’s promotion signals a significant or token change still needs to be proven.”
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