Hoda Kotb has officially replaced Matt Lauer as the co-host of NBC’s Today show, alongside Savannah Guthrie. This marks the first time the popular early morning program will be anchored by two women. In an interview with People, Kotb praised the pair’s easy dynamic: “When you click with someone, man, woman, it doesn’t matter. If it works, it works. We’re sort of like sisters, and everybody wants a sister.” The pair announced the decision on air this morning, with Guthrie calling it “the most popular decision NBC news has ever made.”
Lauer was famously ousted last November following allegations of sexual misconduct, including showing a female colleague his genitals, gifting a female colleague a sex toy, and having an affair with a young female staffer. Kotb, who joined NBC in 1998 as a correspondent for Dateline and co-anchors the Today show’s fourth hour alongside Kathie Lee Gifford, was quickly tapped to fill in for Lauer in the days and weeks following his dismissal.
“That morning was so hard, but Hoda and I were in it together,” Guthrie told People, referring to the November 29 announcement of Lauer’s unexpected departure. “We are family, and families do go through hard times, and when that happens in good families, you just get closer … It was such a shock to wake up one day and not have Matt, but it was the most natural and comforting thing in the world to have Hoda right there. No one wanted that to stop.”
Following Lauer’s firing, ratings for the program actually increased in both total viewers and for adults 25-54 and 18-49, besting competitor Good Morning America‘s tallies. During a cultural moment in which famous and powerful men were being outed for ongoing sexual misconduct almost daily, the ratings seemed to prove to many that these men were indeed disposable.
According to People, Kotb was officially offered the position by network execs just before the holidays and will continue hosting the show’s ten o’clock segment alongside Gifford for the time being.