The Today Show introduced a new face to viewers this morning.
Actually, that's not true:
The Today Show introduced an old face to viewers this morning... in a new position.
Savanna Guthrie opened the first fresh show of 2018 by confirming what some in the industry have suspected for the past couple weeks:
Hoda Kotb is no longer a temporary co-anchor on Today; she's the permanent replacement for Matt Lauer, who was fired in late November due to numerous allegations of sexual misconduct.
Said Guthrie in making this announcement:
“Welcome to Today and we are kicking off the year right because Hoda is officially the co-anchor of Today, so let’s give her a round of applause...
“This has to be the most popular decision NBC News has ever made and I am so thrilled.”
It certainly is true that Kotb is a beloved member of this network's large family.
Consider what Kathie Lee Gifford told People Magazine of her long-time friend and colleague:
“I feel happy for her because she is having the greatest year of her life, and if she’s happy, I’m happy for her.
"What’s happening to her now is something she would have given anything for earlier on in her career...
“Everybody universally adores her. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She’s more loving and kind, so when these wonderful things started happening for this wonderful woman, we were thrilled for her.”
While it's not surprising that Gifford would comment on Kotb's promotion, the new full-time co-host revealed to Entertainment Tonight that someone unexpected contacted her with congratulations as well:
“I did hear from [Matt], yeah,” Kotb told ET, adding:
“He texted me and he said congratulations and some really nice words, and it meant the world when I saw the text pop up... it meant the world to see that.”
Lauer has been accused of some horrible actions, but Kotb admits she keeps in touch with the disgraced reporter.
"Matt is our good friend and continues to be, and I think for both of us, we’ve just been trying to navigate this time and honor our love and friendship with Matt, but also understand and try to learn more about these circumstances,” she explains.
“So, it’s complicated when you are surprised by revelations, but you still care deeply for somebody who’s a friend.
"I think for all of us, we’ve just been trying to navigate through that, with straightforwardness and honesty and integrity.”
Also speaking to Entertainment Tonight on the revamped setup, along with the man who prompted this change, Guthrie noted:
"This has been a really hard time for this show that we love and the people who put the show together - we care so much - and having Hoda right with me every second of the way has meant everything.
"And we kind of held onto each other, and then discovered along the way that there's a real partnership here, and so how wonderful that now it's permanent, we get to just do it every day."
Hoda has been with NBC since 1998.
She had been anchoring her own hour of Today with Gifford for several years, but will now get a chance to greet millions of people first thing every single morning.
We're very happy for her.