Fans of the Today Show and its fourth hour starring Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford have been wondering who would step in to replace Gifford since she announced her retirement, and now, the wait is over. After much speculation, Jenna Bush Hager has officially been named the permanent co-host to sit alongside Kotb for the well-loved, hour-long segment.
As The Inquisitr previously shared, Hager was the likely candidate for the highly-coveted position, which was announced following Gifford’s emotional reveal in December that she would be stepping down from the show. Having stepped in for several segments since 2009 – starting with her fill-in role in the “Orange Room” during one of Carson Daly’s absences – the fan-favorite anchor joined Kotb while Gifford took time out in Scotland to work on her film Love Me To Death. Folks went wild for the on-screen chemistry between Hager and Kotb.
“It feels humbling and I can’t believe it,” Hager said, when the exciting announcement was shared on-air.
Hager also revealed that she reached out to her dad, former president George W. Bush, and the Today host teared up when she shared that her father was so proud of his daughter.
“Which I’m like, what is there to be proud about? I’m just drinking wine in the morning,” she joked.
Since starting her position as a fill-in anchor, Hager has interviewed some major names in the news, including Michelle Obama, and touched fans across the country with her stories of her beloved grandparents, the late George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. She’s also brought joy to viewers with her tales of her relationship with her parents, husband, children, and twin sister Barbara.
NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim told the staff of the morning show that Hager’s compassion, curiosity, and “Texas-sized humor” made her a great fit for the position. Though they are saddened by Gifford’s departure, he feels confident that fans of the show will be thrilled at the new changes that Hager will bring.
Gifford, Kotb, and Hager sat around their signature high-top table with crisp-looking glasses in front of them, and Hager gushed about how humbled she has been by Gifford’s kindness toward her, and that she sees her as a role model. She also expressed her hopes to emulate some of the grace that Gifford has brought to the show.
“You keep trusting your instincts and you’re going to sit next to the best person in the whole world because she has your back because she has your heart. It’s going to be fun. You guys are going to have a ball,” Gifford returned to the beaming, new co-host.