Jenna Bush Hager Describes ‘Empowering’ & ‘Weird’ Return to ‘Today’ With Hoda Kotb

Today Show host Hoda Kotb (L) and Today Show correspondent Jenna Bush Hager attend the cook-off hosted by People's "Great Ideas" food truck on NBC's Today Show on June 25, 2014 in New York City.
Larry Busacca / Getty Images

Jenna Bush Hager reunited with Hoda Kotb on Today with Hoda & Jenna in person for the first time in more than four months on Monday. Hager had been working on the show from home because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I left my kids for the first time in four months, which I just can’t even believe because we were still working. But for all of those people that are watching right now that are working from home, you know there’s this relief too. To go back to a place that you love. To be back with people that you can have conversations with other than just logistics,” Hager said in a video posted to the show’s official Twitter account. “It feels empowering, and it also feels kind of weird.”

Hager went on to describe how she found a cup of coffee in her dressing from her last day at the studio, which was March 11. She made it clear that she hadn’t left that day believing she wouldn’t be back for months. The co-hosts shared a tearful but socially distanced reunion — a situation that was made more poignant when the co-hosts shared some of their greatest reunion clips, which notably included lots of hugging.

“Oh, remember what it was like to hug someone,” said Hager with a small laugh.

“That’s all I could see. Hugs. Hugging,” replied Kotb.

While Hager joked she and Kotb had reunited 1,000 times, she admitted that today’s reunion with her co-host felt pretty good in spite of the increased physical distance between them. Kotb let Hager know that clothing racks had taken over her dressing room while she wasn’t there, but the co-host ensured her that most of them were removed before she arrived back in the studio.

Returning to work wasn’t the only big step that Hager took recently. She shared pictures of her three children with former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush. The visit was the first time she’d seen her parents in about eight months. The whole family got COVID-19 tests to ensure they did not have the virus before the visit. The former First Daughter said that her parents had probably only seen her youngest son Henry Harold, “Hal,” once since he was born almost a year ago. Her daughters, Mila and Poppy, were thrilled to see their grandparents too. Pictures of the president and first lady with their grandchildren popped up on the screen while Hager discussed the visit.

Though the spacing is different, it looks like things are returning to some semblance of a new normal for the talk show now that Hager and Kotb are back in the studio together. There still isn’t an audience present, but they did have a big friend fan wall as a way to include viewers.