NBC announced Tuesday that Jenna Bush Hager will join Hoda Kotb as the permanent cohost of Today‘s fourth hour later in the year, replacing Kathie Lee Gifford, who previously revealed she will be stepping down from the show in April.
“It feels humbling and I can’t believe it,” Jenna said on the show Tuesday morning over a glass of wine — natch. “My dad just wrote me three words, which made me weep. He said, ‘Very proud dad.’ Which I’m like, what is there to be proud about? I’m just drinking wine in the morning!”
Bush Hager then turned her attention to Gifford, saying: “You have been such a role model and so generous with your time. … You are beloved here in so many ways and if I can use some of your grace and have a half of what you’ve done, my life will be a very happy one.”
Gifford in return offered words of congratulations. “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,” she said. “It’s going to be fun. You guys are going to have a ball.”
Bush Hager has been part of the Today show family since 2009 and has sat in as guest cohost on numerous occasions when Gifford or Kotb has been absent. “Jenna joined Today nearly 10 years ago and she quickly became a fixture in our family,” said NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim in an email to staffers. “Her compassion and curiosity come through in all of her stories, along with her Texas-sized sense of humor. Jenna instantly connects with everyone she meets, whether they are guests on our show or fans on the Plaza.
He continued: “While it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to Kathie Lee, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to make some changes at 10 a.m. This is just the first of many! The show is evolving, and we will have additional announcements to share with you in the coming months. In the meantime, please join me in wishing Jenna a big congratulations!”
The rest of the Today team quickly got on Twitter to share their excitement.