A Coptic-American woman is the new permanent co-host of Today, the influential morning news program rocked in November by revelations about former co-host Matt Lauer.
Hoda Kotb has been acting as interim co-host, with Savannah Guthrie, since then. But on January 2, 2018, NBC made her position permanent, thus making the combo of Kotb and Guthrie the first all female anchor duo in the history of the program.
Today, and morning news programs in the U.S. generally, have long employed what critics call the “Mom and Dad” format, with one cost-host of each sex. That format got its start in the 1970s with the teaming up of Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs. This marks an important break from that pattern.
Guthrie said that she and Kotb are “grateful to NBC for not having some old fashioned notion about what should be.” They celebrated in the manner of the second decade of this millennium: with selfies.
Left Wing View
As noted in this column a month ago, the leftists’ response to Lauer’s departure was generally to distance themselves from Lauer, and indeed much of it focused on his real or alleged hostility to the Presidential campaign of Secretary Clinton in 2016.
Emily Smith, writing on Page Six, says that Kotb is “still being paid around $18 million less per year than her disgraced male predecessor.” Smith also quotes the following explanation, from an unnamed insider, “Matt’s salary reflected the long time he was on the show – 25 years. If things go well, Hoda could ask for more next time she re-ups her contract.”
Right Wing View
“Doc holiday” tweets that the hiring of Kotb is a good choice and hopes that “she will not be so obviously left leaning and conservative heating as Matt.”
But the conservative News Busters site says, “there’s good reason for conservative viewers to be concerned over the liberal bias Kotb has brought to the broadcast over the years.”
News Busters is particularly exercised about an interview Guthrie and Kotb conducted together in 2015 of then Presidential candidate Rand Paul’s wife Kelley. Kotb asked Mrs Paul whether she coaches Rep. Paul on how to interact with women journalists, “Did you say, ‘Okay honey, here are some ABCs, let’s go through them?”
On twitter, Nicolas Gonzalez writes, “This might seem impolitic but I don’t think NBC should pay Hoda Kotb Matt Lauer’s $25 million salary.” He wasn’t necessarily thinking in ideological terms, though. He added, “I don’t think any news organization should pay amyone that much when there are so many under/unemployed journalists out there.”
In broader terms, the U.,S. Census Bureau says that women earn 80% of what men do. But in the younger age cohort, 25 to 34, the number is 90%.
The comedian Stephen Colbert twitted, “Having trouble following today’s news, but I’m excited to congratulate Hoda Kotb on taking over for Senator Orrin Hatch!”
Much of the response to the announcement fails to sort itself into left/right terms.This is true for example, of Kotb’s own observation about a congratulatory text she says she received from her predecessor. Lauer “was sweet this morning … he said some nice words.”
That got a lot of attention on twitter. Social*Fly said, “Not sure this is something Hoda should have shared … not her place to normalize him or his behavior.”
“Norma,” likewise, tweeted, “Can we just not invoke his name on the air?”