Hoda Kotb has been named a permanent co-anchor of the Today show alongside Savannah Guthrie following Matt Lauer’s firing amid sexual harassment allegations.
Lauer’s ouster in November left a major opening for the morning program, which Kotb filled temporarily until the announcement Tuesday made her position permanent.
“This has to be the most popular decision NBC News has ever made,” Guthrie said at the top of the broadcast.
NBC News chairman Andy Lack shared the news in a staff memo Tuesday morning. “Over the past several weeks, Hoda has seamlessly stepped into the co-anchor role alongside Savannah, and the two have quickly hit the ground running,” he wrote. “They have an undeniable connection with each other and most importantly, with viewers, a hallmark of Today.”
Guthrie and Kotb will co-anchor the 7-9 a.m. hours, along with Al Roker and Carson Daly. Kotb will also continue co-hosting the 10 a.m. hour with Kathie Lee Gifford, a role she has held since 2008.
NBC fired Lauer on Nov. 29 after receiving what Lack called a “detailed complaint” about “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
Hours later, Variety published the results of a two-month investigation focusing on three women who identified themselves as victims of sexual harassment by Lauer.
The women, who spoke anonymously for fear of professional repercussions, detailed how Lauer used his position of power over NBC employees who would be reticent to complain because of his prominent position in the company. According to the outlet, Lauer developed a pattern of inviting women late at night to his hotel room while covering the Olympics over the years, and to his secluded office within 30 Rockefeller Center.
Addie Collins Zinone, one of as many as eight accusers, came forward publicly, describing how a newly married Lauer seduced her into sexual encounters in his dressing room, a bathroom and his office when she was a 24-year-old production assistant.
Regarding the allegations, Lauer said in a statement following his ouster that “there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.”
“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” the statement continued. “To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.”
The question of who would replace Lauer, 60, the biggest star of morning television with a nearly 21-year run anchoring Today, swirled over the last month. However, viewers tuned in, bumping up ratings, and the NBC morning show beat ABC’s Good Morning America in the first week of December for the first time in three months, according to Nielsen.