Hoda Kotb was named the permanent co-anchor of NBC‘s Today Tuesday morning, Jan. 2, 2018, alongside Savannah Guthrie.
The decision was not much of a surprise given that Kotb had been co-headlining the morning news show since Matt Lauer was fired over sexual harassment allegations in November.
The announcement, though expected by many, was still well-received. “This has to be the most popular decision that NBC News has ever made,” Guthrie told viewers.
Kotb, 53, was super happy about the promotion. “I am pinching myself,” said a smiling Kotb. “I think we should send some medics to Alexandria, Virginia, where my mom has likely fainted after hearing the open of that show.”
Perhaps Kotb was elated for her new position because her promotion represents another victory for Black female anchors, who have become a staple at NBC. Kotb has been a familiar face on NBC since she initially joined the network in 1998 as a Dateline correspondent. She has been part of the lives of Today viewers with having co-hosted the show’s fourth hour with Kathie Lee Gifford since 2008. She stepped up to Lauer’s seat a few weeks ago, having helped with boosting Today ratings, USA Today reported. Today viewership shot up from 4.2 million to 5.7 million without a 24-hour period in early December, the Nielsen company said.
Kotb has joined the ranks of other successful Black women anchors such as Tamron Hall and Mara Schiavocampo as part of the network’s legacy.
Hall, 46, came to NBC’s rescue in 2007 and joined “Today” as a co-host in 2014, according to the New York Daily News. She achieved a decade of notable work with NBC before news of her abrupt departure from the network spread in February as a way to make room for a program hosted by former Fox News host Megyn Kelly. However, the move wasn’t a great one for NBC as Kelly’s ratings drastically slumped in the wake of Hall’s departure.
Schiavocampo, 38, an Emmy-winning journalist, was an NBC News and MSNBC anchor. She earned spots and filed reports on the network’s Today, Nightly News, Weekend Nightly News and Weekend Today, Rolling Out reported, before moving to ABC News in 2014.
Considering the successful track records of Kotb, Hall and Schiavocampo, Black women have left an indelible mark on NBC. Many viewers may even say that these three women, along with other anchors of color, have helped to save the network from low ratings, irrelevancy and more throughout the years.
The picture of Black journalists nationally is a bit more disappointing from what has happened at NBC. Minority journalists comprised 16.6 percent of the workforce in U.S. newsrooms, according to those journalists who responded to the Newsroom Employment Diversity 2017 Survey released in October. 13.4 percent of newsroom leaders were minorities in 2017, compared to 13 percent in 2016. Kotb’s progress at NBC still gives hope that more Black journalists will make their way as successful anchors despite the survey’s numbers.