Television host Hoda Kotb has been named the new co-anchor of the NBC News Today show, replacing former co-host Matt Lauer several weeks after the longtime anchor was fired for inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Kotb will join Melbourne-born Savannah Guthrie during the first two hours of the popular US breakfast program, and become the first pair of women to host the show along with weatherman Al Roker and Orange Room host Carson Daly.
Hoda Kotb announced as Matt Lauer's replacement
The veteran news presenter is officially named the new co-anchor of the NBC News Today show, replacing disgraced former co-host Matt Lauer.
Kotb will also continue co-hosting the later 10am hour of Today with Kathie Lee Gifford.
"It's 2018 and we are kicking off the year right because Hoda is officially the co-anchor of Today," said Guthrie, 46, who announced the news during the program's opening moments.
Kotb, 53, quickly filled in as co-host when Lauer was fired on Nov. 28 after a female colleague complained to NBC officials about a pattern of inappropriate sexual behaviour that began while they were on assignment at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, according to the network.
At least two other women went to NBC with similar complaints against Lauer following the first allegation. None of the women has been publicly identified.
"Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I'm committed to beginning that effort," Lauer said after he was fired.
Kotb joined NBC News in 1998 as a correspondent and has co-hosted the fourth hour of Today with Gifford since 2008. She also hosts a program on Sirius XM satellite radio.
.@SavannahGuthrie announces @HodaKotb will be co-anchor of TODAY. #SavannahHodaTODAY pic.twitter.com/B64n2FmCwq— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 2, 2018
"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," NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said in an email to staff, according to Today.com.
#SavannahHodaTODAY was a top-trending topic on Twitter following the announcement as fans and NBC News colleagues congratulated the host on her new position.
Viewers and TV critics also praised NBC's decision to replace the disgraced Lauer with another female co-anchor, with Time describing the choice as a "revolutionary pick".
"Pairing Kotb with co-anchor Savannah Guthrie moves morning TV further away from the retro faux-husband-and-wife style pairs that have for so long defined the genre," wrote critic Daniel D'Addario.
“It could not happen to a sweeter, better, more beloved person.”-@KathieLGifford congratulates @HodaKotb pic.twitter.com/Iw4wmHbOAa— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 2, 2018
Hoda Kotb, who has filled in on "Today" since Matt Lauer was fired, is named permanent co-host. Congratts @hodakotb— Cyndi Lauper (@cyndilauper) January 2, 2018
Congrats @hodakotb Go Hoda Go. Of course @SavannahGuthrie is the best teammate you could have...always there for a friend.— Tamron Hall (@tamronhall) January 2, 2018
First female co-anchors of a major morning show! Good way to start 2018. #SavannahHodaTODAY https://t.co/RRWup9Cekp— Adrienne M. Penta (@AdriennePenta) January 2, 2018
Reuters, Fairfax Media