Hoda Kotb returns to ‘Today’
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The March 6 show opened with co-anchor Savannah Guthrie welcoming Kotb back after her absence.
“… Hoda it is nice to have you right back where you belong …,” said Guthrie.
She and Kotb then explained that Kotb had been out dealing with an unspecified health issue with her youngest daughter, Hope, who is 3.
Kotb explained Hope had been in the hospital for a little over a week and even spent time in the ICU, though she did not indicate what landed her in that condition. She also mentioned that Hope had returned home from the hospital, which was the day she was “waiting” for to make her return to “Today.”
“You know what I realized, too, Savannah? When your child is ill, the amount of gratitude you can have for people who helped you out. I’m grateful for the doctors at Weill Cornell (Medicine) who were amazing and the nurses and I’m grateful to my family, and I’m grateful to friends like you who were there every single day. So I want to say thank you for that. I love you,” said Kotb on-air before she and Guthrie transitioned to the top news of the day.
The pair held hands and Guthrie replied by saying “I love you too.”
Kotb was last seen on live TV Feb. 17, 2023, though a pre-taped President’s Day edition of “Today with Hoda and Jenna” aired Feb. 20, 2023.
NBC, Kotb and other “Today” personalities remained silent on why Kotb was out until March 1, 2023 when they revealed Kotb was out “dealing with a family health matter.”
Meanwhile, Guthrie tested positive for COVID-19 in the middle of Feb. 28, 2023’s show, forcing her to leave the studio.
Although it’s not immediately clear what NBC’s policies are about COVID-19 testing, many organizations are allowing people to return after five days out assuming they are testing negative or not exhibiting symptoms. March 6 would have been just five days after the Guthrie first tested positive (with Feb. 28 being “day 0”).
Kotb’s absence was noticed by viewers, leading to speculation that she was somehow involved in a dispute with NBC. There have been unconfirmed reports in recent months that she and Guthrie hadn’t been getting along and that NBC was mulling a talent shakeup, including possibly sending Guthrie to “Meet the Press.”
None of that has materialized, however, and Guthrie and Kotb appeared to put on a united front on March 6’s show.
By Feb. 28, 2023, Kotb’s absence was generating more buzz — which likely led NBC and Kotb to decide to announce the limited information about her absence.