Co-host Savannah Guthrie says that ‘This has to be the most popular decision NBC News have ever made and I’m so thrilled.’
The morning show boys club is collapsing.
Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose were both fired recently for alleged sexual misconduct, but their shows will go on thanks to their female co-anchors.
On Tuesday, “Today” named Hoda Kotb the official co-anchor of the morning news show’s first two hours with Savannah Guthrie, just a little more than a month after Lauer was suddenly canned.
“I’m pinching myself,” said Kotb on the air. She has been serving as interim co-anchor with Guthrie since Lauer was let go, and will also continue to co-host “Today’s” fourth hour with Kathie Lee Gifford.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 2, 2018
“It’s 2018 and we are kicking off the year right because Hoda is officially the co-anchor of Today,” Guthrie said on the air Tuesday morning. “This has to be the most popular decision NBC News have ever made and I’m so thrilled.”
That’s a much rosier announcement than Guthrie was forced to make last November, when she she had to handle the fallout of Lauer’s axing in real time on live TV – as did Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell on “CBS This Morning” the week before, when Rose was also terminated for inappropriate behavior.
WATCH: Here are TODAY's headlines on this Wednesday morning pic.twitter.com/opzA3IcYmP
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 29, 2017
And these women have responded with personal yet professional deliveries that don’t sugarcoat the fact that their colleagues — all male, including NBC’s Billy Bush, “Today” producer Matt Zimmermann, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, Rose and Lauer this year alone — have been canned for reports of mistreating other women.
Last month, PBS announced that CNN International journalist Christiane Amanpour’s program “Amanpour” will replace Rose’s 11:30 p.m. show for the time being. “Featuring conversations with global leaders and decision makers on the issues affecting the world today, ‘Amanpour on PBS’ adds to the long tradition of public affairs programming that has been a hallmark of public media for decades,” PBS CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement.
These women have always been capable journalists, and it’s certainly not the first time females have been center stage on the news. (See: Lori Stokes and Rosanna Scotto anchoring “Good Day New York” on Fox, or Hoda and Kathie Lee helming the “Today” show’s successful fourth hour. The late Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff became the first all-female evening news anchor team on network TV with the “PBS Newshour” in 2013.) But veteran television columnist and former New York Daily News critic David Hinckley noted that broadcast news has long been a “dismal” landscape for women.
“It’s been an area that’s ‘no girls allowed’ – even extending into soft news – because of the cliched, conventional thinking from the people who make decisions [at networks] that you need men there: Men are more authoritative; people believe men more; men aren’t a distraction and women aren’t quite serious enough to do news,” Hinckley told Moneyish.
In fact, former “Today” co-host Ann Curry’s 2012 firing was widely blamed on Lauer, with a New York Times Magazine report likening the set to a “boys club.” And even before the firing, news outlets were already investigating Lauer; NBC News chairman Andy Lack’s statement on the firing noted NBC had “reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
Lauer responded to the allegations in a statement: “To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry,” he said. “Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.”
“These issues of sexual misconduct have been present in many industries for years,” Marc Berman, the editor-in-chief of Programming Insider, told Moneyish.
There are signs that the tide is turning. “There has definitely been progress now that we have seen women in these key, high visibility positions for a while, and it’s clear viewers aren’t saying, ‘Don’t let Norah O’Donnell or Savannah Guthrie tell me about the North Korea missile strike!’” said Hinckley. “This doesn’t bother viewers nearly as much as it has bothered the industry.”
And now the reckoning of male coworkers’ alleged bad behavior has given these female anchors an opportunity to shine.
“They ultimately sent a message out that said, we don’t need a man to man the reigns at this newscast. We can do this without him,” said Berman. “It’s a week later, and I don’t see any problem with ‘CBS This Morning’ without Charlie Rose.
“And the way Gayle and Norah handled it was A-plus,” he added. Guthrie and Kotb managed the difficult situation the same way. “It was human. It was personal. It was professional. And it sent a message out to the masses that women can handle this. And yes, we’re starting to see more female anchor teams.”
Hinckley noted that this doesn’t mean news shows will do a 180 and roll out women-only anchor line-ups moving forward, but it opens the door to shaking up the familiar format that has relied on a man anchoring the male/female team.
“I’m sure the perception somewhere in the industry, and maybe outside of it, is that Charlie is really the main guy, or Matt is really the main guy, and the other anchors are satellites revolving around him,” said Hinckley. “And now that women are becoming more prominent on these shows, it’s making it very clear – as it should have been already – that women are just as qualified, just as competent, and just as able to deliver what you watch a news show to see.”
This story was originally published on Nov. 30, 2017, and has been updated with the Kotb announcement.
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