Today show stars Jenna Bush Hager and Savannah Guthrie have revealed how they came together to ‘support’ their friend and co-anchor Hoda Kotb during her unexpected absence from the morning program.
Hoda, 58, returned to the NBC show on Monday and revealed that her three-year-old daughter, Hope Catherine, spent several days in the ICU battling a ‘health issue,’ which led to the star taking two weeks off from her job.
Reflecting on her co-host’s lengthy absence, Jenna revealed the surprising impact of not having her close friend by her side for that period of time.
Speaking to DailyMail.com at a party on Thursday to celebrate four years of her Today book club, Read With Jenna, the 41-year-old explained: ‘I know how much I adore her, I already knew it every day. But when someone is not at work unexpectedly for a period of time, you realize how important they are to you.
Today show stars Jenna Bush Hager and Savannah Guthrie have opened up about coming together to ‘support’ their friend and co-anchor Hoda Kotb
Hoda (pictured with her daughters Hope and Haley) was absent from work after her youngest child spent over a week in the ICU battling a ‘health issue’
‘And I have three little babes just like her, so my heart completely empathizes with her. Hoda taking that time off shows how lucky we are that we work in a place where we can take that time off work. Also, I’m so happy she heard how beloved she is.’
She continued: ‘People missed her because she is loved, I witnessed the amazing amount of well wishes she received from viewers who love our show. If I made it clear that while I missed her, so did everybody else who watches.’
Hoda’s return to the morning show came more than two weeks after her last appearance in the studio – an absence that sparked serious concern among viewers until her co-host, Craig Melvin, revealed that she had been dealing with a ‘family health matter.’
Hoda, who is also mother to six-year-old daughter Haley Joy, first revealed that she had adopted Hope back in April 2019.
Besides getting support from her coworkers, Hoda also received an outpouring of well-wishes from fans. Taking to Instagram on Tuesday, she wrote: ‘Thank you… for all of your beautiful words and prayers. I have read them all. You have no idea how much it means to me and my family. I am so profoundly touched.’
Meanwhile fellow broadcaster Savannah, 51, shared similar sentiments as Jenna about how they came together to support their friend as she stated: ‘As a team, we all lift each other up and that’s the way it should be.
‘We are working these crazy hours that can be high stress and also high fun. We have a special bond and it shows in times like this.
She continued: ‘I love our show and NBC because there is never a question about being off work for family. It’s always been, “How can we support you? Just take all the time you need.”‘
Indeed, Savannah’s presence at the celebration of Read With Jenna further highlighted the way in which the Today co-anchors show support for each other in all aspects of life.
Hoda’s absence that sparked serious concern among viewers, while Jenna admitted that the surprise absence made her ‘realize how important’ having Hoda around was to her
Fellow broadcaster Savannah, 51, shared similar sentiments as Jenna as she stated: ‘As a team, we all lift each other up and that’s the way it should be.
Besides getting support from her coworkers, Hoda also received an outpouring of well-wishes from fans, whom she thanked on social media
Jenna revealed her appreciation for the support from Savannah and fellow NBC stars Sheinelle Jones and Dylan Dreyer at the event as she continued: ‘The most important thing to me is that I get to work at a place that I love, and that I am blessed to do it with women who all support each other.
‘The ladies came here tonight for me, at a time when they could be putting their kids to bed.’
Elsewhere her twin sister, Barbara Bush, was also in attendance on the night and told DailyMail.com: ‘I’m very proud of my sister’.
In fact, Barbara was moved to tears as she watched her sister give a heartfelt speech in which she thanked her twin for sharing her love of books throughout their lives.
Thursday saw Jenna throw a party to celebrate four years of her Today book club, Read With Jenna
Looking back at the growth of her book club, Jenna told DailyMail.com: ‘The success of this club is beyond my wildest dreams. I have loved reading since I was a little girl and the fact that I get to be surrounded by authors that admire means everything.
‘Our mission is to debut diverse authors, the fact that so many of these books have hit the NYT bestseller list means they have changed minds and opened minds.’
She continued: ‘The fact people are falling in love with stories from all different perspectives and from all walks of life (which we can see from the sales) proves that people want this. They want to pull up chairs to the table and be seated together. I hope for our future because of this.’
At present, 37 of Hager’s selections have become New York Times bestsellers. The star has now taken things to a new level after signing her first production deal with Universal Studio Group where she will be developing and producing projects for television and movies.
So far, 28 RWJ stories have been optioned for TV and film, and the anchor revealed her hope that this would ‘help to double the audiences that theses stories are reaching.’