Jenna Bush Hager has been part of the “Today” show’s morning family for eight years. The spirited 37-year-old daughter of 43rd president George W. and First Lady Laura Bush and sister to Barbara has been warming viewers over their morning toast with her unique brand of Texan honesty from the start. Initially, her focus was to highlight educational initiatives for children in the United States and across the globe. That purpose only grew as she became an author, frequently collaborating with Barbara, whom she calls “the real writer.”

In sharing more of her real-life experiences, including having her parents on the “Today” set and spilling lots of her childhood secrets, Jenna Bush Hager began to emerge more as a personality in her own right.

Advertisement
Advertisement

She especially reached into the hearts of millions of “Today” fans with her tales of the trials of young motherhood to daughters, “Mila” (Margaret Laura), who turns six next month, and Poppy, three.

As soon as Kathie Lee Gifford made her emotional announcement of her plan to leave “Today,” after she and Hoda Kotb celebrate their 11 years together in April, the media began to swirl with talk that Jenna Bush Hager would follow in taking her morning chair.

Jenna Bush Hager will take a seat beside Hoda Kotb on 'Today' after Kathie Lee Gifford's last day. [TODAY / YouTube screencap]
Jenna Bush Hager will take a seat beside Hoda Kotb on 'Today' after Kathie Lee Gifford's last day. [TODAY / YouTube screencap]

Gifford made it clear that the choice of her next morning partner would be completely left to Kotb, and the two made that clear to TMZ.

With five weeks to go in Gifford's love fest, playfully teased as Kathie Lee-Ving, the beloved sidekicks felt that the time was right to make their big announcement on February 26. It was made official that Jenna Bush Hager will have the seat next to Hoda Kotb on the week following Gifford’s farewell.

Bush Hager was christened with warm hugs and even got her own wine glass when she took the middle seat between the legendary ladies.

Advertisement

It seems like the fourth-hour is setting a course with a different style and personality, but the same feeling of real-life that has kept reeling in viewers for decades.

Impossible to repeat

Hoda Kotb has been reiterating that “every good and wonderful thing” that has come in her life has been sparked by the day she was chosen by Kathie Lee Gifford to host the fourth-hour romp. No one can compete with becoming a catalyst for finding a life partner or a beautiful adopted daughter, but the reception was nonetheless completely warm and heartfelt for the not-new kid on the block who has very big shoes in which to walk into morning TV history.

The utterly spontaneous, goofy-to-heartfelt chemistry between KLG and Kotb will also be irreplaceable. Gifford did show that she still had the perfect touch when she summoned down the tissue box from above (just a little behind her) to handle the joyfully weepy overload.

“Are you trying to make me weep?” Bush Hager inquired of Kotb, already relating that her father’s words of “very proud dad” had already provoked tears. She retorted, asking “Why are you proud?

Advertisement

I'm just drinking wine in the morning.”

“You are beloved,” reminded Gifford, and Jenna Bush Hager lovingly exclaimed “Nobody can take your Chardonnay,” meaning her legendary place. “That is too big for anybody,” agreed Kotb, but “Today’s” future is still bright. I also want to share that men should plan a trip to a wine bar.

“If I can use some of your grace...” Bush Hager extended to Gifford, also remarking on the veteran star’s “generosity with your time.” Gifford stressed that “when you stopped caring what people thought” viewers fell in love with Bush Hager’s authenticity and humor

Kathie Lee Gifford is equally generous with her spirit.

Advertisement

Jenna Bush Hager described how Gifford made the effort to teach her the preshow chant of “Have a great show!” Gifford reminded that Hoda Kotb “will always have your back because she's got your heart.

Motherhood together

Kotb did hint about announcements of “how the show will evolve” in the future. The “Today” co-anchor already has common ground with Jenna Bush Hager—both are moms of young, beautiful, energetic, and very independent daughters. Both working moms have been very honest about the rewards of motherhood, and also about the days when things don't “go pretty.

NBC News chief, Noah Oppenheim, praised in a statement that it was Bush Hager’s “curiosity” that came through in her stories, along with compassion. Her daughters keep life interesting. She recently shared how she came home to find both her girls naked, covered in makeup and other kitchen ingredients, and dancing with a disco ball. They had managed to lock their babysitter in a closet for 45 minutes.

Click to read more and watch the video