Longhorn alumna Jenna Bush Hager to co-host fourth hour of TODAY Show

Savana Dunning

On the TODAY Show last Tuesday, fourth hour co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb slid a glass of Pinot Grigio to UT alumna Jenna Bush Hager, naming her the new permanent co-host of the program to replace Gifford in April.

“Here at NBC and around the country, Jenna is beloved,” Kotb said on the show.

NBC’s fourth hour block of TODAY, hosted by Gifford and Kotb since 2008, is a separate segment from NBC’s morning news, where the hosts drink alcohol and discuss topics geared toward female viewers. Gifford, best known for co-hosting Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, announced her leave from TODAY in December to pursue other projects. 

Hager, daughter of former U.S. President George W. Bush, joined TODAY in 2009 as a correspondent following a career which included helping with her father’s 2004 campaign, working with UNICEF and writing four books. Eventually, Hager began filling in for Gifford and Kotb when the hosts were out on vacation.

“It feels humbling and I can’t believe it,” Hager said on the show after the announcement.


Hager studied English literature and creative writing at UT from 2000 to 2004, during the first four years of her father’s presidency.

“I was a Texas Longhorn fan for my entire life,” Hager said in an interview with NBC’s College Game Plan in 2017. “I always dreamed of going to Texas, so it felt natural.”

Hager said her father responded to her promotion with pride.

“My dad just wrote me three words which made me weep which said ‘Very proud dad,’” Hager said on the show. “Which I’m like, ‘What are you proud about? I’m just drinking wine in the morning.’”