TV star Savannah Guthrie put on a brave face as she co-hosted the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting in NYC on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Only 12 hours earlier, she had delivered the shocking news that her Today co-anchor Matt Lauer — who had been scheduled to appear alongside her on the holiday special — had been fired by NBC for inappropriate sexual conduct. “This is a sad morning,” she’d said tearfully. “We’re devastated and still processing all of this.”
Now that the dust has started to settle, Savannah, 45, and the Today show team are moving forward without Matt. “Savannah has been in the co-anchor’s seat for five years now,” an insider exclusively told Closer Weekly. “She’s grown into her role and knows how to soldier through.” She’s also relying on the support of her NBC co-workers, especially Hoda Kotb, 53, who sat beside her at the anchor desk when the story broke. “Hoda is a pro’s pro, and she’s helping Savannah keep her chin up,” a second insider revealed. “She’s telling her that while these are difficult days, they will eventually pass and better times are to come.”
Savannah and Hoda on the day of Matt’s firing. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
For now, Hoda will likely continue to occupy Matt’s old chair, but the network is considering its options as it ponders the future of its flagship news franchise, which rakes in huge profits from ad revenue. “This is one of the most crucial decisions the network has had to make in its history,” the first insider said. Names like Sunday Today host Willie Geist and former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams have been mentioned as possible long-term replacements for Matt, but much of the responsibility of keeping Today going strong will fall on Savannah’s shoulders. “The stress can be unbelievable, but Savannah is made of pretty sturdy stuff,” the first insider confessed. “She doesn’t wilt under pressure.”
Savannah helped shore up Today’s ratings after Ann Curry’s disastrously handled departure in 2012. As the broadcast faces another crisis, “she knows more than ever the staff is looking to her for leadership,” the second insider said. “She’s trying to be as big as the moment and really step up to the plate.” Yet behind the scenes, she’s still grappling with the sordid revelations about Matt, 59, whom she’d considered a close friend and professional partner. Despite the avalanche of sexual-misconduct scandals that have rocked the country, “she didn’t have a clue Matt was going to be the next to fall, and in such a swift, spectacular fashion,” the first insider told Closer. “She’s had to do a lot of thinking on her feet in an incredibly short time, as well as getting over the shock of not having Matt sit alongside her in the morning.”
The comforting presences of Hoda, Al Roker, 63, and Kathie Lee Gifford, 64, have helped cushion the blow. “The Today anchors are closer now than they’ve ever been,” the second insider said. “Mainly, they feel their sympathy should lie with Matt’s victims and not with Matt himself. This is a bed he made, and they fully realize that.” Even with all the work stress, Savannah finds solace at home with husband Mike Feldman, 49, daughter Vale, 3, and son Charley, who turns one on Wednesday, Dec. 8. As she has explained, “They’re always at the forefront of my mind.”
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