Some people can be very particular about their morning routines. Waking up, making coffee, turning on a familiar morning show with a familiar face to give you that morning’s headlines are all essential steps to starting the day on the right foot. So when something disrupts that routine, it can feel like a tragedy. And those who are used to spending their mornings with Hoda Kotb on Today are demanding answers for her absence.
Kotb was last seen live on air on Friday, February 17 (her Monday, February 20 appearance was pre-taped because of President’s Day), and her sign-off that day wasn’t out of the ordinary. All signs pointed to her returning to her usual posts alongside Savannah Guthrie in the main show and Jenna Bush Hager in the show’s fourth hour. But she hasn’t been seen on camera since, and her co-hosts haven’t offered any explanation.
Things have gone dark over at her podcast as well — Making Space with Hota Kotb typically releases episodes weekly but hasn’t done so since February 20. But there are still signs of life over at Kotb’s Instagram page, where she’s been consistently posting a series of inspirational quotes. While the sentiments feel very on brand for Kotb, this run of posts is out of the ordinary from her typical pattern. Is it a clue?
An early theory explaining Kotb’s absence was that she was just on a well-deserved vacation. But Today anchors’ vacations don’t usually last more than a week without explanation. Maybe her vacation unexpectedly lasted longer than usual when she met a hunk on the beach and decided to run away with him (and her daughters). Kotb was in a very public relationship with Joel Schiffman for eight years, and had a very public break-up with him last January. She’s since made it clear that she’s ready for future loves — maybe the future is now.
It’s possible that Kotb just wanted a break from her co-host Guthrie, with whom she’s supposedly been feuding for the last year. Of course, both have publicly denied any beef between them, but isn’t that exactly what someone in the middle of a feud would say? Taking the high road as a way to anger your opponent is feuding 101. Rumors of a “diva-like” feud started back in August 2022 when Guthrie overslept and missed the opening of Today. Some unnamed “TV insiders” went straight to Page Six to declare it a power move on Guthrie’s part so she could show everyone at NBC News who’s boss. Kotb’s ongoing absence could be her doing just the same, as if she’s saying, “Just try to keep doing the show without me, I dare you.”
It’s not unreasonable to think that Kotb may just be ready to call it quits. She’s been on Today for 25 years. That’s a lot of time to be in any one job, let alone one that requires you to wake up before sunrise and immerse yourself in everything going on with the world. Kotb is no stranger to getting emotional on camera when reporting on something particularly heartbreaking, and that must take a toll on a person. It could be that she’s just burnt out and needs to step away.
There are other more plausible explanations, too. She could be dealing with an illness, want to spend more time with her daughters, or just keeps sleeping through her alarm as Guthrie once did. But until she or the show clears things up, let’s just imagine Kotb having the time of her life sipping on a giant mojito, watching her kids play on the beach with the hottest man alive by her side.
Update (Wednesday, March 1 at 10:30 AM ET): Today anchor Craig Melvin shed some light on Kotb's absence during Wednesday's broadcast, saying, “We can tell you, Hoda’s OK. She’s got a family health matter she’s been dealing with.”
There's still no word on when she'll return to the show.
Today airs weekdays at 7:00 AM ET on NBC. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R.
TOPICS: Hoda Kotb, NBC, Today, Jenna Bush Hager, Savannah Guthrie