Hoda Kotb officially replaced Matt Lauer as co-anchor of the TODAY show just after the start of the new year, joining Savannah Guthrie. The show’s ratings have skyrocketed to beat its rival show, Good Morning America, but the 53-year-old veteran journalist still claimed that she is earning a lesser salary that than of her predecessor, according to The Huffington Post.
In an internal email announcing Kotb’s co-anchor role, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack wrote that Kotb and Guthrie have an “undeniable connection with each other and most importantly, with viewers,” The Huffington Post reports.
Kotb has been filling in for Lauer who was fired in November, leading the first two hours of the program. She and Guthrie have made history as the first time the show has had two female co-anchors.
Lauer was ousted for multiple extramarital affairs that allegedly constituted as sexual misconduct, according to People. One source told people that “there was most definitely more than one” affair and “they were never with anyone whom [Lauer] didn’t have significant seniority over.”
Guthrie announced the firing by reading a statement from Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News. Her announcement read:
“On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment,” Lack said in the statement. “While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.
“Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender.
“We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can. To that end, Noah and I will be meeting with as many of you as possible throughout the day today to answer your questions.”
Kotb sat with Guthrie as she delivered the news. She also called it a “tough morning” and stated that it was “hard to reconcile” with what they were hearing about the man they both know, who walks in the same building every single day. “We were both woken up with the news, kind of pre-dawn, and we’re trying to process it and trying to make sense of it — and it’ll take some time for that,” she said.
While NBC did take action and fired Lauer and officially give Kotb the role, People reports that Kotb claimed she is not earning the same salary. Kotb, who will also continue to co-host the show’s fourth-hour slot with Kathie Lee Gifford, allegedly said that “the whole money thing” for her isn’t so important.
“I’ve always been sort of — I know it sounds ridiculous that I’m going to say this — but I really have done jobs I liked for the job I liked because I never wanted to be happy every other Friday on pay day,” she told People. “Like, I didn’t want that to be the happy day. I wanted to feel good throughout. So no, I’m not making Matt Lauer money. Not even close.”
While she didn’t mention what her contracted salary is, Page Six reports that she and Guthrie are each making $7 million annually. Meanwhile, Lauer raked in $25 million every year for the 25 years he worked with the network. The network has not yet respond to Fairygodboss’ request for comment.
Of course, Kotb is not the only woman to make less than her male counterparts, whether or not they consider salary a determining factor. Catt Sadler also made headlines when she recently quit her “dream job” at E! News after claiming that she also earned less than her “similarly situated male co-host,” Jason Kennedy. Sadler wrote on her website that, as a single mother of two boys, the decision “required a lot of soul searching.”
“Information is power,” she wrote. “Or it should be. We are living in a new era. The gender pay gap is shrinking, although admittedly we have a long way to go. And well, I learned this first hand. My team and I asked for what I know I deserve and were denied repeatedly.”
She also urged women to know their worth, noting that she has two decades of experience in broadcasting and started at the network at the same time as Kennedy. For that reason, she wrote that she couldn’t “operate with integrity” if E! wasn’t willing to pay her the same — or even close.
“How can I accept an offer that shows they do not value my contributions and paralleled dedication all these years?” she asked. “How can I not echo the actions of my heroes and stand for what is right no matter what the cost? How can I remain silent when my rights under the law have been violated?”
Thanks to ample research, we know that, as much as we tell women to know their worth and “lean in,” it’s really bias that holds them back. We know this because Harvard recently made 100 men and women wear sensors to work to determine if women acted differently than men in the workplace, as opposed to the previous research that’s been done to gauge the inherent differences in men and women. Their goal was to figure out whether men and women conducted themselves differently, talked to different people or spent more time performing different tasks. The result: They didn’t.
“Our analysis suggests that the difference in promotion rates between men and women in this company was due not to their behavior but to how they were treated,” the researchers reported. “This indicates that arguments about changing women’s behavior — to ‘lean-in,’ for example — might miss the bigger picture: Gender inequality is due to bias, not differences in behavior.”
Just before the start of 2018, Fairygodboss asked experts to share their workplace predictions for women in the new year. Many of them said “demanded respect,” “the recognition of women’s rights,” “negotiation power for women” and more. None of them believed that there’d be equal pay just yet and, if Kotb’s situation is any reflection of what’s to come, we can’t say were surprised.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.