Welcome to 2018, where bad men will no longer helm morning shows at major news networks, but where the women of color chosen to replace them will still be paid a fraction of their predecessors’ salaries.
So it seems with Hoda Kotb, the effervescent and charismatic co-anchor of the show Today. Kotb, who was called on to sub for Matt Lauer after allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse prompted NBC to fire him, was given the title of co-anchor permanently on Tuesday. The news was warmly received by her colleagues at NBC and fans of the show.
But according to the New York Post’s Page Six, Kotb will be earning about a third of what Lauer made. The outlet reports that Kotb’s annual salary will be around $7 million, on par with Today show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie.
Lauer earned between $20 million and $25 million each year between 2012 and 2017. Enough to cover the salaries of Guthrie, Kotb and an additional host.
Some industry experts say that this is a necessary deflation. From the Hollywood Reporter:
Lauer’s high salary stemmed from his star presence and decades of service for the highly lucrative morning show.
“This is a symptom of the correct economic decision to downsize the role and not throw millions and millions of dollars at it,” says independent news analyst and frequent THR contributor Andrew Tyndall, speculating that Kotb could make roughly $5 million a year in her new role.
“Correct economic decision” is certainly an interesting way of putting it. Kotb has been with NBC News for 20 years, and the Today show for 10. She has over-performed in her role, making the 10 o’clock hour she co-hosted with Kathie Lee Gifford so popular that, according to Variety, NBC for a time “offered repeats of it during overnight hours.”
Kotb’s presence proved pivotal in managing NBC’s self-inflicted crisis following Lauer’s departure. Kotb and Guthrie steered Today to its highest ratings of 2017, surpassing its main rival, ABC’s Good Morning America, for the first time in nearly a year.
Lauer’s “star presence,” it turns out, had actually been a black hole.
Ever the team player, Kotb has been doing some heavy lifting for the show since taking over for the alleged sexual predator who preceded her. Kotb will co-host the top of the Today show with Guthrie, from 7-9 a.m., and then return at 10 a.m. with Gifford. As Page Six reports, during that hour “break,” Kotb will record updates for the West Coast and other video before returning to the air.
Meanwhile, Megyn Kelly remains the most highly paid and most underwhelming host on NBC’s morning docket, commanding $20 million a year to make her guests uncomfortable as hell and pretend that neither she nor her former employer was racist.
It’s a shame that Kotb’s good news is being overshadowed by NBC (over-)correcting its poor economic decisions, but this is the reality many women of color face across various industries in the U.S.: Even when we land the dream job, the salary gap is still a nightmare.