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Hoda Kotb says Jenna Bush Hager will 'bounce back' after star calls in sick to the Today Show

The Today with Hoda & Jenna star was not at work on Thursday

Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb
Hanna Fillingham
US Managing Editor
29 February 2024
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Hoda Kotb stepped out into the Today with Hoda & Jenna studios on Thursday morning with a familiar face - but it wasn't Jenna Bush Hager! 

Instead, Hoda sat next to Laura Jarrett, revealing the reason for Jenna's absence at the start of the show. 

The popular TV anchor explained: "Jenna is not here today, she's feeling a little under the weather, but she will bounce back as she does." 

Jenna Bush Hager was subbed by Laura Jarrett
Jenna Bush Hager was subbed by Laura Jarrett

She then turned to Laura, who was dressed in a bright pink blazer teamed with chic black pants, and said: "I've got Laura Jarrett, you guys probably know her as the co-anchor of Today." 

The mother-of-two went on to ask Laura how she was finding her time working on the Saturday show, having started the gig several months ago. 

Jenna Bush Hager was absent from Today due to illness © NBC
Jenna Bush Hager was absent from Today due to illness

"It's so much fun!" she exclaimed. "Peter [Alexander] and I are having a ball, but it's so much being here with you today on a Thursday!" 

After reflecting on the fact they share a makeup room together, and their close bond as a result, Hoda turned to the viewers at home to explain why today was a "big day". 

Savannah Guthrie with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager
Savannah Guthrie with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager

Discussing leap day, Hoda and Laura reflected on the earlier segment of Today, which had seen crowds of people in the plaza all with one thing in common - a leap year birthday. 

The show was as action-packed as ever, with guests including Amber Riley joining Hoda and Laura, to discuss her new film, Single Black Female 2: Simone's Revenge, as well as opening up about her late Glee co-star Naya Rivera, and how she helps to honor her memory. 

today with hoda and jenna© Getty Images
Jenna has been working on Today since 2019

Hoda has been working on the Fourth Hour of Today for many years, and has been working alongside Jenna since 2019, following former co-star Kathie Lee Gifford's retirement. 

Hoda and Jenna are great friends and recently chatted to HELLO! at Savannah Guthrie's book launch party, following the release of her book, Mostly What God Does, which sold out on the first day of its release - even breaking Amazon for several hours as a result of its popularity. 

The pair were both praised by Savannah for helping to encourage her with her writing, and they couldn't have been more proud of their friend. 

"The baby's here!" Hoda joked as they spoke to HELLO! about Savannah's book finally hitting the shelves. "We definitely tried to encourage her because it was really hard to write about something as personal as faith," Jenna added.

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