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Hoda Kotb is not being "fired" from the "Today" show, despite a new tabloid cover story. This report, which comes just months after the veteran journalist was promoted to co-anchor of the 7 a.m. hour, is entirely off-base. Gossip Cop can debunk it.

The new cover of the National Enquirer exclaims, "Today Show In Turmoil Again: Hoda Fired!" It was designed to make readers think Kotb was already canned, but this is really a bait-and-switch. The article inside the issue is not about the anchor already being dismissed, but contends her "days are numbered." It's specifically alleged that NBC executives are "so spooked by the show's slumping ratings they're secretly drawing up plans to sack" her. A so-called "network snitch" is quoted as saying, "It's absolute panic now at NBC. The brass realize elevating Hoda was a big mistake that needs to be fixed."

Kotb was given the gig after Matt Lauer was fired over sexual misconduct claims. The magazine acknowledges that once she teamed up with Savannah Guthrie, who was already at the anchor desk, the morning show "roared into first place for seven consecutive weeks." But since "Today" has been "stuck in second place" to ABC's "GMA" again, there have been a "string of high-level hush-hush conferences among desperate execs seeking to stop the bleeding," maintains the outlet, which cites an alleged "source" as claiming, "Hoda was completely unaware that these back-channel meetings were even taking place."

Yet another unnamed and untraceable "source" asserts that Kotb is "not cutting it as a serious news anchor," giving executives further motivation to pull "the plug on the Hoda experiment." Strangely, the supermarket tabloid suggests she could be replaced by Carson Daly. This contention makes little sense, since "The Voice" host is not known as a "serious news anchor." Most outrageously, the publication contends "frantic honchos are even considering reinstating Matt." A purported "newsroom insider" maintains, "It's a long shot, but it's not out of the question."

Arguably, nothing is ever out of the question, but given that NBC was widely criticized for its handling of the investigation into Lauer's behavior, it is implausible to think they'd welcome him back into the fold. The magazine also does not acknowledge how much it is has invested in Kotb as of late. The network spent the money to send Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford to Italy just last month to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their 10 a.m. show. That same month, Kotb was in Windsor to prepare for the royal wedding, before she returned to cover the big event last weekend. And later this week, as announced on Twitter, Kotb will be in Los Angeles for the show's Memorial Day weekend celebrations.

It's illogical that the network would go to all this expense if the plan was to imminently give her the boot. And while the outlet places much emphasis on "slumping ratings," it fails to mention that "Today" just scored a major win over "GMA" last week, as reported by a number of trade publications. The show not only out-performed its competitor in the coveted adults 25-54 demo, as it usually does, but also in total viewers overall. This is not a program in crisis where the deck needs to be shuffled.

And Gossip Cop hears that it won't be. While our well-placed source at NBC could not talk on the record about personnel matters, our confidante dismissed this narrative about firing Kotb as untrue and "ridiculous." Indeed, that should be clear from what we noted above, as well as from the absurdity of alleging Lauer could be asked back to ignoring the most recent ratings and being oblivious to all the network has recently invested in Kotb. Lastly, Gossip Cop must also mention the tabloid's sister site, RadarOnline, wrongly claimed in the past that Guthrie would be axed so Katie Couric could make a "Today" return.

That was more than a year ago. Gossip Cop rightly busted that misguided claim when it came out, thanks to our NBC insiders, and time has proven our reporting was correct. It has also shown that the Enquirer, which shares some employees with its online sister publication, and its ilk don't have reliable insight into the morning show's staffing. That will become even more apparent when this purported firing of Kotb does not happen.

Our Verdict

Gossip Cop has determined this story is totally false.


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