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NBC fires star news anchor over sexual harassment charges, appoints woman to host ‘Today’ show

WASHINGTON: The US television channel NBC said Tuesday it had appointed a female anchor to replace shamed star Matt Lauer, who was accused of sexual misconduct, on its signature morning show “Today.”

The broadcaster named Hoda Kotb, who had been filling in for Lauer since he was sacked in November following a slew of allegations of sexual harassment, as the new anchor of the Today show alongside Savannah Guthrie, who had been Lauer’s co-host.

“This has to be the most popular decision that NBC News has ever made,” said Guthrie on her Twitter account after the news of Kotb’s permanent appointment was announced.

Kotb, a 53-year-old Egyptian-American, is an award-winning journalist who joined NBC in 1998 as a correspondent and went on to become a host of a later slot on the channel’s morning program.

The decision to have two women hosts was a break with the typical male-female host line-up popular with morning news shows, and came as a slew of top-level men in media and politics have been sacked or have quit following widespread allegations of sexual misconduct.

Lauer, 59, was one of the biggest media scalps in last year’s firestorm of sexual misconduct allegations that engulfed the United States, derailing the careers of Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein, Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, and CBS News anchor Charlie Rose.

Paid $25 million a year, Lauer interviewed four of the last sitting US presidents, anchoring some of the world’s biggest news events for more than two decades including numerous Olympic Games, and breaking news of the September 11 attacks.

News of his replacement by a female host came a day before Tina Smith was due to be sworn in as a senator for Minnesota, replacing former comedian Al Franken who quit after a series of women accused him of sexually inappropriate behavior.

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