Newly-appointed Today show co-host Hoda Kotb is reportedly making $18 million less than her predecessor, serial sexual harasser Matt Lauer, who was ousted from the company in December. Page Six reported yesterday that Kotb, who was named co-anchor on Monday, is getting paid $7 million a year for the job — the same as her co-host, Savannah Guthrie, meaning both women are paid considerably less than Lauer. Combined. Lauer, by the way, was making $25 million a year.
The glaring discrepancy between Lauer and Kotb’s salaries raises questions about what kind of people are valued at NBC. Lauer was paid millions despite harassing his colleagues. Megyn Kelly, who came to NBC from Fox News last year, is being paid $23 million a year to awkwardly interview Jane Fonda and, as Splinter noted yesterday, defend the coded language she regularly used during her time at Fox News. Meanwhile, Kotb and Guthrie are being shortchanged. Guthrie, who has been Lauer’s co-host since 2012, has been making considerably less money than him this entire time. Kotb, who is replacing a man who once gave a sex toy to a colleague and wrote a note describing how he wanted to use it on her, is also getting paid less than that man. Both women are certainly qualified: Guthrie has worked at NBC since 2007, and Kotb has been with the network since 1998. But the most outrageous thing of all is that anyone — especially Lauer, who reportedly had a button under his desk allowing him to lock his door without getting up, which he allegedly once used to lock a woman in his office and sexually assault her — is getting paid $25 million to do any job, ever.
A “show insider” who spoke with Page Six said Kotb is taking it in stride, because duh, $7 million is still a ton of money. “Hoda isn’t complaining about the money. She landed the big job she always dreamed of, and most definitely deserves,” the source said. “Plus, Matt’s salary reflected the long time he was on the show — 25 years. If things go well, Hoda could ask for more next time if she re-ups her contract. But the figures underline the huge wage disparity at NBC News.”
It’s tempting to make Kotb and Guthrie the face of the gender wage gap in media, an industry where a select few high-profile personalities make upwards of seven figures while others struggle to earn a living wage. Numerically speaking, the difference between $25 million and $7 million is huge, but the quality of life that a $25 million salary gets you is essentially identical to that of a $7 million salary. When the richest people in the country are hoarding their wealth at an unprecedented rate, it seems unproductive to quibble about whether a news anchor deserves an extra $18 million.
The “show insider” is right about one thing, though: There’s a gendered wage gap in media and other creative industries. A 2016 Glassdoor report found that, on average, men working in media are paid 6.6 percent more than women who do the same job. This inequality is exacerbated as publications cut full time staff positions and more people are forced to freelance. One report found that women who freelance in media and other creative industries are paid 32 percent less than their male counterparts in the same industry. The difference between $25 million and $7 million may be staggering, but it’s clear that the effects of the wage gap are felt most acutely by people who are taking home much smaller paychecks.
The issue isn’t that Kotb deserves a raise guaranteeing her the equivalent of Lauer’s former salary, but that a handful of people in media and other industries are making millions while the average person’s wages remain stagnant. No one — not Kotb, and certainly not Lauer — deserves a $25 million salary.