A new era began on 'Today' Monday, as Savannah Guthrie officially stepped into the role of co-anchor on the show.
"It truly is a new day around here," her new partner, Matt Lauer, said as he welcomed her to the role.
Asked how she felt, Guthrie said, "Great ... it's an honor to be here." She added that she was "so nervous" she didn't hear her name being read out by the show's announcer.
Lauer said that he was happy to have her sitting next to him.
"You've done a great job," he said. "We're happiest because you bring a great attitude and what we like to call a weird sense of humor." Then, the two moved the show along, with Guthrie interviewing President Obama's adviser Robert Gibbs.
Later, the program devoted a more substantial package to her, declaring her "part of the family." (Guthrie quipped that watching the clip show was like "attending your own funeral.") Admitting that her presence was a "little unexpected, as we all know," she said she was "so proud and honored to be in a place occupied by so many women that I admire."
The "unexpected" line was a reference to the fact that Guthrie's tenure has begun at a singularly troubled time for the NBC show. It usually prizes itself on making easy, upbeat transitions, but this ascension comes amidst considerable gloom. She is replacing Ann Curry, whose messy, abrupt ouster as co-host drew heaps of criticism. "Today" has also been knocked off its perch as the unassailable leader in morning television; it now finds itself in a much closer ratings battle with ABC rival "Good Morning America."
NBC is hoping that Guthrie can pull off her new role with ease. Luckily, she's had plenty of practice; in the short year that she has been co-host of the 9 AM hour, she has been the most frequent fill-in for Curry, giving her plenty of time to work on her chemistry with Matt Lauer and on the show's dizzying spins from the serious to the fluffy. It's not the first time NBC has made a big bet on the 40-year-old. She's had a lightning-fast rise through the network, from legal correspondent to White House reporter to "Today."
Guthrie will have a very big chance to show her stuff when "Today" packs off to London at the end of July for the Olympics. NBC was keen to put its new team in place before those crucial weeks, when it hopes to use the increased attention to put some firm distance between itself and "GMA."