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Jenna Bush Hager broke down in tears on the “Today” show while admitting she wasn’t a good friend when Hoda Kotb’s 3-year-old daughter Hope was hospitalized earlier this year.
“When Hoda’s daughter wasn’t feeling well I just wasn’t there for her the way I wanted to be,” Hager, 41, said on Wedesday’s episode of “Today with Hoda & Jenna” as her eyes started welling up with tears.
“I didn’t know how to be and I felt terrible about it. But I didn’t know what to do so I just said it. I said, ‘I feel like I haven’t been there for you.’”
Kotb, 58, got emotional while recalling her co-star’s honesty.
“It was, first of all, one of the most beautiful statements. You’ve had so many beautiful statements, and it touched me deeply, and it meant everything to me that you said that,” Kotb said.
The duo was discussing the concept of brutal honesty when Hager first brought up the difficult moment they had shared and Kotb commended Hager for always being “so honest.”
“I think it’s such a good thing. I mean, I can’t believe you’re bringing up that thing. I can’t believe you’re bringing that up,” Kotb said.
Hager stressed that it’s better to tell the truth than to hold onto regret.
“I was holding it and holding it until I exploded. So if you can’t tell the truth that would be horrible,” Hager said.
Hoda agreed, adding that there’s a “release when we tell the truth.”
But both TV personalities agreed that people shouldn’t confuse being “brutally honest” with being unnecessarily critical.
“This kind of honestly is beautiful,” Kotb said about Hager’s words. “The kind of honestly where someone comes up who is not maybe one of your besties… ‘I just need to be brutally honest, the outfit you’re wearing…’ It’s like no, no, no, no.”
Kotb was mysteriously absent from the “Today” show for more than a week in February and it was later revealed her hiatus was over “a family health matter.” Kotb returned to the show in March, sharing with viewers that her daughter was recovering after being in the ICU for a few days and in the hospital for more than a week.
“I’m so grateful she’s home,” Kotb said at the time. “We are watching her closely. I am just so happy.
She added through tears, “I’m grateful for the doctors and the nurse. I’m grateful to my family and to friends like you who were there every single day.”
Kotb called her daughter’s hospitalization “really scary,” but gushed over her little one as she recovered.
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“She’s vibrant and brilliant,” Kotb said on her NBC show. “I’m over the moon that she’s home.
While Kotb has yet to reveal the exact health problems her daughter was inflicted with, she shared in April that Hope is on the mend.
“I think you realize just how incredibly resilient and strong she is,” Kotb said on Southern Living’s “Biscuits & Jam” podcast at the time. “I think sometimes you learn life’s lessons from the most amazing places.”
Kotb and her ex Joel Schiffman adopted Hope and their other daughter Haley, 6, in 2019 and 2017, respectively, before ending their engagement in 2022.
Meanwhile, the daughter of former President George W. Bush shares three kids — Mila, 10, Poppy, 7, and Hal, 3 — with husband Henry Hager, whom she married in 2008.
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