B+C Hall of Fame 2022: Savannah Guthrie
Co-Anchor of ‘Today’ and Chief Legal Correspondent, NBC News
Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor on Today, marks 10 years in the role this summer. Guthrie has had an eventful decade, interviewing presidents, corporate CEOs and global newsmakers on a regular basis.
It’s a busy time in news to say the least, and Guthrie feels the Today team has never been stronger. “I feel the best I’ve ever felt, the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in this job,” she said. “I’m just grateful every day to be able to do it.”
Also: Welcome to the 30th Anniversary of the ‘B+C’ Hall of Fame
The pandemic has, of course, been a front-page story for two years, and the war in Ukraine gives news gatherers another colossus to tackle. That’s just the pace of the game in 2022. “The news cycle just seems to get shorter and shorter, to the point where I don’t know that there is even such a thing as a news cycle anymore,” said Guthrie, also NBC News chief legal correspondent. “We used to talk when I was starting out about the 24-hour news cycle. Now it’s like the 24-second
Starting in Stations
Guthrie was born in Australia and raised in Tucson. She studied journalism at the University of Arizona, and learned about television while working part-time at local PBS station KUAT Tucson. Her roles included grip, camera operator and director, and she got on-air, hosting a fundraising slot one Sunday morning.
Guthrie parlayed that into a weekend anchor/weekday reporter job in Butte, Montana (DMA No. 185, if you’re scoring at home). Ten days after she arrived, the staff was brought in for an emergency meeting. The station, they were told, was shutting down.
“I’d spent all my money to get there,” Guthrie said. “It was crushing. My career was over before it began.”
Guthrie was able to land at a station in Columbia, Missouri, then another in Tucson, before she began law school at Georgetown.
“I was done with TV,” said Guthrie. “Or so I thought.”
She sought freelance work at the D.C. stations, and got a call from NBC-owned WRC about an assignment.
Practicing law at the time, Guthrie was about to become a law clerk for a federal judge, but had an “epiphany,” she said, about getting into network news. She told the judge she would not be taking the job. “He was flummoxed,” she said. “Nobody does that.”
Guthrie continued freelancing in local TV, then landed a job at Court TV. Based in New York, she became a legal analyst at various networks, including at NBC’s Today, and NBC offered her a position in 2007. “To be walking the halls of 30 Rock and meeting these people was beyond my wildest dreams,” Guthrie said.
She became NBC News’s White House correspondent late in 2008, and landed on Today in June 2011, becoming co-anchor in 2012.
Noah Oppenheim, NBC News president, said Today “sets the tone” for NBC News each morning. “No one is smarter, no one works harder or does more preparation, and no one is more adept on their feet, in the moment, when doing live interviews,” he said of Guthrie. Oppenheim also mentioned Guthrie’s “exceptionally high emotional intelligence,” a vital asset for interviews.
“She is the full package,” he added.
Co-anchor and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Hoda Kotb sings a similar tune, calling Guthrie “incredibly well-prepared” each morning. “There’s not a detail she misses and there’s not an interview she shirks away from,” Kotb added.
Guthrie, who is 50, has children who are 7 and 5. With the kids in mind, she authored the 2017 children’s book Princesses Wear Pants with Allison Oppenheim, wife of Noah.
Waking up well before dawn is challenging, but Guthrie said being part of the Today team, all of whom get up early, work their butts off and make a compelling show each day, gives her inspiration. “How fun is it to be in a joint enterprise, doing something you think has purpose and meaning, that’s fun and creative and exciting?” she said.
The show offers viewers the right mix of hard news and hope, said Guthrie, and the can-do attitude on both sides of the camera is “contagious.”
“How could you not feel like you want to pour everything you have into it,” she said, “when everyone is pouring everything they have into it?” ■
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.