Jenna Bush Hager Gives Update on Hoda Kotb Post-Breakup (Exclusive)

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Jenna Bush Hager is always proud of her pal, Hoda Kotb. ET's Rachel Smith spoke with the 40-year-old Today With Hoda & Jenna co-host on Wednesday, and Bush Hager revealed why she was proud of Kotb for how she handled the announcement of her split from Joel Schiffman on the show.

"I am proud of Hoda every single day," Bush Hager said. "She's filled with compassion and grace. I watch her come into her office every morning smiling at every single person."

On a personal level, Bush Hager noted that Kotb "has treated me with such love and has been a mentor and now a really dear friend."

"So it is no surprise [how she handled the breakup]," Bush Hager added. "She does everything in life with grace and compassion."

When Kotb announced in January that she and Schiffman had split, she became the news, rather than the person delivering the news. That's just "part of the territory," Bush Hager said.

"I think we all are just so happy to have each other," she said. "People say the Today show is a family and it seems like a cliché... but it's true. Hoda is like a sister to me, a lovely, wonderful presence in my life... That is the truth."

"We have such a supportive force and I encourage people if they don’t have that in their workplace to build it, because that is what we have here," Bush Hager added.

The co-hosts are taking off to New Orleans next week, where they'll be on hand for the New Orleans Book Festival.

"She's so excited," Bush Hager said of Kotb. "She gets the thing she loves, which is New Orleans. I get to go to the New Orleans Book Festival for the thing I love, books. We get to do the thing we love together, which is eat and drink."

Bush Hager also showcased her love of books on Wednesday's episode of the show, as she celebrated the third anniversary of her Read With Jenna book club.

"I think we saw at the Today show how many in our audience love to read," she said. "We saw that there was a gap here, at least at the show, for this club. I'm also obsessed with reading. I mean, I read all the time."

The milestone came just weeks after Bush Hager announced that she's teamed up with Universal Studio Group to start her own production company, in an effort to turn some of her favorite books into TV shows and movies, à la Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine.

"What [Witherspoon's] done for women and literacy, it's just incredible," Bush Hager said. "... There are so many incredible women that have helped the literary space. Oprah [Winfrey], Reese, now Jenna Bush Hager. To even be in the same sentence as them is just such an honor."


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