Hoda Kotb, Jenna Bush Hager Slam Harrison Butker’s Controversial Speech

Today’s Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager didn’t hold back their feelings about Harrison Butker’s controversial college commencement speech.

The Kansas City Chiefs kicker, 28, made headlines earlier this week for telling female graduates at Benedictine College to embrace becoming a homemaker despite their educational achievement. “Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.”

Harrison went on to wax that his wife Isabelle Butker‘s life “truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and a mother,” and that she was happy to trade in a career to be a homemaker. (The pair, who wed in 2018, share two children.)

On the Thursday, May 16, episode of Today With Hoda & Jenna, Bush Hager, 42, credited her husband, Henry Hager, for her professional success because he treats her like an “equal partner.”

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Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker sparked controversy after making comments about gender roles and the LGTQ+ community during a graduation speech. Butker, 28, served as the commencement speaker for Benedictine College’s graduating class in Atchison, Kansas on Saturday, May 11. During his remarks, the athlete singled out the women graduates. “For the ladies present […]

“Who is [Harrison] to tell us?” she quipped, to which Kotb, 59, added, “Don’t speak for us. I think that’s kind of the thing. Stop speaking for women out there.”

The hosting duo praised people who are stay-at-home parents, with Bush Hager noting that “the work they do is incredible.” At the same time, they pointed out that not all couples are afforded the luxury of having one be at home while the other works. “It’s an elitist concept to begin with,” Bush Hager remarked.

Today's Hoda Kotb, Jenna Bush Hager Slam Harrison Butker's Homemaker Comments: 'Don't Speak for Us'

Harrison Butker
Christopher Trim/Cal Sport Media) Newscom/Mega

“I think that there’s a thing about someone speaking for [someone],” Kotb told her cohost. “And [Harrison] may be speaking for a lot of people, but you can’t speak for everyone. … Women get to decide what they want to do.”

Bush Hager went on to reference America Ferrara’s famous monologue from Barbie, in which her character, Gloria, discusses the complexities of being a woman in modern society. “It is so hard to be a woman,” she stated. “[Harrison] hasn’t had the opportunity to do that yet. So maybe when he comes back in his next life, he can give us a commencement speech about how we can live.”

All the Fallout From Kansas City Chiefs Kicker Harrison Butker's Controversial Graduation Speech

Related: All the Fallout From Harrison Butker’s Controversial Graduation Speech

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker is facing backlash after his controversial graduation speech. Butker, 28, was the commencement speaker at Benedictine College on Saturday, May 11. The athlete first raised eyebrows when he addressed the women graduates to invoke stereotypical gender roles. “I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it […]

The former First Daughter also recalled a recent incident in which Hager, 46, managed to calm her down after a busy day. “I got home and I’m like, ‘I’m upset about this,’ and he was so steady and he was so solid,” she gushed. “And I said to him, ‘I felt really untethered and you steadied me, and I’m so thankful that I have you.’ So what about that, women?” Go find the man that helps you get all of this stuff accomplished.”

She continued: “Or do it on your own, ‘cause look at Hoda Kotb! Do it on your own with your village!” (Kotb has been coparenting her daughters Haley, 7, and Hope, 4, with her ex-fiancé, Joel Schiffman, since their January 2022 split.)

Kotb wrapped up the discussion by stating, “There are lots of ways to live a meaningful life, lots and lots. Some involve children, some may not. Some involve being at home, some may not. Some may involve only volunteering. It doesn’t matter.”

Today's Hoda Kotb, Jenna Bush Hager Slam Harrison Butker's Homemaker Comments: 'Don't Speak for Us'

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager on ‘Today.’
Nathan Congleton/NBC

Several celebrities have spoken out against Harrison in the wake of his commencement speech, including Maria Shriver, who Kotb quoted during her and Bush Hager’s discussion.

“As a woman who has leaned into my vocation of living a meaningful life and working inside and outside the home to not only raise good humans but also raise up our country in various ways, I think it’s demeaning to women to imply that their choices outside of wife and motherhood pale in comparison to that of homemaker,” Shriver, 68, wrote in a lengthy social media statement on Wednesday, May 15.

Shriver added: “It took a revolution to get women the right to vote, to get women to vote, to get women birth control pills, to get women to be able to put their names on a checking account, to get them maternity leave, to get them anything close to pay equity, to get elected to office, to get them where they are today!”


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