TV News

Kathie Lee Gifford's Return Gets Mixed Reviews

04/08/2008 at 12:25 PM EDT

Video courtesy NBC
Video courtesy NBC

Kathie Lee Gifford came out for her second day as fourth-hour co-host of the Today show Tuesday, and said, "Everyone's reaction around the country was so nice ... Thank you, America."

Indeed, for the most part, the return of Gifford to daytime TV on Monday was largely met with open arms – though, as has long been the case with the personality, there were detractors. Strong ones.

First, the Valentines. Both Manhattan tabloids, the New York Post and the Daily News, got warm and fuzzy over Gifford.

While admitting that viewers either love her or hate her, Post critic Adam Buckman finally threw up his hands and conceded that he "had a feeling that TV in general had suddenly improved, now that Kathie Lee Gifford had returned."

His News counterpart, David Hinckley, was polite without gushing, though the headline above his review did: "Kathie Lee's Clearly the Woman of the Hour."

Even The New York Times's Alessandra Stanley seemed brightened by her return, saying Gifford settled "sunnily" next to co-host Hoda Kotb. "It was as if she had never left morning television."

The Detractors

Beyond Gifford's Gotham City home base, the view wasn't so rosy. The Toronto Star's Vinay Menon, who likened Gifford's goody-goody image to Elisabeth Hasselbeck's, carped about the lack of chemistry between Kathie Lee and Hoda.

But it was The Washington Post's venerable Tom Shales who really went to town. Calling the Today's fourth hour "The View for dummies," the critic expressed his dislike for Gifford rooted in "her assumption that her life is every bit as important to us as it is to her. But that would be categorically impossible."

Last week, between the announcement of her return and her actual debut, Gifford. 54, told PEOPLE she was ready to face media scrutiny. "I can handle it better now, and I'm wiser," she said. "At my age, you give up your thighs but you gain wisdom."

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