"I do think that people can have different beliefs and still be friends," said Jenna Bush Hager

By Benjamin VanHoose
February 13, 2020 09:29 AM
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Jenna Bush Hager believes friendships extend beyond party lines.

On Wednesday, the TV personality, 38, and her Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb stopped by Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, where she discussed the backlash to Ellen DeGeneres sitting next to her father, former President George W. Bush, at an NFL game in October.

“Well, I mean, I had just had a baby so to be totally honest I didn’t pay that much attention to it,” said Hager, “but I do think that people can have different beliefs and still be friends.”

She added: “And I also think decency and humanity should be at the basis of all conversations.”

During a Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers matchup in Texas on Oct. 6, viewers took issue with DeGeneres, 62, and her wife, Portia de Rossi, sitting beside the Republican president, 73, and former First Lady Laura Bush.

From left: Jenna Bush Hager, Ellen DeGeneres and former President George W. Bush
| Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images; Robin Marchant/Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In November, Hager talked about the friendship with PEOPLE, saying that she “personally thought it was great.”

“My dad likes people that think differently than him, that believe differently, and people are surprised by this,” she said at the time. “But my parents raised both [twin sister] Barbara and I to have our own opinions.”

She added: “I personally, and I think so many of us, miss a time where people who have different opinions get along. And I yearn for that. I want my kids to realize that we live in a world when people are think tons of different things and we treat everybody with respect and kindness.”

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From left: Laura Bush, George W. Bush, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi on Oct. 6
| Credit: Fox NFL

At the time, people took issue with DeGeneres being seen with President Bush given his conservative politics and anti-gay record while in office.

In response to confusion voiced by her fans, DeGeneres cleared the air by addressing the seating arrangements at the football game in a segment on her daytime talk show.

“They thought, ‘Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?’ ” she said. “But a lot of people were mad, and they did what people do when they’re mad: They tweet.”

The comedian continued by explaining that she is friends with “a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs,” emphasizing that that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

“We’re all different, and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different,” she said, later adding, “Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them.”

She added: “When I say, ‘be kind to one another,’ I don’t only mean the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”