Jenna Bush Hager Says Laura Bush Is Not a Fan of Her 'Today' Show Day-Drinking: 'My Mom Judges'

Former First Lady Laura Bush is not a fan of Today's tradition of serving wine and cocktails before noon

Winesday Wednesday might not go over so well in the Bush household.

Jenna Bush Hager is preparing to step in alongside Hoda Kotb as cohost of the Today show’s 10 o’clock hour when Kathie Lee Gifford departs the show in April. But she says her mother, former First Lady Laura Bush, is not a fan of the show’s tradition of serving wine and cocktails before noon.

“My mom judges, just so you know. She kind of does,” Bush Hager, 37, jokes in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE for this week’s issue, on stands Friday. “But [the wine] is just there as a symbolic thing like, ‘come and sit with us and come hang out with us.'”


Bush Hager says she was so nervous the first time she filled in for Gifford back in 2011, “I remember I was sort of glad I could have a sip just to tame my nerves,” she recalls. On that occasion, “the judgment, my mom kept to herself.”

Jenna Bush Hager Laura Bush, New York, USA
Jenna Bush Hager (left) with mom Laura Bush. Richard Drew/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Now that she is mom to daughters Mila, 5, and Poppy, 3, with husband Henry Hager, “There’s days where I have to take my kids to school and work out and do whatever else and have meetings and write a book — whatever. Hoda, too. We’re busy,” she says. “So on some days we have some of it and some days we don’t. I think it’s more of ‘come and join us, visit our table’ you know, that type of feeling.”

  • For more on Jenna Bush Hager, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday

And although Bush Hager and Kotb say there will be more changes to the fourth hour of Today, “I vote keep the wine,” Kotb says with a laugh.

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“Kathy left a legacy that will be there forever,” adds Kotb, 54. “One thing is for sure, we’re going to have lively conversations. It is still a party. That’s what works. I think wine immediately shows the party continues and it should. Wine comes with deep conversations. It comes with parties. It comes with everything, and I think there’s just something symbolic about having — inviting someone in that way.”

Today airs from 7-11 a.m. on NBC.

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