Correction: The original version of this article misspelled Tammy Filler's name.

New York CNN Business —  

A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Kathie Lee Gifford will say goodbye to NBC’s “Today” show on Friday. And it is shaping up to be a send-off for the ages. There will be a live studio audience, “surprise guests, surprise performances, tributes, games, giveaways,” a network source says.

The “Today” show definitely knows how to produce these moments. This time is unique because Gifford is unique: She has been a comforting presence on peoples’ TV screens for 25 years. Gifford’s fourth hour of “Today” with Hoda Kotb is about family, friendship, faith, fun… Like the best daytime TV shows, the show is about companionship… Stars have been dropping by all week…

Cheers to Kathie Lee

Some morning-evening synergy: Lester Holt had an interview with Gifford on Thursday’s “Nightly News.” She said “everything” on the show with Kotb “comes out of a real friendship.” As for the ever-present wine, she said “it set the tone for, ‘welcome to our party.’ “We’re having a good time and it’s not at anybody’s expense. It’s not mean-spirited.”

Holt asked: “Kathie Lee is not retiring, you’re… what?” Gifford: “Evolving!”

→ NBC News prez Noah Oppenheim said earlier that “Kathie Lee’s plate has been overflowing lately with film, music and book projects,” and “she’s decided to focus her attention full-time on those other creative endeavors…”

Diana Miller promoted at “CBS This Morning”

There was loud applause in the newsroom when new CBS News president Susan Zirinsky announced Diana Miller’s promotion on Thursday. She has effectively been the exec producer of “CBS This Morning” ever since Ryan Kadro exited three months ago. But now her E.P. title is official…

A milestone for morning TV

For the first time, all three network morning programs have female exec producers: Miller at CBS, Roxanna Sherwood at “GMA,” Libby Leist at “Today.” Here’s my full story…

BTW: Until today, I didn’t realize that every weekday program at NBC News has a female E.P. Including Jackie Levin, running the 9 a.m. hour of “Today,” Tammy Filler, running the 10 a.m. hour, and Jenn Suozzo at “Nightly…”

FRIDAY PLANNER

– President Trump is visiting Calexico, California, and touring a portion of the border…

– Variety is holding its Power of Women: New York luncheon at Cipriani Midtown…

– The International Journalism Festival continues in Perugia, Italy…

Check out this week’s “Reliable” podcast

By now you may have heard about investigative journalist Jessikka Aro and the award she was supposed to receive from the State Department. Something went wrong, and the award was rescinded. Democrats on Capitol Hill have been vocal about this strange case. But I haven’t heard much from Aro herself.

So I connected with her in Helsinki for this week’s podcast. Did the State Department really rescind her award because she posted critical tweets about President Trump? It sure seems that way. She wants answers – and she’s not alone. We talked about all of it… Plus her ongoing reporting on the “Russian propaganda machine…” Listen to the pod via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your favorite app…

FOR THE RECORD

– Washington Times opinions editor Charles Hurt had an “exclusive Oval Office interview” with POTUS… Hurt asked about Barbara Bush’s criticism of him, as reported in Susan Page’s new book… (Times)

– Herman Cain, who was a Fox News contributor until August 2018, is being recommended by Trump “for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board…” (CNN)

– Howard Schultz fielded Q’s on Fox Thursday evening… It was the network’s first town hall of the 2020 season… (Fox)

Read more of Thursday’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter… And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox…

– As expected, Tim Ryan announced his 2020 bid on “The View” on Thursday. Who’s next? Well, Eric Swalwell is on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” next week… (The Atlantic)

– Last night I wrote about Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman’s forthcoming book “The Hill to Die On.” Politico will publish an excerpt on Friday… And NBC says the authors will start their TV rollout on Sunday’s “Meet the Press…”

Waiting and waiting for the Mueller report…

Maybe there should be a “number of days” clock on screen?

“Washington is an absolute pressure cooker right now,” Don Lemon said Thursday night, citing the intensifying standoff over Robert Mueller’s still-secret report.

Over on MSNBC, Chris Hayes noted that “protesters all over the country are demanding” the release of the full report. The banner on his show said “First-ever leaks from Mueller team reveal frustration with Barr’s synopsis.”

The NYT was the first with that news on Wednesday night. CNN and other outlets have now matched it. The WaPo calls this a “new phase of the nearly two-year-old battle over the Russia probe.”

Later in the evening, a banner on Lemon’s show said “All this could be straightened out if we could see Mueller’s report…”

→ What will happen on Friday? “Sooner rather than later, we’re going to learn a lot more,” NBC’s Ken Dilanian said on “The Last Word…”

Surprised?

Stephen Colbert isn’t surprised. Neither are lots and lots of Trump critics. Colbert said on Thursday’s “Late Show,” “Last night the NYT revealed that some investigators on Mueller’s team say the Mueller report was more damaging to Trump than Barr revealed.” Audience members OOOH’ed. “Yeah,” Colbert said. “That was in The New York Times. But it was also the cover story for NO DUH magazine.”

Today in the meme wars…

NYMag’s Madison Malone Kircher put it this way: “The leader of the free world tweeted a doctored video of Joe Biden fondling himself.” True. “And it got little attention,” WaPo’s Josh Dawsey tweeted Thursday night. Also true. The NYT decided to put Trump v. Biden on Friday’s front page, however…Annie Karni’s excellent story said “the tweet and video seemed like a typical partisan jab, except for the fact that it was issued by a president who has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct and assault…”