Kathie Lee Gifford Reacts to Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Cover: “I Loved Bruce,” Will “Learn to Love Caitlyn”

Kathie Lee Caitlyn Jenner
Kathie Lee Gifford reacted to her longtime family friend Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover on the Today show: "I loved Bruce," she explained, "and I'm going to learn to love Caitlyn." Taylor Hill/Getty Images

She wants to know Caitlyn as much as the rest of Us! Kathie Lee Gifford reacted to her longtime family friend Caitlyn Jenner's debut as a woman on the July 2015 cover of Vanity Fair on the Today show on Tuesday, June 2.

Gifford's co-host, Hoda Kotb, shared how she initially responded to the cover when one of her producers showed her the image of the Olympian (formerly known as Bruce Jenner) in a tiny corset alongside the words "Call Me Caitlyn!" Kotb confessed that she had no idea who the woman was. "I go, 'I don't know her.'"

"There is a sense of 'Bye, Bruce,'" Gifford said while holding up a copy of the New York Daily News' front page. "He was an iconic figure and he represented who goes on a Wheaties box. I loved Bruce and I still love Bruce, and I'm going to learn to love Caitlyn. I've spoken to her but I've not been in the same room with her. So when I was talking to her on the phone right before the Diane Sawyer thing, it still sounded like my friend Bruce when we were talking about the transitioning."

Gifford said she was pleased about Caitlyn's warm public reception, which included a record-shattering number of followers on Twitter on Monday. "I'm glad that he — she — is being treated as lovingly in the public with this, because it does take a lot of courage to do what she's doing," Gifford noted, calling attention to the flip side of the story which involves her close friend Kris Jenner.

Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair Cover

"It also is a very difficult process for the family," Gifford noted. "You just have to put yourselves in their shoes. You just celebrate one person's triumph."

Gifford, 61, reasoned how God perceives Caitlyn in the wake of his transition. "I'm hoping that grace will be our guiding force of this… I don't believe that God makes mistakes. I do believe He loves who and what He creates." She continued, "What God created in you is the essence of you… This body that we're all in is temporal, and our soul is what I think is eternal."

The co-host explained her longtime connection to the Kardashian-Jenner family to viewers who weren't aware of how far back the Giffords went with Caitlyn and Kris. "I've known him since 1982. Frank's known him since 1976. We've been around the world together on different family trips and things," she shared. "I think everybody has heard that we're godparents to their two children Kendall and Kylie. So there's a familiarity, there's an intimacy there."

In the Vanity Fair profile, there were conflicting points regarding what Kris knew and what Caitlyn had told her when they were married. While Caitlyn insisted to writer Buzz Bissinger that Kris was aware of her dressing in women's clothing, breast growth, and hormone use, the momager claimed otherwise. Giffords maintained that she did not notice anything unusual about Caitlyn's breasts when the families would vacation together over the years.

"I never saw breasts on him ever. We went swimming all the time," Giffords noted. "Diving off boats… I never saw that. It's never a he said-she said thing. Let's deal with it now."

She concluded by telling viewers that her opinions haven't always aligned with the family's choices over the years. "I love the family. I disagree with a lot of the decisions they've made through the years," she shared. "But friends love you through thick and thin. Or else, they're not a friend."

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