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Politics: Opinion | No, Jen Psaki’s Move to MSNBC Won’t Taint NBC News

Jen Psaki plans to depart White House for MSNBC in coming weeks

  Jen Psaki plans to depart White House for MSNBC in coming weeks White House press secretary Jen Psaki plans on departing the Biden administration in the coming weeks and heading to MSNBC, two people familiar with the matter told CNN on Friday. © Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Psaki has not officially signed a contract with the progressive cable news network, but the talks are in the advanced stages, the people said.Axios, which first broke the news, reported that Psaki will host a show for NBC's streaming platform Peacock. She will also appear on MSNBC's shows.MSNBC declined to comment. Video: GOP Senator to Biden: 'Please, Mr.

This time last week, CBS News staffers broke out in hives over the network’s hiring of Trump stalwart Mick Mulvaney as a contributor. Today, we’re learning that the red-welt plague has descended on NBC News’ Washington bureau, which has scratched itself bloody over the expected hiring of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki by MSNBC. At issue, according to reporting by CNN’s Oliver Darcy, is that Psaki was negotiating for the job at the same time she was working as press secretary, and that hiring a Joe Biden flack could taint the network brand.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Washington. © Evan Vucci/AP Photo White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Washington.

The NBC staffers’ howls of pain grew so loud that NBC News President Noah Oppenheim had to place an emergency call to the D.C. newsroom to rub the virtual calamine lotion of soothing words into their lesions. The anti-Psaki protest came even though Oppenheim doesn’t run MSNBC. But like a dog with mange, the staffers still scratched and howled.

Jen Psaki, Biden's press secretary, leaving White House for MSNBC: report

  Jen Psaki, Biden's press secretary, leaving White House for MSNBC: report Jen Psaki will reportedly host a show for Peacock — but there's already talk of replacing Rachel Maddows White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki takes questions during a White House daily press briefing at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on March 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Psaki held a daily press briefing to answer questions from members of the press.

Let them scratch and howl. Don’t take this as an endorsement of Jen Psaki, but the idea that she or anybody else, including Mick Mulvaney, must, at this late date, wave a fat journalistic portfolio at the gate to take a TV job is dismissible. Television news has long supplemented its newsroom cores with paid legal commentators, paid military and intelligence commentators, paid political commentators and more. They might look like strikebreakers to the rank and file who report the news, but in many instances, they can bring value to an outlet’s reporting. The idea that Psaki’s hiring at MSNBC, a network known for opinion, will tarnish the image of hard-news NBC, or that she will tilt coverage further Joe Biden’s way, doesn’t scan. Don’t we expect MSNBC to hire partisans?

Psaki won't confirm she's leaving White House for MSNBC

  Psaki won't confirm she's leaving White House for MSNBC WASHINGTON (AP) — White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday would not confirm reports that she will soon take a TV job at MSNBC, saying she is focused on her job speaking for President Joe Biden. “I have nothing to confirm about my length of public service or planned service or anything about consideration about next plans,” Psaki said under questioning at her first briefing after COVID-19 forced her into quarantine for a second time in late-March. “I'm very happy to be standing with all of you here today after it felt like a never-ending time in my basement quarantining away from my family,” she said.

Still, the speed with which the revolving door can turn a political operative, whose job is often to avoid making news, into someone who is supposed to break news, can startle anybody. For instance, Symone Sanders, who has worked for Bernie Sanders and Biden, now works at both MSNBC and Peacock. You can complain all you want about the instant transformation of operatives into newsroom authorities, but that bird flew the coop decades ago. Government officials stepping into journalism include Bill Moyers, George Stephanopoulos, the late Tim Russert, Bill Bradley, Chris Matthews, Dee Dee Myers, Donna Brazile, Diane Sawyer, Sarah Isgur, Alyssa Farah Griffin, Susan Molinari and more. Not all of them distinguished themselves, but neither did many of them vandalize the institution.

Perhaps the greatest pol-turned-journalist kerfuffle of all time came when New York Times Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger gave President Richard Nixon speechwriter William Safire an op-ed column in 1973 — and did so without even telling the editorial page editor he was doing it! Safire, who had just turned down a similar offer from the Washington Post, was vilified by the press. “He is a paid manipulator,” said David Halberstam, a former Times star, speaking the sentiments of the newsroom. “It’s a lousy column and it’s a dishonest one.” The Washington Post’s Nicholas von Hoffman spoke for much of the press corps when he wrote, “The Times could have saved themselves about 50 grand a year if they just sent an office boy over to the White House to pick up the press releases.” You would have thought Sulzberger had given a butcher a column, even though Safire had worked as a journalist in the 1950s before switching to public relations and politics. Despite the outrage, Safire survived to become something of a Washington institution, even though his best stuff was never as good as his fans believed it was.

Psaki's reported MSNBC deal fraught with ethical landmines, experts say

  Psaki's reported MSNBC deal fraught with ethical landmines, experts say Reports that White House press secretary Jen Psaki will soon leave government service to join MSNBC as a pundit raise serious ethical concerns, multiple experts told the Washington Examiner. Rumors have circulated for months that Psaki has been courted by MSNBC and CNN as she simultaneously worked with the outlets as President Joe Biden's chief liaison to the press. Those rumors came to a head Friday when Axios reported that Psaki was in "exclusive talks" with MSNBC to become a network pundit and to host a show on NBC's online streaming platform around May.

Although Psaki has worked almost exclusively in political press relations, she did join CNN as a contributor in February 2017 and worked there until the Biden transition hired her in November 2020. (Sanders has also worked as a CNN contributor.) If you can’t remember anything Psaki said on CNN, don’t blame yourself. In her on-air appearances, she filed only the most anodyne comments, either because she had nothing to say or because she anticipated that the revolving door would sweep her back into politics someday and she didn’t want to offend her future bosses. Based on her CNN work, she could be a wonderful MSNBC or Peacock host or a wretched one. It looks like an easy job, but it’s not. Back in 1997, CBS News recruited and groomed Rep. Susan Molinari, R-N.Y., for an anchor position. She cratered in nine months and left the network.

As with the Mulvaney hoo-ha, the rage over the prospective hiring of Psaki gives us an MRI scan of journalist insecurities. They imagine themselves “professionals” doing a “professional” if not credentialed job and resent anybody who enters their profession without advanced degrees or years of experience. Psaki’s hiring has become a crime against journalism in the eyes of journalists because it places somebody they consider to be an amateur (or even an anti-journalist) in a place that should go to a professional. But perhaps the greatest thing about journalism is its observance of an open door. Anybody who wants to pick up a pen or a camera and wants to perform an act of journalism can be as much of a journo as the guy or gal who has covered city hall for 40 years. Journalism’s openness to new voices and new approaches distinguishes it from other professions, many of which discourage the entry of new competitors through licensing, credentialing, or other means. The only thing you must do to qualify as a journalist is to get the story.

So, welcome to the newsroom, Jen Psaki, and best of luck. Never mind your screeching detractors, who had better update their tetanus shots. It’s now up to you whether you succeed or fall, Molinari-like, on your face.


I have reserved some extra cortisone cream in my medicine cabinet for the hive-bound at NBC News. Send email requests to [email protected]. My email alerts belong to an email cartel. My Twitter feed wants a show on OAN. My RSS feed follows Old Scratch.

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