White House communications staffers have a long history of entering television news soon after leaving an administration. George Stephanopoulos has become one of the top faces in the news business, and was previously former President Clinton’s communications director. Dana Perino would eventually become an anchor on Fox News after her stint as former President George W. Bush’s press secretary, and Nicolle Wallace is a host on MSNBC who also worked as communications director in the Bush administration. Then, there are Kayleigh McEnany and Sean Spicer, who host (or co-host) shows on Fox and Newsmax, respectively.
Yet, according to a report from CNN’s Oliver Darcy, a number of NBC News journalists are frustrated about White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki being hired by MSNBC to host a show on the cable network and on Peacock. CNN also pursued Psaki, but she decided to go with MSNBC.
He reports that those angry journalists approached NBC News president Noah Oppenheim in the form of a phone call last Friday, and said they felt MSNBC signing Psaki would hurt the NBC News brand.
Darcy quoted an anonymous source on the call as saying Oppenheim said that MSNBC and NBC News are separate entities, with the former more focused on left-leaning opinion shows.
“Here’s what he was saying: They have perspective programming. This was done on the perspective programming side. Not anything that reflects on NBC News,” a source told Darcy.
NBC News personalities Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell and Hallie Jackson have a presence at both NBC News and MSNBC. It does seem a bit odd that these journalists are now irate about the cable network bringing on a soon-to-be-former press secretary who worked in a Democratic White House. MSNBC has been presenting left-leaning programming for years, and if anything, there are more daytime news hours now than there were on the network a decade ago. Why the anger now?
The call between the unnamed journalists and Oppenheim took place on Friday morning, as previously mentioned, and hours later, NBC chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked Psaki about her reported talks with MSNBC at the White House press briefing.
“How is it ethical to have these conversations with media outlets while you continue to have a job standing behind that podium?” Welker asked.
“There are a range of stringent ethical and legal requirements that are imposed on everybody in this administration and many administrations past about any conversations you are having with future employers,” responded Psaki. “That is true of any industry you’re working in and I have abided by those and tried to take steps to go beyond that as well.”
According to Darcy, there’s a frustration among numerous NBC News journalists with what they see as MSNBC’s increased focus on partisan opinion programming (despite the fact that there’s been partisan programming on the network for decades), with Darcy noting the network’s decision to hire former White House aide and vp Kamala Harris spokesperson Symone Sanders to host shows across MSNBC and Peacock. She debuts on the network next week.
NBC News is not commenting.