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8 Apr, 2022 19:18

NBC employees fear for brand integrity if Psaki hired – media

White House press secretary's potential hire ruffles feathers at network's sister station
NBC employees fear for brand integrity if Psaki hired – media

NBC journalists are concerned former White House press secretary Jen Psaki's hire at their sister station MSNBC would “tarnish” the brand's credibility, people familiar with the matter told CNN on Friday.

There was apparently enough concern over the issue to warrant an “impromptu phone call” from NBC News president Noah Oppenheim, the sources claimed, revealing the executive had attempted to soothe angry and anxious employees by drawing a distinction between NBC and MSNBC's opinion journalism and reminding them that NBC had nothing to do with the decision to hire Psaki.

The hire of the former press secretary was made “on the perspective programming side,” Oppenheim allegedly told those on the call, and was “not anything that reflects on NBC News.” He urged the concerned journalists to “ignore the noise surrounding Psaki's hire and to continue doing their jobs as normal,” the sources told CNN.

At least two reporters took their ethical concerns to Psaki in public during a recent 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?” one reporter inquired of Psaki, who insisted she had adhered to the “range of stringent ethical and legal requirements that are imposed on everybody in this administration…about any conversations you're having with future employers.” 

Another journalist asked if it were the “policy of this White House to allow staffers to have discussions, even indirectly, with institutions that impact and affect their jobs and your job here?” Psaki responded that “anyone who is having conversations about future employment does so through consultation with the White House Counsel's office and ensuring they abide by many ethics and legal requirements,” arguing she had indeed “abided by every component” of those conversations.

Psaki was apparently courted by multiple news networks about a post-White House position and has not officially inked a deal with MSNBC, according to CNN, one of the networks that sought to hire her as well. An agreement, however, is said to be in the advanced stages.

Psaki follows the three Trump administration press secretaries in taking a job with a news network after departing the White House. But rather than easing into the role via a series of appearances as a “political analyst,” offering her opinion or input on someone else's program, she would reportedly be taking up a role as host immediately, headlining a show for MSNBC's Peacock streaming platform.

The White House staffer's hire was foreshadowed in a June 2021 interview that saw former Bush White House communications director Nicolle Wallace, now an MSNBC pundit, fawn over the Biden administration mouthpiece in an exchange that was widely mocked. Wallace gushed over Psaki's work and encouraged her to “stand [her] ground” and to never “allow the briefing room to be a forum for propaganda or false information.

However, as NBC itself recently revealed, US intelligence agencies have been deliberately laundering phony stories about the war in Ukraine through the media, including baseless claims that Russia planned to use chemical weapons and that Russian President Vladimir Putin's advisors were misleading him about the situation on the ground.