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Jen Psaki is said to be in talks to join MSNBC

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, is in advanced talks with MSNBC to join the network after leaving the Biden administration, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

Ms Psaki could leave the White House as early as next month, one of the people said.

While the details of her role are still being debated, negotiations have focused on an agreement in which she could host shows for both MSNBC and Peacock, the streaming platform of NBCUniversal, MSNBC’s parent company. Ms Psaki could also appear regularly on other MSNBC shows as well as NBC News, people said.

The path from the West Wing lectern to a broadcaster’s chair is well-worn: George Stephanopoulos, for example, had a hard time briefing the press on behalf of President Bill Clinton before working his way up to become ABC News chief.

But it’s unusual for a White House press secretary to be affiliated with a news organization before officially leaving his government post. And Ms. Psaki, if she joins MSNBC, would be the network’s second major hire this year from the Biden administration; Former Vice President Kamala Harris spokeswoman Symone D. Sanders will host a show for MSNBC and Peacock.

That tension arose on Friday during Ms Psaki’s regularly scheduled briefing, where she was faced with tough questions – including from a potential future colleague – about her possible new job, following an Axios report.

Ms Psaki initially declined to say whether she was in talks with MSNBC, saying she had “nothing to confirm about my tenure in public service or my planned service or anything about the consideration of next plans”.

But Kristen Welker, NBC News’ co-chief White House correspondent, repeatedly pressed her on the matter. “How is it ethical to have these conversations with the media while continuing to have a job behind this podium?” asked Ms. Welker.

Ms Psaki said she adhered to “a strict set of ethical and legal requirements imposed on everyone in this administration” when interviewing prospective employers. She also told reporters, “I hope to meet my own bar of treating everyone fairly and fairly.”

The White House said in a statement, “Jen is here, working hard every day on behalf of the President to bring you the answers to the questions you have, and that’s her focus.”

Though a deal isn’t finalized and could still fall apart, Ms Psaki is now only speaking to NBCUniversal officials, the two people said. CNN also followed them, one of them said.

Typically, the journey from the White House to hosting a show is gradual: Nicolle Wallace, communications director for former President George W. Bush, spent years as an on-air analyst before finding fame with her two-hour afternoon program on MSNBC. Dana Perino, one of Mr. Bush’s publicists, took a similar path at Fox News.

The journey has accelerated in recent years, fueled in part by viewers’ appetites for political news and the expansion of streaming TV platforms, which have created dozens of television hours to fill. Sean Spicer, former President Donald J. Trump’s first press secretary, is now a show co-host on Newsmax; Kayleigh McEnany, Mr. Trump’s last publicist, is a co-anchor on an afternoon show on Fox News.

It’s no surprise that Ms. Psaki is contemplating the next act in her career. Shortly after joining the Biden team, she said she would stay in the position for about a year. She served as White House communications director during the Obama administration and was John Kerry’s chief spokesperson when he was Secretary of State.

As press secretary, Ms. Psaki has revived the daily White House briefing, a tradition that largely fell by the wayside during the Trump years, and has garnered praise for her deft, if sometimes evasive, handling of reporters’ questions.

Her prickly exchange with Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy is often shared on social media platforms. On TikTok, the phrase “Psaki Bomb” is used by liberals who enjoy seeing their rebukes at Mr. Doocy’s questions.

Michael D Shear contributed reporting.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/01/business/media/jen-psaki-msnbc.html Jen Psaki is said to be in talks to join MSNBC

Ian Walker

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