Jen Psaki: NBC News journalists vexed by MSNBC’s move to hire White House press secretary

Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, even made an impromptu phone call Friday so he could broach the matter with angry Washington bureau employees, some of whom have complained to their superiors that the tentative hire tarnishes the NBC brand. News.

Oppenheim, trying to defuse the anger, reaffirmed the distinction on the call between NBC News and MSNBC’s talk programming, some of the people familiar with the matter said.

Oppenheim, who does not oversee MSNBC, told reporters that NBC News was not involved in Psaki’s hiring. And he pointed out to those on the phone that he works for the NBC News brand and that hires made for MSNBC’s opinion arm should be viewed as unrelated to his work, the people said.

“This is what I was saying: They have perspective programming. This was done on the perspective programming side. It’s nothing that’s reflected on NBC News,” explained one of the people on the call.

“People wanted answers about what NBC’s role was in this and NBC News had no role in this,” the person added. “This is MSNBC’s perspective programming.”

It is not unusual for politicians and government officials to sign agreements with news organizations when they leave office. But Psaki’s tentative deal with MSNBC unsettled her staff because news of the negotiations between her and the network came while she was still in her position as White House press secretary.

Also, instead of hiring Psaki for the more typical post-White House role, as a political analyst offering opinions and analysis on someone else’s show, MSNBC intends to make her the host of a show that will air on its Peacock platform.

Oppenheim told reporters on the call to ignore the noise surrounding Psaki’s hiring and to continue doing their jobs as normal, the people who spoke to CNN said.

Kristen Welker, chief White House correspondent for NBC News, did exactly that later in the day. She repeatedly pressed Psaki about ethics related to her plans to host an MSNBC show while she continued to serve as press secretary.

However, Oppenheim’s call hasn’t entirely eliminated frustration among NBC News reporters, the people who spoke to CNN said.

As Puck first reported, Psaki was engaged in discussions with several television networks, including CNN, about possible jobs he could take after leaving the White House. While she hasn’t officially signed a contract with MSNBC, talks with the network are in advanced stages and the two sides essentially have a handshake deal.

Psaki declined to comment Wednesday. But a White House official previously told CNN that he had recused himself from interviews on NBC News and MSNBC.

A spokesman for NBC News and MSNBC declined to comment.

The drama surrounding Psaki’s hiring has exposed a larger issue at play at NBC Universal News Group: a rift between NBC News and MSNBC that is once again growing.

In fact, Psaki’s hiring wasn’t the first move that upset some NBC News reporters. “This has been a slow boil for a while,” said an NBC News staffer.

Some NBC News reporters were first upset when MSNBC announced it had hired Symone Sanders, a former senior spokeswoman for Vice President Kamala Harris, to host a weekend show, people familiar with the matter said.

And NBC News reporters have closely watched how MSNBC has leaned toward programs that prioritize commentary and perspective over those that emphasize hard news since Rashida Jones took over as network president just over a year ago. anus.

Jones replaced the 9 a.m. show with an additional hour of “Morning Joe” and filled the 11 p.m. hour, previously occupied by Brian Williams, with Stephanie Ruhle. While Williams offered her perspectives while on MSNBC, Ruhle is more direct in sharing her opinion.

“Rashida is unapologetic about what he’s doing with MSNBC,” an MSNBC staffer told CNN. “She has been clear about the direction of the network.”

However, Jones’s moves have put NBC News reporters who host shows on MSNBC in a tricky position.

On the one hand, journalists like Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell, Hallie Jackson and others report to the bosses at NBC News. But on the other hand, they also host shows on MSNBC, which means that, fair or not, the cable news network’s actions end up reflecting on them.

“It’s a challenge for everyone to navigate,” an NBC News staffer familiar with the internal dynamics told CNN.

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