CNN reports that NBC News staffers are angry over MSNBC hiring Jen Psaki while she's still White House press secretary. Management responded to their concerns by emphasizing that MSNBC is opinion programming, not news. Staffers are still upset. Via CNN:
It is not unusual for politicians and government officials to sign deals with news organizations when they exit their positions. But Psaki’s tentative deal with MSNBC perturbed staffers because news of the negotiations between her and the network came while she is still in her post as White House press secretary.
Additionally, instead of hiring Psaki into the more typical post-White House role, such as a political analyst offering opinion and analysis on another person’s program, MSNBC intends to make her a host for a show that will stream on its Peacock platform.
Oppenheim told the journalists on the call he held to ignore the noise surrounding Psaki’s hire 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 the ethics related to her plans to host an MSNBC show while also continuing to serve as press secretary.
Why is this different? Well, for one thing, she's not being hired as a journalist! Jen Psaki has actual star quality. As the late Eric Boehlert wrote a year ago:
In less than three months, Psaki has put her permanent stamp on the job, taking over the high-profile position at a time of national crisis. Working hard to reestablish an open, professional relationship with the Beltway press corps, Psaki has perhaps done more than anyone in the administration — including Biden himself — in terms of changing the tone in our politics, and creating a new path forward towards a transparent form of government, in the wake of the Trump's ransacking of the norms.
If she were incompetent -- if she were someone who lied to the press, who had no inherent value, I could see their concern. But if this is about job hunting while you're still working for the White House, well, I don't remember their concern during the Trump era.
I don't want to have a separate set of standards for Democrats, so I'm wrestling with this. I'm not quite sure what's wrong with someone who knows she'll be leaving her job looking for another one. This doesn't appear to be the usual access hire, because she's basically a rock star. She's fresh, intelligent, and witty.
She will probably be around for a long time.