Frustrated NBC News staffers have expressed opposition to network executives about MSNBC potentially hiring White House press secretary Jen Psaki, sources told CNN.
Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, held a phone call with staffers from the Washington Bureau Friday to address the matter after several employees claimed Psaki’s opinion commentary will diminish the network’s brand, CNN reported. The president reportedly assured his staffers that there is a distinction between straight reporting and opinion on the network’s programming.
The network’s president also told staffers that NBC News has not taken part in negotiating business deals with the press secretary, sources told CNN. He further noted that since the network’s executives do not oversee MSNBC, Psaki’s potential role will be disconnected from their network.
Oppenheim told his staffers to ignore the press secretary’s potential role and focus on their jobs as normal, sources said.
“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,” one staffer attending the call said, according to CNN.
“People wanted answers on what NBC’s role was in this and NBC News had no role in this,” another reportedly said. (REPORT: Four Major News Outlets In Front Row Of Briefing Room Are Looking To Hire Psaki)
Psaki is expected to host a show on MSNBC’s streaming platform, Peacock, after leaving her current role in public office around May, Axios first reported April 1. No contracts have been currently signed, allowing the press secretary to continue holding briefings.
CBS News White House correspondent Ed O’Keefe and Weekend Today co-chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker questioned Psaki on the ethics of negotiating with a privately owned media company from the podium. The press secretary answered she is working closely alongside the White House counsel’s office in order to abide by all ethical and legal requirements.
“I would say that, again, I have taken the ethical requirements very seriously and any discussions and any considerations about any future employment just as any White House official would and have taken steps beyond that to ensure there’s no conflicts,” she told reporters April 1.
Former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter recently told the Daily Caller it is “allowed and quite common” for press secretaries to negotiate with news companies, but suggests they do not have one-on-one phone conversations with the news entity.
Reports began circulating in late February that she planned on seeking employment at either MSNBC or CNN in late February, but brushed off the rumors when asked by Today News Africa reporter Simon Ateba.
“I have more than enough on my plate here and so you can’t get rid of me just yet,” she replied.
The press secretary first announced her plans to depart from the White House in May 2021 in order to spend more time with her two young children.