After weeks of newsroom speculation, White House press secretary Jen Psaki will join MSNBC as an on-air analyst, according to Axios. She is expected to leave the White House around May of this year for the new role.
At a glance
- White House press secretary Jen Psaki will likely leave her position in order to pursue a career in television in May
- Psaki is in exclusive talks with MSNBC for a hosting gig that spans both cable and streaming
- Broadcast networks can lure more political talent towards television thanks to the streaming generation
Psaki has not officially signed a television contract, but she is in exclusive talks with the daily news network, sources say. White House communications officers often negotiate television deals upon resigning an administration, so Psaki’s departure and future plans are nothing new for the industry.
Though her plans have remained an open secret in media circles for weeks, Psaki had to tread lightly. The ethical and legal aspects of her plans could have caused concerns for the Biden administration. For instance, government ethics laws have stipulations about how public employees can pursue private sector job opportunities while in office.
According to sources within the White House, Psaki has informed some senior officials within the Biden administration of her plans to exit next month; but she has not yet formally told the White House press team about her departure. MSNBC reportedly also worked with compliance lawyers to guarantee all correspondence with Jen Psaki avoided regulatory pitfalls.
Some other media sources have reported that Psaki spoke with multiple news companies during the interview process, including CNN and others. Sources seem sure that the press secretary is exclusively negotiating with MSNBC at this point, however.
Jen Psaki will not take over Rachel Maddow’s coveted time slot for MSNBC
Though no plans are finalized, Psaki will likely host a show for MSNBC, which will also stream on NBCUniversal’s Peacock Network. Some insiders speculated that she could replace Rachel Maddow in the 9 p.m. slot, but that now seems unlikely. She will, however, contribute to multiple live programming slots as an analyst and comprehensive voice.
Psaki’s deal comes on the heels of another Biden administration staffer leaving politics for television. Symone Sanders, a former adviser and senior spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, left Capitol Hill for MSNBC in January. Sanders signed an exclusive deal with the network two months ago to host a show on Peacock and to participate in live programming, as well. Her show, Symone, will air on weekends for MSNBC and stream on Peacock the following Monday and Tuesday.
The addition of streaming services has given major broadcast networks more flexibility in luring top on-air talent. On conventional television, only a few hosts can feasibly carve out audiences during the 24-hour rotating time slots. With streaming, though, networks can create as many shows as desired; and let audiences pick and choose which voices they like most from week to week.
NBC News in particular has invested in several outlets for hosting news programs. In addition to MSNBC’s hub on Peacock, the network also owns a 24/7 news streaming network called NBC News Now.