NBC News journalists are troubled by and have expressed dismay to network executives about MSNBC’s intention to hire White House press secretary Jen Psaki when she exits the Biden administration, people familiar with the matter told CNN.
Noah Oppenheim, the NBC News president, even held an impromptu phone call Friday so that he could address the matter with vexed staffers from the Washington bureau, some of whom have complained to their superiors that the tentative hiring tarnishes the NBC News brand.
Oppenheim, attempting to quell the anger, reaffirmed the distinction on the call between NBC News and MSNBC’s opinion programming, some of the people familiar with the matter said.
Oppenheim, who does not oversee MSNBC, told the journalists that NBC News did not have a role in hiring Psaki. And he noted to those on the phone that they work for the NBC News brand and that the hires made for MSNBC’s opinion arm should be viewed as unrelated to their work, the people 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 of the people, who was on the call, explained.
“People wanted answers on 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 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.