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Jen Psaki: NBC News reporters upset over MSNBC’s decision to hire White House press secretary

Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, even held an impromptu phone call on Friday so he could raise the matter with upset staffers in the Washington bureau, some of whom complained to their superiors that the interim hire is tarnishing the NBC News brand.

Oppenheim, attempting to assuage anger, reaffirmed the distinction on the call between NBC News and MSNBC’s opinion programming, some people familiar with the matter said.

Oppenheim, who does not oversee MSNBC, told reporters that NBC News had no role in hiring Psaki. And he noted to those on the phone that they worked for the NBC News brand and that hires made for MSNBC’s opinion arm should be considered unrelated to their work, the people said.

“Here’s what he said: They have perspective programming. It was done on the perspective programming side. Nothing that reflects on NBC News,” one of the attendees explained. call.

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

It is not uncommon for politicians and government officials to sign deals with news outlets when they leave office. But PSAki’s tentative deal with MSNBC has left staffers unsettled as news of negotiations between her and the network came while she was still in her job as White House press secretary.

Additionally, instead of hiring Psaki in the more typical post-White House role of a political analyst offering opinion and analysis on another person’s agenda, MSNBC intends to she will host a show that will air on her Peacock platform.

Oppenheim told reporters on the call that he had made a point of ignoring the noise surrounding the hiring of Psaki and continuing to do their jobs as normal, the people who spoke to CNN told CNN.

Kristen Welker, chief White House correspondent for NBC News, did just that later that day. She repeatedly pressed Psaki about the ethics of her plan to host an MSNBC show while continuing to serve as publicist.

Oppenheim’s call, however, did not completely eliminate the frustration of NBC News reporters, the people who spoke to CNN said.

As first reported by Puck, Psaki has engaged in talks with several television outlets, including CNN, about potential jobs she could take after leaving the White House. Although she hasn’t officially signed a contract with MSNBC, talks with the network are at an advanced stage and the two parties essentially have a handshake agreement.

PSAKI declined to comment on Wednesday. But a White House official previously told CNN she recused herself from interviews on NBC News and MSNBC.

A spokesperson for NBC News and MSNBC declined to comment.

The drama surrounding the hiring of Psaki exposed a larger issue at play at the NBC Universal News Group: a rift between NBC News and MSNBC that is widening again.

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

Some NBC News reporters were initially bothered when MSNBC announced it had hired Symone Sanders, the former senior spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, to host a weekend show, people have said. close to the file.

And NBC News reporters watched closely as MSNBC pored over shows that prioritize commentary and perspective over those that emphasize current affairs reporting since Rashida Jones took over as network president there. a little over a year old.

Jones replaced the 9 a.m. show with an extra hour of “Morning Joe” and filled the 11 p.m. hour, formerly occupied by Brian Williams, with Stephanie Ruhle. While Williams offered her outlook to MSNBC, Ruhle is more blunt in sharing her opinion.

“Rashida makes no apologies for what she is doing with MSNBC,” an MSNBC staffer told CNN. “She was clear about the direction of the network.”

Nonetheless, Jones’ decisions have placed NBC News reporters who host shows on MSNBC in an awkward position.

On the one hand, reporters such as Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell, Hallie Jackson and others report to NBC News bosses. But on the other hand, they also host shows on MSNBC, which means that – enough or not – the actions of the cable news network end up reflecting on them.

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

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