It's unethical for Psaki to talk to MSNBC about a job while fielding questions from them as press secretary

“Now that this is out there, I don’t know how you stay on another day and continue taking questions from your new employer,” said Rory Cooper this morning about Jen Psaki’s imminent career change.


I agree. You know who else agrees? NBC.

Watch the exchange. Ed O’Keefe of CBS gets to the subject before Welker does, but Welker keeps after her:

We have strict ethical rules at the White House and I’ve been careful to consult with the White House counsel’s office about them, Psaki says — without specifying what those rules are or directly answering Welker’s question.

How strict can the rules be if they allow her to secretly negotiate with an outlet represented in the briefing room while pretending to operate at arm’s length from them during the daily briefings?

The loophole through which this absurd arrangement appears to have been deemed “ethical” is the fact that nothing has been formalized on paper yet. Psaki and NBC have signed no contracts, ergo there’s no conflict of interest in her continuing to serve as press secretary. Supposedly.


But that’s idiotic. Whether the contract’s been signed or not, the deal seems to be all but done informally. If anything, the fact that NBC hasn’t committed yet gives Psaki an added incentive not to cross them from the White House podium. If she does, they could walk and take a bunch of money with them.

I’d say that Biden should fire her but he’s not going to overrule his own White House counsel in deeming the arrangement inappropriate. The proper move is for Psaki to quit. Immediately. Like, tonight.

Why does she want to participate in a “dying” medium anyway?

On the Feb. 18 episode of Literally! With Rob Lowe, Lowe said, “The minute the news media became ratings driven, emotion and conflict drive story, story drives ratings, so that squeezes out rational discourse and everybody now gets the news that they want to get.”

“Yeah,” said Psaki. “You know, I think there’s such an interesting — so I’m going to give you an optimistic view on this right now, which is — cable news is dying, right? The ratings are dwindling, right? And there’s dwindling readership as well of a lot of national newspapers.”

Psaki expressed her hope that streaming news platforms will be “a form for creating a range of content that is informative” rather than driven by ratings and “Democrats and Republicans yelling at each other on a set.”


The NBC deal reportedly entails her hosting shows on both MSNBC and the network’s new streaming platform, which may have been what lured her. But making a career move to a streaming platform for news seems … ill-advised, unless that platform has a fervent ideological base ravenous for propaganda. And while MSNBC does have that, Psaki’s not known for delivering the sort of red meat activists crave. She’s not a bombthrower. Her skill is evading questions, not firing up partisans.

I mean, are they really thinking of plugging someone like that in for Maddow at 9, in the heart of cable news’s “political id” primetime?

This will end in tears but it’ll also end with Jen Psaki being rich. So she can afford to miss her next few White House paychecks by resigning immediately, no?

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