Jen Psaki leaving the White House for MSNBC (Update)

Jen Psaki leaving the White House for MSNBC (Update)
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

It’s not official but only because signing contracts before you leave the government’s employ would violate ethics rules. Axios makes it clear this is a done deal minus the paperwork.

Psaki has been in close consultation with the White House counsel’s office about her departure, according to two sources familiar with the plans. She’s been treading carefully on the ethics and legal aspects of her plans.

  • No contracts have been signed. Government ethics rules have stipulations about how public employees can pursue private sector job opportunities while in office.
  • She’s also told some senior officials at the White House about her departure and her plans to join MSNBC, according to two sources…
  • Psaki is now in exclusive talks with MSNBC, and the deal is nearly final.

Last month there was speculation from Dylan Byers that Psaki was headed for MSNBC and might be replacing Rachel Maddow.

NBC News Chairman Cesar Conde and MSNBC President Rashida Jones made a similar pilgrimage to Washington to meet with the very same talent, in the hopes that she might one day join their networks in a flagship role, and perhaps even take the top spot in primetime on MSNBC. CNN may be reeling from the Zucker mess, but MSNBC is imperiled in its own way, as Rachel Maddow prepares to exit her nightly show, prompting a presumed top-down re-think of primetime.

Maddow went on a hiatus last month amid speculation she might be leaving MSNBC for good, possibly to form her own media company. But Axios reports she’s not taking the 9 pm slot, at least not yet. Her deal is said to be similar to the one given to Symone Sanders who has a new weekend show starting next month:

Her show, Symone, will air at 4 p.m. ET on Saturdays and Sunday, and will stream on Mondays and Tuesdays on MSNBC’s “hub” on Peacock…

Sanders departed Harris’ office in December, and MSNBC announced her now show the following month. She also will serve as a fill-in anchor on the network.

This seems to be the way MSNBC often operates, giving someone a weekend show and then moving them into the weekly rotation later on when they are a bit more seasoned. That’s what happened with Joy Reid who had a weekend show, “AM Joy,” before she moved into the nightly 7 pm slot vacated by Chris Matthews.

Speaking of Joy Reid, there was a claim made by a former Mediaite and IJR reporter that Reid was going to be losing her 7 pm gig in mid-spring, which would be sometime this month. I haven’t seen anything about that since. I guess we’ll have to wait to circle back to this topic to see if Sanders or Psaki wind up in that slot later this year.

Update: Psaki was asked about this report today and whether it’s ethical of her to continue her job while negotiating with a network for a new one.

To her credit, NBC’s reporter in the room pressed Psaki on this.

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