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At the Friday press briefing, CBS News’ Ed O’Keefe and NBC News’ Kristen Welker asked her about reports that she will soon depart to take a role at MSNBC.
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“How can you be an effective briefer if you do in fact have plans to join a media outlet?” Welker asked.
Psaki declined to announce her plans, but said that “I have taken the ethics, legal requirements …very seriously in any discussions and in any considerations about future employment just as any White House official would. And I have taken steps beyond that to ensure there’s no conflicts.”
Psaki returned to the briefing after being absent since last week, when she tested positive for Covid.
Welker again press Psaki on the issue.
“How is it ethical to have these conversations with media outlets while continue to have a job standing behind that podium?”
Psaki answered, “Well, there are a range of stringent ethical and legal requirements that are imposed on everybody in this administration and any administrations past about any conversations you are having with future employers. That is true of any industry you are working in, and I have abided by those and have tried to take steps that go beyond that as well.”
Psaki did not confirm the reports, but she didn’t deny them either. “I’m very happy to be standing with all of you here today after it felt like a neverending endless time in my basement quaratining away from my family. Believe it or not I missed you all a lot.”
PREVIOUSLY: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki plans to leave her position and take an on-air role at MSNBC.
A source confirmed Psaki’s plans, which include hosting a show on the network’s streaming platform on Peacock and appear on the cable news network.
Psaki did not immediately respond to a request for comment. She has been absent from this week’s briefings after she tested positive for Covid, but was scheduled to return on Friday.
A White House official said, “We don’t have anything to confirm about Jen’s length of planned service or any consideration about future plans. Jen is here and working hard every day on behalf of the President to get you the answers to the questions that you have, and that’s where her focus is.”
Axios first reported the news of Psaki’s new gig. No deal has been finalized.
Psaki reportedly had been talking to a number of networks about her next career move following her tenure at the White House. Her departure has been expected: She had said last year that she planned to leave her position in 2022.
She’ll follow a line of former White House officials who have pursued on air roles following their tenures. Symone Sanders, who was chief spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, joined MSNBC and also will host a show on its streaming platform, called The Choice on MSNBC. Her show, Symone, also will appear on MSNBC’s weekend schedule. Nicolle Wallace, who hosts Deadline: White House on MSNBC, was communications director for President George W. Bush.
CBS News recently announced the hiring of Mick Mulvaney, the former acting chief of staff to Donald Trump, as a paid contributor. Fox News has hired figures such as Kayleigh McEnany, Trump’s former press secretary, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The White House-to-news network revolving door isn’t new. George Stephanopoulos, one of the star anchors at ABC News, was previously communications director for President Bill Clinton. John F. Kennedy’s press secretary, Pierre Salinger, later become a foreign affairs correspondent for ABC.
As press secretary, Psaki brought back regular, almost daily briefings, after they disappeared for a point during Trump’s term, and she has been known for some of her sharp retorts in responding to some reporters’ questions. Particularly notable have been her interactions with Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy. Although they have engaged in some sharp exchanges, they have been far from the acrimony in the briefing room between administration figures and the press during the Trump years.
Before Joe Biden took office, Psaki was a political commentator for CNN.
MSNBC has been building its roster as it builds up its streaming offerings, but it also may have a significant hole to fill on its schedule. Rachel Maddow reportedly wants to scale back the schedule of her primetime show and is currently in the midst of a hiatus.
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