Apr 1, 2022 - Economy

Scoop: Jen Psaki planning to leave White House this spring for MSNBC gig

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki is in exclusive talks with MSNBC to join the network after she leaves the White House around May, according to a source close to the matter.

Why it matters: It's been speculated for weeks that Psaki would leave the White House for a TV gig. White House communications staffers often negotiate TV jobs once they leave an administration.

Details: 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 has not yet formally told the White House press team about her departure, an administration source tells Axios.
  • MSNBC has been working with its compliance lawyers to make sure their conversations didn't violate any government regulations, according to a source close to the matter.
  • Psaki is now in exclusive talks with MSNBC, and the deal is nearly final. It was reported by Puck last month that Psaki also had conversations with CNN and that other networks had expressed interest in signing her.

Psaki will host a show for MSNBC on NBCUniversal's streaming platform, Peacock.

  • She will also be a part of live programming on MSNBC's cable network as a voice on different shows, but she will not be hosting the 9 p.m. hour replacing Rachel Maddow, which has been speculated.

Between the lines: Psaki's deal is similar to that of Symone Sanders, a former adviser and senior spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris.

  • Sanders signed an exclusive deal with MSNBC in January to host a show on Peacock and to participate in live programming on MSNBC.
  • Her new show, called Symone, will air at 4 p.m. ET on weekends on MSNBC and will stream on Mondays and Tuesdays on Peacock, per Deadline.

The big picture: The streaming era has afforded networks more opportunities to poach top talent and give them their own shows.

  • NBC News in particular has several outlets for talent looking to host their own programs. In addition to MSNBC's hub on Peacock, it also has a 24/7 news streaming network called NBC News Now.

Political spokespeople are often prime targets for cable networks, whose audiences tend to be political junkies.

  • Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany joined Fox News as a commentator last March. Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer has his own show on Newsmax.
  • Former Bush administration official Nicolle Wallace hosts a show on MSNBC.
  • CBS News recently signed former Trump administration official Mick Mulvaney as a paid on-air contributor.

Disclosure note: NBC is an investor in Axios and Satpal Brainch, president of CNBC Business News Worldwide, is a member of the Axios board. MSNBC & Axios engage in a weekday sponsored television appearance at 5:55am ET.

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