News and Analysis

Jen Psaki To Leave White House, Join MSNBC: Report
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 10: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks to reporters in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on December 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki expanded on President Joe Biden's remarks about the economy and his belief that consumer prices and other costs will be going down as inflation eases next year.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Jen Psaki may be circling back to liberal cable news.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki will leave her role in the Biden administration to join MSNBC later this spring, according to a report at Axios.

“Psaki has been in close consultation with the White House counsel’s office about her departure, according to two sources familiar with the plans,” reports the news outlet, which first broke the news Friday morning. “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 confirmed whether she will be joining MSNBC.

The move comes as another setback to CNN, where Psaki worked as a political commentator from 2017 until after the 2020 election. Both MSNBC and CNN had been courting the 43-year-old spin artist, according to a story published last month in The article mentioned Psaki may help MSNBC avoid the “near-existential crisis” created by the departure of its top-rated host, Rachel Maddow, who announced she would be throttling down her involvement with the network and producing occasional documentaries.

“Psaki has ambitions to become a marquee star,” added author Dylan Byers. MSNBC’s significantly higher ratings, both cumulatively and among the coveted demographic of young people aged 18 to 34, would better accomplish that.

Jen Psaki has won a sizable following among MSNBC’s target demographic with the way she forcefully shuts down uncomfortable questions during the daily White House press briefings, a tactic her supporters call a “Psaki bomb.” Members of the White House press corps have said that Psaki has screened their questions in advance, which would, presumably, allow her to carefully craft her devastating retorts — a skill that has seen her regularly go viral.

Some speculated Psaki could plug the hole Left in the Left-wing network’s ratings.

Psaki’s “current role requires her to explain complicated matters of politics and policy and debunk falsehoods—which is not dissimilar from the job Maddow has created for herself at 9 p.m., where she typically punctures G.O.P. talking points and spends entire segments circuitously arriving at a point,” wrote Byers at Puck News.

Axios seemed to dispel that notion, reporting Friday that Psaki will not replace Maddow, whose 9 p.m. slot has been filled by a rotation of guest hosts. Instead, Psaki will host her own, as-yet unnamed program on Peacock, the streaming platform of MSNBC/NBCUniversal.

Further details of her involvement with MSNBC remain unclear, as Psaki has reportedly not signed any contract due to her current status as a government employee. Job negotiations by federal employees fall subject to numerous ethical provisions. Psaki has “been treading carefully on the ethics and legal aspects of her plans,” Axios reported.

Psaki’s deal, if it holds up, may be akin to that hammered out by former Kamala Harris spokeswoman Symone Sanders. After joining numerous employees in leaving the vice president’s office, Sanders scored her own weekend show, “Symone,” which will air on MSNBC’s weekend schedule before streaming on Peacock the next week, according to Deadline.

Both Sanders and Psaki represent the continual revolving door between politics — especially Democratic politics — and the legacy media. MSNBC’s lineup includes former Congressman Joe Scarborough, former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton, and NeverTrump Republican campaign strategist Nicolle Wallace, among other former political hands.

Psaki’s departure, if it occurs, would show tight discipline by the White House spokesperson, who told former Obama adviser David Axelrod last May 6 that she planned to leave the Biden administration in “about a year.”


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