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Is the White House Press Secretary Job a Stepping Stone to a Bigger Media Gig?

Marion Charatan

Posted on April 5, 2022 13:02

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It sure looks that way. Take a look at George Stephanopoulos on ABC's Good Morning America and the latest POTUS Press Sec Jen Psaki -- who could be on her way to MSNBC soon.

Being a White House Press Secretary has got to be one of the highest stress jobs around. You are subject to the scrutiny of your colleagues in the press in addition to hatred from supporters on the other side of the political spectrum -- depending on your party affiliation. It takes a thick skin and resilience. It is no surprise that many in the position do not last long.

The latest casualty of the White House Press Office will be Jen Psaki, the 34th Press Secretary to POTUS Joe Biden. The red-headed 43-year-old is a familiar face in the Oval Office. She served as the White House Communications Director (2015–2017), the spokesperson for the US Department of State (2013–2015), and Deputy Press Secretary under former President Barack Obama (2009). You might also remember Psaki from doing political commentary on CNN from 2017 to 2020.

Psaki is being courted by MSNBC and CNN to host shows. On April Fool's Day, Psaki said she would neither confirm nor deny reports of a potential move to TV -- or if she was winding down her duties with President Biden. In her typically direct tone, Psaki told reporters from home, where she was quarantined after recovering from a second bout of Covid, “I have nothing to confirm about my length of public service or planned service or anything about consideration about next plans."

She maintains her focus on working as the spokesperson for the President. Psaki countered scrutiny on whether it is ethical to negotiate TV contracts while serving in her post, by emphasizing she abides by all legal requirements. The woman Ted Cruz compared to Peanuts' Peppermint Patty can hold her own.

White House Press Secretaries have a high turnover. The job is way too demanding: a constant barrage of criticism would get to anyone. During his eight years as President, Barack Obama had three during his tenure-- Robert Gibbs, Jay Carney, and Josh Earnest, while President Donald Trump had four in his one-term presidency (Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Stephanie Grisham, and Kayleigh McEnany). Talk about an Oval Office revolving door!

Despite current denials, Psaki confirmed last year that she intended to resign as Press Secretary in 2022, so it is a matter of time to see where she lands. There have been some talks that she could be in the running to take over former MSNBC Rachel Maddow's daily show -- or have a similar program developed for her. Psaki has indicated that her decision to change jobs is tied in with family responsibilities: the married journalist has two young children. 

A possible move to MSNBC is not supported by fellow journalists at the news channel; some believe hiring the current Press Secretary would 'tarnish' the NBC brand. But it is very common for government officials/journalists to sign news deals when they change jobs -- look at George Stephanopoulos, host of Good Morning America, who was a former White House Communications Director. Casting Psaki could increase ratings.

Marion Charatan

Posted on April 5, 2022 13:02

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Source: NYT

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