NBC News staffers are reportedly upset by the network’s decision to hire White House secretary Jen Psaki for MSNBC — fearing her appointment could tarnish the brand.
Disgruntled DC bureau workers complained to their bosses that the high-profile hire could taint their credibility, CNN reported.
The concern forced the Peacock network’s president, Noah Oppenheim, to make an impromptu phone call with the worried bureau Friday, distancing NBC News from MSNBC.
Oppenheim, who does not oversee MSNBC, assured the team that NBC News did not play a role in Psaki’s appointment, the outlet said.
“Here’s what he was saying: They have perspective programming. This was done on the perspective programming side. Not anything that reflects on NBC News,” one of the staffers who was on the call told CNN.
“People wanted answers on what NBC’s role was in this and NBC News had no role in this. This is MSNBC’s perspective programming,” the person added.
The call came on the same day Axios reported that Psaki will soon leave her White House gig.
But Psaki has stayed mum on the report, telling reporters “you can’t get rid of me yet,” before adding that “I have nothing to confirm about my length of public service or planned service, or anything about consideration about next plans.”
According to Axios, Psaki was in exclusive talks with the cable network and has been in close consultation with the White House counsel’s office about her pending departure.
On Friday, several reporters — including NBC News’ own Kristen Welker — pressed Psaki on how she could remain as President Biden’s chief spokesperson while negotiating a salary with a media outlet.
“I have always gone over and above the stringent ethical and legal requirements of the Biden administration and I take that very seriously,” Psaki responded.
“And as a standard for every employee of the White House, I have received rigorous ethics counseling, including as it relates to any future employment,” she added.
The tentative deal would place Psaki as the host of a show on NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock. She would also be a part of MSNBC’s live cable programming on various shows, according to Axios.
In his call, Oppenheim urged his staff to ignore the noise surrounding Psaki’s hire and to continue working as usual, the sources told CNN.
Psaki declined to comment to CNN on Wednesday. A spokesman for NBC News and MSNBC also declined to comment.
But a White House official previously told the cable network that Psaki had recused herself from interviews on NBC News and MSNBC.