According to Puck News’s Dylan Byers on Wednesday, a real Psaki Show could soon become a reality as CNN and MSNBC have been jockeying to hire the current White House press secretary as a full-time host (and not as a commentator, like she did from 2017 to 2020 at CNN).
Byers — formerly of NBCNews.com and the CNN Media team — wrote that, “earlier this month,” Psaki had respective lunch meetings with “CNN interim co-president Amy Entelis and CNN+ programming lead Rebecca Kutler” and then “NBC News Chairman Cesar Conde and MSNBC President Rashida Jones.”
For CNN, they’re hoping to nab “a marquee star” amidst chaos within the company. As for MSNBC, they’re aiming to find someone to fill the void that’ll be left by Rachel Maddow.
Noting that “the industry needs her more” even though “Psaki wants to be on TV” when she leaves the White House this year, Byers said “Psaki has achieved veritable celebrity status for her daily press briefings,” gushing that she’s “restored sanity and professionalism to the office and earned her the adoration of the mainstream media, as well as a fervent following online.”
Byers gave syrupy praise for Psaki, trumpeting how NBC’s “Saturday Night Live doesn’t know how to make fun of her” as she possesses “the combination of West Wing bona fides and telegenic charm that allowed George Stephanopolous to pave the road from the White House comms shop to the broadcast booth some two-and-a-half decades ago, and Nicolle Wallace more recently.”
Of course, Byers left out the affable and widely-respected Dana Perino of Fox News.
Speaking of Republican press secretaries, Byers boasted that “many of whom credit her with restoring dignity to a lectern that had been ravaged and abused by Sean Spicer, Sarah Sanders and Kayleigh McEnany. And her daily briefing has become appointment viewing for fans who eagerly await her pithy retorts to reporters[.]”
He added that both networks hope she can help reverse “severe post-Trump ratings declines” and a “desperate need” for “new marquee talent” and, if she went with MSNBC, Byers spun that she could follow Maddow’s mold of “debunk[ing] falsehoods” and “punctur[ing] G.O.P. talking points.”
On Friday afternoon, Today News Africa’s Simon Ateba asked Psaki about the report, to which she replied with a nod to Fox’s Peter Doocy: “I have more than enough on my plate here and so, you can't get rid of me quite yet. Sorry, Peter, for you on that.”
And on Sunday’s MediaBuzz, FNC host Howard Kurtz said in a 31-second brief that “while Psaki is obviously a strong partisan on President Biden's behalf, she has an upbeat style and gets along with the press.”
“I'd say CNN has an edge because she was a contributor there and while she made the liberal case, she once told me she was friendly with such Republicans as Rick Santorum,” he added.
To see the relevant transcripts from February 25 and 27, click “expand.”
White House press briefing
February 25, 2022
4:27 p.m. Eastern
SIMON ATEBA: Can you confirm that you are looking for a job at CNN or MSNBC?
JEN PSAKI: Uh — I have more than enough on my plate here and so, you can't get rid of me quite yet. Sorry, Peter, for you on that. And so, I will see you all on Monday.
February 27, 2022
11:54 a.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Jen Psaki, Talk Show Host? CNN, MSNBC Pursuing Press Secretary]
HOWARD KURTZ: Jen Psaki — who’s become a certified celebrity as White House press secretary and expected to leave this year — is being courted by CNN and MSNBC as a talk show host. There have been lunches, also according to Puck news and while Psaki is obviously a strong partisan on President Biden's behalf, she has an upbeat style and gets along with the press. I'd say CNN has an edge because she was a contributor there and while she made the liberal case, she once told me she was friendly with such Republicans as Rick Santorum. Psaki says for now she's still busy at the White House.