Saki rumours, Mulvaney haunt reporters at CBS News

NEW YORK (AP) — Recruiting non-journalists as contributors to television news organizations is nothing new. It is much less common for journalists working there to scoff at such decisions, as has been the case recently with CBS and NBC News.

Discontent emerged over discussions about CBS appointing former Trump administration official Mick Mulvaney as a commentator and Jen Psaki, the current White House press secretary who worked at MSNBC, after his time in the Biden administration had passed.

In both cases, journalists have been publicly silent about their concerns over the decisions. Because of concerns about Saki — which has raised ethical issues for the press secretary — NBC News president Noah Oppenheim was forced to address the discussion in a phone meeting with Washington-based staff, which was previously reported by CNN. had reported.

Mark Whitaker, a former executive at NBC News, CNN and Newsweek, said that although the two cases are separate, the fact that these internal complaints have surfaced reflects some of the pressure many journalists feel. He said he already operates in ultra-partisan times and faces charges of promoting “fake news”.

“It’s like ‘when we are under attack in any way, it makes our job harder,'” Whitaker said.

Each case is more complicated than rubbing elbows on a water cooler with a particulate.

Neither MSNBC nor Saki have publicly confirmed their talks about a role there. MSNBC has already hired Simone Sanders, the former chief spokeswoman for Vice President Kamala Harris, for the job beginning in May. NBC News has worked hard to differentiate between its reporters and MSNBC, which has broadened its opinion programming, although it is awkward when journalists such as Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd have shows on the cable network.

At least until the situation becomes clear, NBC News reporters are put in the uncomfortable position of having professional contact with someone who may soon turn out to be an ally.

NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked Psaki about her position at a recent White House briefing, “Is it ethical for you to conduct this job while conversing with media outlets?”

Without confirming or denying those talks, Saki said she has already run “over and over” the stringent ethical requirements. Welker twice followed up, “How can you be an effective briefer if you’re actually planning on joining a media outlet?”

Saki said he had taken steps to ensure there were no conflicts. While the situation is still in flux, CNN reported that it is not expected to conduct any on-camera interviews with NBC News or MSNBC personnel, and will not be involved in decisions to book administration officials at the network.

Oppenheim declined the opportunity to discuss the issue through a spokesperson.

CBS News said Mulvaney’s signing was part of building up the network’s roster of its contributors ahead of the 2022 midterm and 2024 presidential elections. News division co-president, Neeraj Khemlani, told a staff meeting ahead of the announcement that CBS is making sure it hires contributors who make sure the network doesn’t have a midterm election with executives from both parties. That meeting, according to a tape provided to the Washington Post.

In addition to internal murmurs, CBS News received external criticism; For example, after columnist Margaret Sullivan, destroyed the “victim cynic” of the move. A former congressman, Mulvaney served Trump as chief of staff, as well as as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

CBS had other like-minded outsiders as contributors, such as Trump’s former chief of staff Reince Priebus, and it recently announced the signing of former national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

However, Mulvaney was criticized for lying when he publicly acknowledged that Trump had withheld aid to Ukraine to pressure the country into investigating political opponents, then later suggested that he had not said so. . In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, he said the media was promoting the virus as a way to bring down Trump.

“Even in opinion journalism, respect for the facts is essential,” said Geneva Overholser, a veteran consultant who has worked at both the University of Missouri and the USC Annenberg journalism schools.

“I read the response from CBS employees as an attempt to hold onto that principle, to maintain the network’s respect,” she said. “More power to them.”

Khemlani was not made available for interview. CBS said that when Mulvaney appears as a commentator on political news, he will be accompanied by news anchors who can give context to his statements.

Since the March 29 announcement that he had been hired as a contributor, he once appeared on the network’s streaming service, but not yet on TV, a spokesperson said.

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