White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Grilled Amid Reports of Her Joining MSNBC

The departure, first reported by Axios, citing anonymous sources "close to the matter", is expected to happen this spring.

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Joe Biden's Press Secretary Jen Psaki was grilled by reporters on Friday amid reports that she is planning to leave White House to take up a new role of host and on-air expert at MSNBC. The departure, first reported by Axios, citing anonymous sources "close to the matter", is expected to happen this spring.

Other outlets said they had confirmed the news, and reported that Psaki, 43, was expected to stay through the end of April. While Psaki's exit will be major move by a White House official under the Biden administration, decision to join a television network doesn't come as a surprise as White House communications staffers often negotiate TV jobs once they leave an administration.

Wind of Change

Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki YouTube Grab

According to Axios, Psaki will host a show for NBCUniversal's streaming platform, Peacock. She had also been in talks with CNN and other networks, according to reports. However, Psaki, a champion swimmer, refused to confirm the news on Friday for which she was grilled by reporters.

The outlet further reported that Psaki was "treading carefully on the ethics and legal aspects of her plans." She has not yet signed an agreement but was set to host a show on the Peacock streaming service and contribute as a pundit elsewhere.

Also, Fox News White House Correspondent Jacqui Heinrich confirmed that Psaki will depart the White House for MSNBC, stating that the network beat CNN in a bidding battle, but no deal has been inked yet.

Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki YouTube Grab

However, Psaki remains tightlipped about her departure. "You can't get rid of me yet," Psaki told the first reporter to ask about her departure. "I have nothing to confirm about my length of public service or planned service ... my focus every day continues to be speaking on behalf of the president."

Big Move

Axios also reported that contrary to rumors, Psaki will not take the position of Rachel Maddow, the leftist network's biggest personality, in the 9 pm weekday hour. Instead, she will be in-charge of another show.

Jen Psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki l Twitter

MSNBC is also yet to comment on the development. A White House official said: "Jen is here and working hard every day on behalf of the president to get you the answers to the questions that you have, and that's where her focus is."

However, following the news of Psaki's departure, several media outlets reported that the deputy White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, and the communications director, Kate Bedingfield, were her prospective successors.

Since the start of the Biden presidency, Psaki has held nearly daily briefings and has been hailed for her openness. She had said she would only stay in her job for a year, but a series of overlapping crises — the coronavirus epidemic, the departure from Afghanistan, and, most recently, the crisis in Ukraine — appear to have lengthened her stay.

Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki Twitter

Psaki was asked if it was ethical to negotiate a shift to an outlet where she continues to speak on behalf of the president. "Well, I have always gone over and above the stringent ethical and legal requirements of the Biden administration and I take that very seriously," she replied.

She also said: "At whatever time I leave the White House, I can promise you the first thing I'm going to do is sleep and spend time with my three- and six-year-old, who are my most important audiences of all."

Psaki was a member of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and then his White House press team. She became White House communications director after serving as a spokesman for the State Department.

She joined CNN as a pundit after Donald Trump was elected president. She stated when she returned to the White House in January 2021 that she planned to serve for Biden for no more than a year.