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Jen Psaki plans to leave White House for MSNBC

She will follow the path into television taken by many other presidential press secretaries

White House press secretary Jen Psaki last month. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
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White House press secretary Jen Psaki plans to leave the Biden administration in coming weeks and is expected to take a new on-air position at the left-leaning cable news network MSNBC, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

While Psaki is in advanced discussions to join the network, the deal has not been signed, and MSNBC declined to comment about the matter Friday.

On April 1, press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the rumors about her departure from the White House to join MSNBC. (Video: The Washington Post)

Psaki is expected to join the network later this spring and will also host a streaming show for the NBCUniversal platform Peacock. Her role will be similar to that of the former chief spokeswoman for Vice President Harris, Symone Sanders, who will be hosting a streaming show and also a traditional television show on the weekends. Sanders’s show, “Symone,” will air at 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays on MSNBC starting in May.

A White House official did not comment on Psaki’s plans but said that she continues working on behalf of President Biden and his administration.

Asked during her press briefing on Friday afternoon about the reports of her joining MSNBC, Psaki replied, “You can’t get rid of me yet. I have nothing to confirm about my length of public service, or planned service, or anything about consideration about next plans."

When questioned about whether it would be “ethical” for Psaki to serve as White House press secretary while negotiating with a media company about a future job, she said, “I have always gone over and above the stringent ethical and legal requirements of the Biden administration. And I take that very seriously.” She said that she has received ethics counseling “as it relates to any future employment" and has recused herself on matters “as appropriate.”

Psaki is a cable news veteran, having worked as a paid commentator for CNN before joining the Biden administration.

The website Puck reported in late February that Psaki had met with executives from CNN and MSNBC about potential post-White House jobs. During a Feb. 25 press briefing, Psaki was asked whether she planned to leave the administration for a television job. “I have more than enough on my plate here,” she said. “So, you can’t get rid of me quite yet.” Axios first reported Psaki’s plans to join MSNBC.

MSNBC’s programming on Peacock is central to a broader network — and industry-wide — pivot to streaming programming as more Americans stop paying for traditional cable subscriptions. The network already has streaming shows on Peacock hosted by political commentators Mehdi Hasan and Zerlina Maxwell. On Tuesday, CNN launched CNN Plus, a subscription streaming service that costs about $6 per month and represents the network’s largest investment in new programming and formats in decades.

It is not clear who will replace Psaki as White House press secretary, but her deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre, would probably be considered a top contender. Before joining the Biden administration, Jean-Pierre worked as a paid commentator on MSNBC.

There’s a long tradition of White House press secretaries moving to broadcasting. MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace served as communications director for President George W. Bush, and Fox News employs former White House press secretaries Dana Perino, Ari Fleischer and Kayleigh McEnany.

Tyler Pager contributed to this report.

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