NEW YORK — Seven months into her new television career, it’s clear Jen Psaki didn’t sign with MSNBC just to dabble in media.
The former White House press secretary was up early Monday to appear on “Morning Joe” at 6 a.m. and spoke with Lawrence O’Donnell on “Last Word” 16 hours later. In between, she recorded an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” on CBS.
She has a new show to promote — her Sunday series Inside with Jen Psaki premieres this weekend — but that doesn’t fully explain her busy schedule.
“When I look at Jen and her potential, she’s absolutely a huge part of our future,” said MSNBC President Rashida Jones. “You’ve already seen that.”
The network is banking on Psaki and her popularity with MSNBC’s liberal audience. She has taken a seat at the presenter’s podium at major events such as midterm election night and her former boss’s State of the Union address, and appears frequently on everyday shows.
She will write a regular column for the network’s morning newsletter and is developing a show to be written for the Peacock streaming service.
As she has reached the pinnacle of her career so far, there seems less chance that she will become one of those figures who jump back and forth between politics and the media.
Psaki, who was US State Department spokeswoman and Barack Obama’s last White House communications director from 2013 to 2015 before serving President Joe Biden, said she considers herself retired from the world of political and government communications.
“I don’t look in the rearview mirror,” she said.
She has focused on learning new skills, such as reading a teleprompter. Her previous jobs indicated that she enjoyed speaking on camera; Jones has watched closely as an interviewer to successfully drive a conversation forward.
Filibustering skills are less valued in her new job.
“I also learned how to keep track of time,” Psaki said, “which sounds weird, but turns out you can’t just keep talking because you cut off the word and have to end the show.”
Her new program, which airs at 12 p.m. Eastern Time, puts Psaki in the company of long-running Sunday public shows like “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation.”
In this area, you’re expected to have guests who can be pushed to produce news, not just the commentary that clogs many hours of cable news.
“I think it’s going to be a place where people want to come and make news,” Jones said. “Jen has a way about her that makes people want to start a conversation with her, and I think that’s going to be a goal, not just for the top guests and newsmakers, but for our audience as well.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams will be the first “Inside” guest on Weekend Routine, which Psaki plans to be a regular feature to meet a newsmaker in a less formal setting. She rides the subway with him and he makes them a smoothie at the Gracie Mansion and answers questions about politics, immigration and crime.
In a future episode, she goes record hunting with 26-year-old US Rep. Maxwell Frost from Florida.
In another planned segment, Don’t Freak Out, Psaki uses her political experience to explain why some stories aren’t as big as they seem. “There’s often a perception that everything is a five-alarm fire, and it’s not,” she said.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are also guests on their first show.
To make herself a real player in Sunday morning journalism, Psaki needs more than just Democrats to perform. Psaki said she hopes her background in explaining national security issues will make it convenient for Republicans who want to speak about these issues, for example on her show.
She won’t just interview people she agrees with “because I don’t find that very interesting,” she said.
Despite standing at a White House lectern defending President Joe Biden, Psaki said she understands that is no longer her role now that she is with MSNBC.
“I’ve made it clear when I think some things could have been handled better,” she said. “I won’t shy away from that. Nor will I shy away from the fact that I was proud to work for President Biden, proud to work for President Obama and Secretary of State (John) Kerry.”
Source : www.washingtontimes.com