Failing cable news nets CNN and MSNBC poised for a bidding war over Psaki as their ratings savior
There is a certain symmetry to the notion that the spokesmouth for the failing Biden administration reportedly is being assiduously courted by the two failing cable news networks, CNN and MSNBC, both of which have endured near-catastrophic ratings declines in the era of Biden. More Biden cowbell...yeah, that's the ticket.
A scoop report by Dylan Byers, formerly of NBC and now the founding partner at media website Puck, gushes over Psaki and the reported talks she or her agent are having with the two networks. Earlier this month:
CNN interim co-president Amy Entelis and CNN+ programming lead Rebecca Kutler were in Washington for a top-secret and mission-critical recruitment assignment. The chaos embroiling their brand had not deterred their efforts to court a new potential on-air talent who, in their eyes, had the potential to become a marquee star both in the CNN lineup and its nascent streaming service.
They weren't the only ones to hatch this novel idea. Less than one week later, NBC News Chairman Cesar Conde and MSNBC President Rashida Jones made a similar pilgrimage to Washington to meet with the very same talent, in the hopes that she might one day join their networks in a flagship role, and perhaps even take the top spot in primetime on MSNBC. CNN may be reeling from the Zucker mess, but MSNBC is imperiled in its own way, as Rachel Maddow prepares to exit her nightly show, prompting a presumed top-down re-think of primetime.
The potential talent, of course, was Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary. In the last year, Psaki has achieved veritable celebrity status for her daily press briefings, which have restored sanity and professionalism to the office and earned her the adoration of the mainstream media, as well as a fervent following online. Psaki intends to leave the White House at some point this year and, according to sources familiar with her thinking, intends to go into television news — not as a contributor, but as a host.
"Sanity and professionalism" clearly are in the eye of the beholder. Psaki's job is to make the Biden administration look good and sell its performance to the American public. Let's see how she's been doing:
In fairness, she hasn't been given much to work with. The colorful, if vulgar, old American expression "polishing a turd" comes to mind. Surely it is not a coincidence that just as a bidding war for her services is about to break out, Psaki revealed:
... binge-watching "The West Wing" helped inspire her to get back into politics.
Psaki started watching the award-winning TV drama after leaving the Obama White House in 2011, feeling exhausted, she remarked during an appearance last week on actor Rob Lowe's "Literally!" podcast.
"I'm working at this consulting firm and I started watching 'The West Wing.' And I don't know what prompted me to watch it, but I watched, I binged, the entire thing," Psaki said.
That TV series presented an idealized version of a liberal Democrat president's White House, kind of Clinton-like without the sexual degeneracy and corruption. It's just the sort of happy, glamorous vision both CNN and MSNBC would see as more attractive to their viewers than the reality of a cognitively impaired president backed up by a hilariously incompetent veep they are stuck with — which, it turns out, is viewer repellant. Psaki is dangling a vision of comfort for the afflicted progressives as their policies put into action implode.
Psaki's timing could not be better. CNN is famously in chaos, its top-rated host and top two executives defenestrated in scandal, with a new owner about to take over, while MSNBC is about to lose the services of its top-rated on-air talent.
How big could Psaki's payday get? Rachel Maddow is reported to be getting $30 million a year for less work at Comcast-owned MSNBC, and I doubt that her concerns about income inequality in America would give her pause in accepting an offer in that ballpark. With two desperate bidders, she just might get such an offer. That's not bad for someone with the nickname "Peppermint Patty" for some reason.