February 24, 2022

With her cool demeanor and quick-on-her-feet thinking, Jen Psaki has earned rave reviews for her job as White House press secretary. Even Chris Wallace, back when he was still with Fox News, called her “one of the best press secretaries ever.”

The good news for the Biden administration is how good she has been in that role. The bad news is she eventually is expected to leave. Some are surprised she’s still there because it was never supposed to be a long-term thing.

So what’s next for Psaki if and when she decides to leave the White House?

Puck’s Dylan Byers asks a very intriguing question:

“Is Jen Psaki the next Rachel Maddow?”

Psaki is believed to be moving closer to an exit from the White House. And Maddow, the MSNBC prime-time host, is expected to eventually leave her nightly show to do other projects for NBCUniversal. In fact, she’s taking time away from her show right now to work on a film adaptation of her podcast about the 1970s scandal involving former Vice President Spiro Agnew.

If — or should I say when — Psaki leaves the White House, she surely will be courted by TV. And it appears that courting has already begun.

Byers reports Psaki has taken lunch meetings lately with CNN and MSNBC executives and that those meetings have included her agent, Jay Sures. Byers went on to say ABC News and CBS News are interested in Psaki, as well.

Byers wrote, “Psaki’s appeal to the cable and broadcast networks is obvious. She is a political celebrity, with the combination of West Wing bona fides and telegenic charm that allowed George Stephanopolous to pave the road from the White House comms shop to the broadcast booth some two-and-a-half decades ago, and Nicolle Wallace more recently. She’s widely respected by liberals and moderates, many of whom credit her with restoring dignity to a lectern that had been ravaged and abused by Sean Spicer, Sarah Sanders and Kayleigh McEnany.”

As far as replacing Maddow, Byers correctly points out that as rumors swirl about Maddow leaving, there is no obvious replacement for her on MSNBC/NBC News’ roster. Then again, CNN still hasn’t named a permanent successor for Chris Cuomo, who was fired from his 9 p.m. slot in December.

Byers writes, “And which of the two cable networks would be a better fit? MSNBC is, of course, unapologetically liberal, and arguably a better home for a longtime Democratic operative. That said, Psaki is also a card-carrying member of the political establishment, and far closer to the political center than MSNBC’s most outspoken liberals. She also spent three years as a CNN political contributor, from 2017 to 2020. But at the end of the day, both networks are staring down vacancies at 9 p.m. So, as with all things, this will likely come down to who makes the best offer.”

Russia and Ukraine

As I’ve written several times of late, the very latest with the crisis involving Russia and the invasion of Ukraine changes by the minute. CNN, Fox News and MSNBC all started reporting late Wednesday night that their reporters could hear explosions. The three major networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — all cut into regularly scheduled programming during the 10 p.m. Eastern hour to report the same. President Joe Biden put out a statement calling the attack “unprovoked and unjustified.”

So, for continuing breaking news, continue to check sites such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, the major networks or whatever trusted news sources that have reporters in Europe and Washington.

On this topic, here are some stories you might find interesting and informative:

Costas’ comments

Bob Costas in 2018. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas opened up about several topics in a wide-ranging interview for “In Depth with Graham Bensinger.”

Among the more interesting comments, Costas talked about leaving NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years. He told Bensinger, “There was no announcement. I didn’t need a parade, but it would’ve been nice if I could’ve ended on a grace note. I didn’t need a full-blown hour as a tribute to my career, as some people received. I would’ve been fine if they just had me do some sort of programming and then at the end, for two minutes, say goodbye. That didn’t happen.”

He added, “Maybe we’ll circle back and make that right at some point — make it completely right.”

When Bensinger asked if that would happen, Costas said, “I hope so. I think there’s a chance that it will.”

Costas also said he turned down a $20 million per year deal in 2007 to replace Don Imus on a syndicated radio/MSNBC show. (Imus had been fired for racist comments made about the Rutgers women’s basketball team.)

Costas said, “First of all, the 2008 Olympics were pending — I owed that to Dick Ebersol and the people at NBC. Plus, I didn’t want to get up at 4:30, 5 o’clock in the morning, five days a week. By Thursday of the first week, I would have regretted it.”

Video of the day

This is a really good piece of video: it’s Vox’s Joss Fong with “How American conservatives turned against the vaccine.” It’s nearly 15 minutes and well worth your time with charts, interviews and in-depth analysis.

Black History Now

(Courtesy: NBC News)

Look for a special tonight on NBC News NOW hosted by anchor Joshua Johnson. It’s called “Black History Now” and it aims to explore how Black  history has been taught and is being taught now. It is on at 8 p.m. Eastern ahead of Johnson’s prime-time show “NOW Tonight with Joshua Johnson.” It also will re-air at 11 p.m. Eastern with additional airings in the coming days.

The special will include guests such as actor and director LeVar Burton on the 45th anniversary of “Roots”; Kimberle Crenshaw, a leading scholar on critical race theory; NBC News correspondent Antonia Hylton on her reporting for NBC News’ “Southlake” podcast; and social media influencer Lynae Vanee Bogues, who produces Black history videos.

Johnson also visits his hometown of Palm Beach, Florida, to talk to his mother — the first person to teach him about Black history.

CNN+ announces schedule

CNN+ has details of the full slate of original content that will be available to subscribers when the service launches this spring.

Various announcements of hosts and shows have been made over the past several months, including shows involving the likes of Chris Wallace, Kasie Hunt, Jemele Hill, Cari Champion, Rex Chapman, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Don Lemon, Wolf Blitzer, Jake Tapper, media reporter Brian Stelter and many others.

Here’s the announcement of the full list.

Speaking out

Matt Hutchins (left), widow of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, being interviewed by “Today” show’s Hoda Kotb. (Courtesy: NBC News)

Last October, Halyna Hutchins was the cinematographer on the movie “Rust” as it was being filmed near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Hutchins was killed by a prop gun being held by actor Alec Baldwin, who has told authorities that he never fired the gun.

Matt Hutchins, Halyna’s widower, spoke exclusively to the “Today” show’s Hoda Kotb in an interview that is scheduled to air this morning. (Parts aired on Wednesday’s “NBC Nightly News.”)

He said he blames his late wife’s death on Baldwin and “industry standards that were not practiced” on set.

“The idea that the person holding the gun and causing it to discharge is not responsible is absurd to me,” Matt Hutchins said. “But gun safety was not the only problem on that set. There were a number of industry standards that were not practiced and there’s multiple responsible parties.”

Last December, Baldwin spoke to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos and said, “Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but it’s not me.” He also said, “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them, never.”

In his interview with Kotb, Matt Hutchins said, “Watching him I just felt so angry. I was just so angry to see him talk about her death so publicly in such a detailed way and then to not accept any responsibility after having just described killing her.”

On Wednesday, the “Today” show said it had reached out to Baldwin and his representatives, but did not say if Baldwin responded.

APSE awards

The annual Associated Press Sports Editors awards — sort of like the Oscars for sports sections and sportswriters — are out this week. The ASPE gives out awards for a variety of writing categories, including columns, beat writing, investigative, explanatory, features and event coverage. They also hand awards for sports sections, including daily, Sunday, projects and digital.

Go to ASPE’s website to check out the section and writing awards. Here’s the list of the top 10 columnists in the top division:

Greg Cote (Miami Herald), Sally Jenkins (The Washington Post), Ann Killion (San Francisco Chronicle), Mark Kiszla (The Denver Post), Sam Mellinger (The Kansas City Star), Jeff Passan (, Bill Plaschke (Los Angeles Times), Steve Politi, (NJ Advance Media), Kurt Streeter (The New York Times) and Jesse Washington (The Undefeated).

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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