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Jen Psaki leaving White House next month for MSNBC gig: Report

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NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki will leave the Biden administration "around May" and join MSNBC, Axios reported on Friday.

Sources "close to the matter" claim that Psaki is in "exclusive talks" with MSNBC to "join the network after she leaves the White House." The report asserted that the deal is "nearly final," but noted that "no contracts have been signed."

Two sources conveyed that Psaki has already "told some senior officials at the White House about her departure and her plans to join MSNBC." An administration source revealed that Psaki hasn't formally informed the White House press team about her leaving the Biden administration for the media gig.

The report stated that Psaki would host a show on NBCUniversal's streaming platform Peacock and join MSNBC as a pundit for political commentary during live cable news shows, a person with direct knowledge informed NPR. Psaki was a political contributor for CNN between 2017 and 2020.

Psaki can't sign a new contract until complying with federal ethics rules regarding public employees moving to private-sector job opportunities while in office.

"We don't have anything to confirm about Jen's length of planned service or any consideration about future plans," a White House official told CNBC. "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."

There have been rumors since February that Psaki was being courted by top executives at MSNBC and CNN. The report said the TV execs tout Psaki as potentially "the next Rachel Maddow."

Last May, Psaki said she would leave her role as White House press secretary in about a year.

"I think it’s going to be time for somebody else to have this job in a year from now or about a year from now," Psaki said in an interview with former Obama administration colleague David Axelrod.

Psaki said her current position is a "great job" and it will "be hard" to leave. However, Psaki also said she wants to spend more time with her children.

"I don’t want to miss moments," Psaki said on "Axe Files" podcast. "I don’t want to miss things and I’m very mindful of that as well."

If Psaki leaves for the progressive cable news network, it could be for a deal similar to the one Symone Sanders, a former adviser and senior spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, signed in January. Sanders has an exclusive contract with MSNBC to host a show on Peacock starting May 7 and provide commentary on MSNBC shows.

Possible White House press secretary replacements for Psaki include her deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre, and White House communications director Kate Bedingfield. Both candidates have filled in for Psaki during absences. "There have also been rumors suggesting Pentagon press secretary John Kirby as a replacement," NPR reported.

Other former White House press secretaries have jumped to media opportunities. Sean Spicer, press secretary under Donald Trump, hosts his own show on Newsmax TV. Kayleigh McEnany joined Fox News in March 2021. Also joining Fox News were former White House press secretaries for George W. Bush Dana Perino and Ari Fleischer. George Stephanopoulos, former White House communications director for Bill Clinton, is the host of ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week."

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