Chelsea Clinton and the journalistic bankruptcy of NBC News - Part 5

In December, I called the hiring of Chelsea Clinton as a special correspondent for the newsmagazine "Rock Center" a "journalistically bankrupt decision by NBC News."

In February, after seeing Clinton's second report for the show, I wrote that Clinton "failed Journalism 101 -- again."


On CNN's  "Reliable Sources," I called the quote from NBC News President Steve Capus that it seemed to him as if Chelsea Clinton "had been preparing her whole life" for this job in journalism one of the most outrageous and disconnected-from-reality statements I have ever heard from the mouth of a news president in 30 years of reporting on the networks. I said that if Capus is telling the truth, then the 31-year-old daughter of privilege has led a "largely wasted life."

There was another "Reliable Sources" segment on Clinton during which I said what a tin ear NBC News demonstrated in giving this one-percenter a job for which she was so grossly unprepared when young adults were camping out in the streets as part of the Occupy movement because they couldn't get jobs for which they had studied and interned.


And, oh man, did I catch hell for daring to say such things -- and surprisingly from some colleagues who should know better. One fool even put down the buckets of water he was carrying for the Clintons long enough to call me a misanthrope for criticizing her.

Which is why I am so enjoying the report from BuzzFeed this week on how Chelsea Clinton managed to get this plum job despite not spending one day actually preparing for it as far as I can tell.

Here's a tasty BuzzFeed bite:

With Chelsea, it's complicated.

To get the TV gig, Chelsea's team played off rival networks, holding a series of meetings in New York last fall with all the major television news outlets, including ABC, CBS, and CNN. "Her agent calls, asks if you want to meet with Chelsea Clinton, you take the meeting," one network executive tells BuzzFeed.

But she didn't blow anyone away with her presence during the interview process, according to network executives who interviewed her. "Horrible," says another high ranking TV executive who met with Chelsea. "There were ground rules, what she could and couldn't report, only good news, no politics, " says the executive, who felt Chelsea would be a dud and passed.

There was a sense in the meetings that that the news channels were auditioning for her — not the other way around — which rubbed a few of those she met with the wrong way. "They acted like we should be grateful" that she was offering herself to the networks, says the exec.

Even high ranking company officials within NBC, according to sources at 30 Rock, weren't that impressed with her. One senior staffer told colleagues after multiple meetings that Chelsea was going to be simply "terrible" on television. Upon her arrival, Chelsea was given a welcome bag, filled with NBC swag, 30 Rockers tell me. NBC's David Gregory responded by jokingly asking: "Where's my welcome bag?"


Gregory's joke hints at the unprecedented level of special treatment Chelsea receives: she didn't do live shots on her Rock Center debut; she gets chauffeured everywhere in a town car while others her age strap hang with the suckers in Gotham's sewers; she has her own personal spokesperson; and she has her own chief-of-staff, Bari Lurie. (Lurie is to Chelsea what Huma Abedin is to Hillary: a fiercely loyal female aide and confidante, who logged over 7,000 miles with her during the 2008 campaign.) Other top talent at the network noticed that luxury: Lester Holt, Hoda Kotb, Natalie Morales, and Savannah Guthrie all share a single assistant. (An NBC spokesperson says, however, that Chelsea pays for her own chief of staff.)

That 2008 campaign, by the way, is the one during which she would NOT talk to the press. Maybe that's how she was preparing.

Read the full post

. It's worth it - especially the quote from network executives that "she's terrible on TV."