Chris Jansing Heads South…

Ok…you know you were waiting for me to write about this. You knew it was coming. So here it is…

Anyone who has followed either Chris Jansing or this blog for any amount of time instinctively knows three things; she is very very good at what she does, she has had opportunities to cover stories that anchors at other cable nets and many anchors in MSNBC’s history have never had the chance to, and she’s a wonk about politics.

So, on its face, today’s news that NBC is moving her to the White House beat where she’ll be a Senior Correspondent accomplishes two things; it fills one of the few remaining holes in her resume from her time at NBC/MSNBC and it puts her in a spot where she should absolutely thrive in.

You would be right in assuming that this promotion very well could be the high point of her career. It’s the White House dangit! The chief power center of the TV News universe outside of New York. This is all about a move up right?

No. It’s more about getting her off MSNBC…

The signs were all there that this was coming. The EP revolving door on her show. The lack of direction the show was being given. The fact that Phil Griffin originally was planning on slotting Ronan Farrow at 10am.

Oh…wait…you didn’t know about that one did you?

Yes, word reached ICN last year that Phil’s early intention was to put Farrow on at 10. I wasn’t just talking out my ear when I slyly floated that scenario back in January.

But fate intervened in the form of Martin Bashir’s spectacular on air self-destruction. Now 4pm was open and soon filled by Alex Wagner which opened up 12 noon, and then MSNBC’s schedule got overhauled and all the journalists got grouped together. It’s an open question as to, had Griffin’s original intention been implemented, whether Jansing would have still been on MSNBC’s air the past few months.

Jansing is now technically in rarified company; Cable News Anchors Who Have Been Moved Off the Same Network Presided Over By the Same Network President Twice.

So, like in 2008 when she got sent packing into L.A. exile, Phil Griffin is a mean evil person who can’t judge journalistic talent and doesn’t know what he’s losing, right?

Sorry, not this time.

In 2008, most definitely. Phil didn’t know what he was giving up until it was gone. And then he wanted it back quickly but the NBC LA Bureau Chief didn’t want to give her up. He learned her value the hard way. And I’ve heard from reliable sources that he has stated that her leaving MSNBC in 2008 was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made.

But that was 2008 when MSNBC was still a news network (ok critics…stop laughing…it really was still in dayside). Now, MSNBC is a progressive POV analysis network.

Everything that makes Chris Jansing an asset to NBC News; her preparation, her relative non-partisanship (despite what you’ll read from ideological sites like NewsBusters and Democratic Underground, she really did try to play it straight as much as possible) her interest in the process of a story…especially a political story…all those plusses…are liabilities on today’s MSNBC which pushes talent to stake out positions and emphasize one point of view over another with increasingly reckless abandon.

The writing was on the wall. She just didn’t fit in there anymore. And the ratings reflected that. Her show came in dead last in the Demo last month for the network…though it fared much better in Total Viewers.

None of this had to have been lost on Griffin. He was pushing MSNBC after younger ideological viewers with his POV lineup and her show was weakest in the group he wanted most. As much as he now knew her worth, he also knew the cold hard facts. Her show wasn’t providing what the viewers he was after wanted it to provide. You can argue about the reasons…at the top of the list I’d put the dull show format and the lack of a push the network gave it compared to just about every other dayside show it had…but it didn’t work. Like Phil taking off Dan Abrams for Rachel Maddow, something that pained him quite a bit despite the success it turned out to be, a move had to be made at 10.

I want to quote something Phil Griffin wrote today…

She’s one of the hardest working journalists in the business and has always been there for us – no matter what time of day or night, or how big the story. Our heartfelt congratulations to Chris on this exciting new role.

The cynics would say sure…what else is he going to say…it’s the usual PR fluff. A lot of times if I saw something like that I would agree but not this time. This all rings true and it comes from the heart. He knows what he’s losing and as much as it stings it’s a move that is pretty much unavoidable at this point.

So in some respects this move is a win-win. Griffin gets another show off MSNBC’s air that didn’t fit in with where he wants the network headed (those dwindling few shows of that type which remain should be concerned about their long term future now), Deborah Turness gets Jansing in Washington D.C., which the grapevine suggests was a place Turness strongly wanted her to go, and Jansing takes a step in her career that she probably thought she would never be offered the opportunity of getting…a move that makes a heck of a lot more sense than the head scratching plucking of Michelle Kosinski from out of nowhere to the White House by CNN. Everyone makes out in this one to some degree.

Yes, NBC has a habit of tossing about impressive ego boosting job titles like word salad. On the foreign front it has a Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent, a Chief Global correspondent, and a Chief Foreign Correspondent. You can be excused for not being able figure out the differences between the three or which is the most senior position. I can’t. For the White House beat things are more clear. Chuck Todd still rules over all, and rightfully so. But Jansing will be his #2 if these titles mean anything. And she gets prime face time on Nightly which is primo territory only rivaled by The Today Show.

Sure, we viewers lose…at least the ones who go back with MSNBC longer than Jansing was there. We will miss her professionalism, her ability to shine in just about any situation. But unlike 2008, there isn’t really a bad taste in my mouth over this development. It was time. She had a good run. Now it’s on to other things.

19 Responses to “Chris Jansing Heads South…”

  1. Glad to see her Moving up … and maybe more moving up on NBC News… better than being in the sea of POV at msnbc. Wow that leaves Alex Witt as one of early MSNBC (when it was a news channel) left on the network.

  2. Unless you’re CHIEF WH correspondent you’re nothing.

  3. Yeah? Tell that to Savannah Guthrie…

  4. When Jansing becomes cohost of the Today Show, I’ll toot my horn.

  5. If this move had happened 12 years ago, your suggestion would have been possible. Not now.

  6. motownman Says:

    Congratulations to Chris. Should have happened a long time ago.

  7. Kevin Ehsani Says:

    I think Alex Witt be a great replacement for Jansing at 10am… maybe I’m wrong. I know she loves her weekend slot at 7am, but do you think she’d want a promotion like that? I can’t think of anyone else at the moment.

  8. fritz3 Says:

    “This is all about a move up right?”

    ^^Only if Todd is leaving or it’s a temp job like it was for Guthrie. The WH assignment isn’t the prestige job it use to be and any high profile news will still be handled by CT. I expect she gets Welker’s air time and Alexander moves on.

    “NBC has a habit of tossing about impressive ego boosting job titles like word salad.”

    ^^Maybe but they don’t hold a candle to CNN in the job title sweepstakes.

    “I think Alex Witt be a great replacement for Jansing at 10am”

    ^^ Unlikely. Witt is just a less talented Jansing. My guess would be Ari Melber who MSNBC has been testing out as a host for the last few months. They also could also give the slot to Steve Kornacki and give Melber his weekend shows but I really hope that doesn’t happen.

    “Deborah Turness gets Jansing in Washington D.C., which the grapevine suggests was a place Turness strongly wanted her to go”

    ^^If that’s the case then maybe, like with Guthrie moving on to Today after a short stint in DC, this is just a resume building exercise and the real goal is to replace David Gregory on MTP if his ratings continue to tank. The first woman host on a Sunday Morning political show would be a real ground breaker. You heard it here first.

  9. I don’t think it is a short stint in D.C. It could be the first step in a chain of events that sees Todd leave the W.H. beat at some point…though I don’t see that point any time soon. MTP is in trouble, yes, and *we* know Gregory is the reason. NBC, however, does not which is why we keep reading about them tinkering with the format of the show. Their short to intermediate term goal is to continue with Gregory.

    Now if Matt Lauer leaves Today then all bets are off. NBC could opt to slot Gregory on Today (which would be viewed as a promotion) which would free up MTP for Todd and open up the Chief WH correspondent job for Jansing. But such a scenario would be years away. And with Josh Elliot and his ladder climbing ego at NBC now, the chances of Gregory getting Today are much more remote than they were a few years ago.

    Jansing does not get MTP. No chance. Too many D.C. Bureau feathers would be ruffled if that happened.

    You are right on one thing though…the WH job is not the prestige job it once was if your title does not have the word “Chief” in it.

  10. Another point worth considering…

    MTP is not the prestige assignment it used to be. NBC is slowly destroying what made that show what it was with all these format changes. When/if the time arrives Todd may not want the gig because the gig ain’t what it used to be.

  11. I think Witt at least deserves a shot at 10 but I agree about Melber. When they had him subbing for her during the Olympics…looking back now, it was probably a test drive for the hour.

  12. Bottom line: Jansing gets kicked out of the way and it beats getting fired.

  13. Bonus: she gets a free supper tonight?

  14. fritz3 Says:

    “MTP is not the prestige assignment it used to be.”

    ^^I agree that the Sunday Morning political discussion format, including MTP, is getting old and needs an overhaul. It may lack the prestige it use to have; (you could say the same for the 3 evening news shows) but the TV networks still think of them as important showcases. I agree Todd may not want the show unless he gets to keep TDR and/or his current role at the WH.

  15. fritz3 Says:

    “Now if Matt Lauer leaves Today then all bets are off. NBC could opt to slot Gregory on Today (which would be viewed as a promotion) which would free up MTP for Todd and open up the Chief WH correspondent job for Jansing.”

    ^^Good point. I think DG would be on the short list to succeed Lauer along with Willie Geist and one or two others. If Todd did go to MTP then Jansing could become chief WH honcho but that assumes CT doesn’t want both jobs, which I think is unlikely.

    “Jansing does not get MTP. No chance. Too many D.C. Bureau feathers would be ruffled if that happened.”

    Maybe, maybe not. The person making the decision is Deborah Turness; (I may be completely wrong on this point) who as you say really likes Jansing. If she wants CJ at MTP then DC types may have ruffled feathers but won’t be able to do anything about it.

  16. Ruffled feathers AND the media press pays extra close attention to her every move in a way Chuck Todd going there would never have to deal with. In other words, it’s a booby trap.

  17. paminwi Says:

    Willie is a much better fit for Today than David Gregory. I think Chris would be a good choice for MTP but I can see how that would not happen. Just think though, before you know it Bob Schieffer will be gone from Face the Nation and maybe CBS could poach Chris from NBC. Who at CBS, since I don’t watch it much would be next in line? I might have thought a year or so ago it could have been Sheryl Attkisson but that is not going to happen now.

    Just thinking outside the box!

  18. fritz3 Says:

    “I might have thought a year or so ago it could have been Sheryl Attkisson but that is not going to happen now.”

    ^^Sheryl Attkisson has burned her bridges to the MSM. FNC or sites like Dailey Caller are in her future not hosting a Sunday morning political show on CBS, ABC or NBC.

  19. I think Norah is the next in line. It is the more prestigious position for her considering where CBS This Morning is sitting in the ratings.

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