Accuracy in Media

Chelsea Clinton has been working for NBC for five months, but she hasn’t exactly wowed anyone at the network, or elsewhere for that matter, within the broadcasting industry.

Buzzfeed’s Michael Hastings takes a look at the nascent journalism career of the former first daughter and finds that there is a lot to be desired, based on her performance to date.

Hastings says that when Clinton was first looking for a network news job, she played the networks against each other, banking that her name recognition would get her the desired face to face meetings. But apparently they didn’t go over all that well.

“There was a sense in the meetings 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.”

Another news executive labeled Clinton’s interview as “horrible,” and said that they came with too many ground rules regarding what she would and wouldn’t do — reporting only good news, no politics — to the point that he passed on the opportunity to hire her.

That may have been a wise decision. So far, during her stint at NBC, she has done a total of three Making A  Difference segments, which haven’t exactly wowed the critics. As a matter of fact, The Washington Post, a solidly liberal paper and lover of the Clintons, called her “one of the most boring people of her era,” according to Hastings.

Then there is all the pampering Chelsea receives. Hastings says that Clinton is chauffeured around in a town car, has her own spokesperson, and her own chief-of-staff, Bari Lurie. NBC says that Clinton pays Lurie’s salary, but since when does a reporter have her own spokesperson? And heaven forbid that Clinton take a cab or the subway for an assignment.

NBC execs thought that hiring Chelsea would give the show some ratings buzz, which Rock Center clearly needed and still needs. But instead they wound up with the celebrity daughter of a former president who doesn’t have the same gift for gab as her famous father, leaving the network wanting more, much more.

Chelsea’s problems are largely of her own (or her parents) doing as she has limited herself as to what she will talk about. Compare that to Jenna Hager, the daughter of former president George W. Bush, who reports occasionally on education issues for The Today Show. She isn’t afraid to talk about her parents or politics, which makes her far more interesting as a result. Hager has even interviewed Bill Clinton, which is exactly what NBC was hoping for when she was hired.

In the meantime NBC will probably continue to hedge its bet by offering her more three-month contracts until she proves her worth, though there is no telling how long that might take. The hope is that either Chelsea develops a better on-air persona or broadens the range of topics she is prepared to tackle.

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