MSNBC is shedding more contributors as numerous on-air figures join President-elect Joe Biden’s transition efforts.
On Tuesday, an MSNBC spokesperson confirmed that Barbara McQuade and Richard Stengel will no longer be paid contributors after both were announced as part of Biden’s agency review teams, which will help prepare the incoming administration to work with existing agencies. McQuade, a legal analyst for MSNBC/NBC News and University of Michigan Law School professor (and occasional Daily Beast contributor), was listed as a member of the president-elect’s Department of Justice Review team; Stengel, an MSNBC political analyst, was listed on the Biden review team for the United States Agency for Global Media.
MSNBC cutting ties with the two paid contributors comes just one day after the network cut loose several other contributors that have worked with Biden’s campaign or transition efforts.
Following a New York Times report that historian Jon Meacham had assisted the president-elect’s team with speechwriting—a fact he did not disclose on-air even while commentating on Biden’s victory speech—the network ended paid-contributor deals with him and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an MSNBC medical expert who was appointed to Biden’s coronavirus task force this week.
According to a network insider, both Meacham and Emanuel are still permitted to appear on the network as guests with proper disclosures of their Biden ties, but could no longer be paid contributors while working with the president-elect’s team.
NBC News and MSNBC do not allow their on-air contributors to endorse or run for office while appearing as a paid analyst on the network. According to the Washington Post, NBC News does not allow staff to work for a political campaign or political action committee while being paid by the network.
While many networks have similar rules, others often allow their personalities to engage in informal political activities on behalf of campaigns that seem to push the boundaries of traditional mainstream journalistic ethics.
And, in some cases, the lines have been blurred even further. For example, Fox News hosts like Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro have appeared on-stage at rallies with President Donald Trump, while other Fox stars have routinely made paid speaking appearances at Republican Party events and fundraisers. And on CNN, paid contributor Ana Navarro hosted a fundraiser for Biden this year, while Van Jones has acted as an informal advisor to the Trump White House on criminal-justice reform matters.