It looks like Dr. Nancy Snyderman, the object of near-universal criticism since she violated a self-imposed 21-day quarantine last week after returning from reporting on the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, is keeping her job as NBC News’s chief medical correspondent.
In a staff memo released late Wednesday, NBC News President Deborah Turness praised Snyderman—who was caught waiting in her Mercedes outside a New Jersey restaurant, where another colleague was fetching a take-out meal—and indicated Dr. Nancy will be back on the case in November.
Snyderman’s quarantine, which New Jersey health authorities made mandatory after her lapse, was set to end at midnight Wednesday.
“While in Liberia Dr. Nancy and her team delivered first class, first-hand reporting from the front lines of this tragic and monumental story,” Turness wrote in her memo. “Their subsequent departure from Monrovia, their return to the U.S. and period of quarantine has been a challenging time. We have encouraged them — and they have agreed—to take some time off with their families and friends to help restore some normalcy to their lives. We very much look forward to their return next month.”
Snyderman’s initially voluntary quarantine was widely publicized by NBC after she and members of her journalistic team had worked briefly in Liberia with a freelance cameraman who became symptomatic and was diagnosed with the often-lethal virus, and then flown to the United States for treatment.
But her violation—for which she obliquely apologized—was greeted by harsh criticism by commentators and viewers alike, some of whom claimed her credibility had been severely damaged and she should no longer be permitted to report on the Ebola crisis.
Among her detractors was Dr. Bob Arnot, who covered medical issues for NBC before Snyderman joined the network from ABC News. While praising her willingness to put herself in harm’s way, he also accused her of “grandstanding.”
“The big problem now in journalism,” Arnot told CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday’s Reliable Sources media-criticism program, “is when you become the story, and this team became the story…There are thousands of people covering it, but why did they have to become the story and, sort of posturing as they put their suits on and off and…scrubbed and whatnot out in West Africa, as if they were actually treating patients. So, by coming back and sort of grandstanding and saying, ‘Look, we are self-quarantining,’ they really put a target on their back.”
Aside from Turness, among Dr. Nancy’s defenders was freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, who was declared Ebola-free and sent a series of pro-Snyderman tweets as he prepared to leave the hospital in Nebraska and join his family in Rhode Island.
“Special shout out to Nancy Snyderman at NBC News,” Mukpo tweeted. “For the record me and her were never within 3 feet of each other once. Be nice to her plz.”
In an interview Wednesday with NBC News’s Kate Snow—excerpts were released along with Turness’s memo—Mukpo expressed gratitude for his recovery and said, “I am just so fortunate to be alive.”
He added: “And every breath I take, every step I take, is just a reminder of how valuable and precious life is. And you know, how important it is to make good use of it. And, you know, I think in the future I’ll be much more delicate about the risks that I take.”