October 23, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Rashida Jones will replace Phil Griffin as head of MSNBC

Phil Griffin is leaving his post as president of NBCUniversal’s MSNBC and will be replaced by NBC News executive Rashida Jones, who will become the first Black woman to run a major TV news operation.

Griffin, 64, departs after leading MSNBC to the best year in its history thanks to heavy viewer interest in the 2020 presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jones, 39, has been senior vice president in charge of specials at NBC News since 2017. She leads coverage of breaking news and major events across NBC News and MSNBC and oversees dayside and weekends news programming on MSNBC.

Previously, Jones spent seven years as a managing editor and executive producer at MSNBC. She takes over for Griffin on Feb. 1.

In a memo to staff sent Monday, NBC News Group Chairman Cesar Conde wrote Griffin asked to leave following the election, expressing a desire to exit while MSNBC is in a position of strength.

The network’s personalities in the late afternoon and evening — including Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid and Nicolle Wallace — have seen their popularity rise among progressive viewers riled up by the actions of the Trump administration.

Phil Griffin is president of MSNBC.

(MSNBC)

“Phil is as much a part of the NBC News and MSNBC family as anyone in our storied history,” Conde wrote in the note obtained by The Times. “He started 25 years ago as a producer on ‘Today’ and has been with MSNBC for 25 years — since its founding. At MSNBC, Phil has built something remarkable. He leaves the network in the best shape it has ever been. Six straight record years. Each one better than the last.”

Conde stated Jones has “masterfully” guided NBC News coverage of the pandemic, the social justice protests and unrest, and the election. She produced the two most-viewed Democratic presidential debates in television history and helped lead the preparation for Kristen Welker’s role as moderator of the second presidential debate between President Trump and now President-elect Joe Biden.

Despite MSNBC’s ratings success, Griffin’s exit has been rumored since last year when the company was dealing with the fallout over sexual harassment allegations that roiled the news division for two years. In 2017, Matt Lauer was fired after a former employee reported an inappropriate relationship with the former “Today” cohost, which included a rape allegation that Lauer denied.

Griffin, a well-liked figure within NBC News who had strong relationships with talent such as Maddow, was never the subject of allegations himself. But longtime MSNBC personality Chris Matthews was ousted on his watch in March after a guest had complained about inappropriate comments the “Hardball” host made to her.