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On Chelsea Clinton and NBC

Chelsea Clinton has a new job as a “special correspondent” for NBC Nightly News as well as the network’s new TV-magazine, Rock Center With Brian Williams. James Rainey‘s piece on the Clinton hire notes that Chelsea’s entry into media is fairly ironic, given her legendary unwillingness to be interviewed.

True to her long-standing practice, Clinton declined to speak to anyone in the media after NBC’s announcement. She strenuously avoided interviews during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential run, even refusing to speak to a 9-year-old reporter from Scholastic News. The child wanted to know what kind of “First Man” Bill Clinton might be.

“Chelsea Clinton has loathed the news media for most of her life,” Don Van Natta, a New York Times reporter, wrote via Twitter. “So it makes sense she has decided to join us and refuse to be interviewed.” The journalist co-authored a book about Hillary Rodham Clinton.

There’s no doubt that Chelsea has what it takes intellectually to handle the job. But we can’t help but be skeptical about NBC hiring someone with zero media experience. Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you know storytelling. Or basic journalism for that matter. There are plenty of equally brilliant journalists out there looking for work. Granted, we’re talking about TV here and not the national desk at a major newspaper–a position that would require more rigor. Still, this thing has gimmick written all over it.

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