Chelsea Clinton has a problem.
The former first daughter’s new job as a correspondent for NBC News has gotten off to a rocky start — and, after just two on-air pieces (thus far) for “Rock Center with Brian Williams” and the “NBC Nightly News,” she has become the target of withering criticism from inside the TV world.
And it’s only getting worse.
A piece headlined “Chelsea Clinton, TV’s Dork Diva, Struggles at NBC” that appeared last week on the media site buzzfeed.com has renewed questions about her qualifications for the job — and NBC’s motives for hiring her.
Even before Clinton agreed to join NBC last fall, the perception was that “the news channels were auditioning for her — not the other way around,” the article stated.
One high-ranking (and unidentified) NBC exec reportedly told colleagues after meeting with Clinton, 32, that “she was going to be simply ‘terrible’ on television.”
The article was widely reposted on the Internet and, a few days later, triggered a column by the Baltimore Sun’s respected TV columnist David Zurawik, an early and vocal critic of NBC’s decision to hire Clinton.
A “journalistically bankrupt decision by NBC News” is what Zurawik called the hiring and added that he was “so enjoying” the buzzfeed story “on how Chelsea Clinton managed to get this plum job despite not spending one day actually preparing for it, as far as I can tell.”
In the past week alone, negative stories about Clinton have appeared on New York magazine’s Web site (Headline: “When Nepotism Goes Wrong”), The Atlantic (“NBC is Keeping Chelsea Clinton for One Reason Only — Business”) and The Week (“5 Reasons Chelsea Clinton is Bombing”).
All, incidentally, are considered longtime supporters of her father.
For the first time since Chelsea started there, NBC is defending her and its decision to hire her.
“I think she is very aware of how much she has to learn and that there’s a steep learning curve,” “Rock Center” producer Catherine Kim told The Post.
“I’ve worked with a lot of people new to a broadcast or to network TV, and she’s in the line of natural trajectory for improvement,” says Kim.
“None of us want to be judged by the first few months doing anything that’s completely new to us.”
Alison O’Brien, who’s producing Clinton’s next piece for “Rock Center” — her first since last February, about wasting perfectly good food — calls Clinton “smart and focused.
“We’ve talked out every point of this story, from research to the booking phase to the day of the shoot and the interviews,” she says. “She’s prepared and she knows her stuff . . . and that’s something that comes across.”
As for Chelsea herself, at least publicly, she is refusing to recognize the fuss.
“She’s enjoying working for NBC, and NBC is glad she’s a part of their team,” Clinton’s spokesperson, Matt McKenna, told The Post.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/war_on_chelsea_edn4DWZLinC5sOWtk1N9ZP#ixzz1tfMXxP00