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Monday, Sep 01, 2014
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Chelsea Clinton hasn’t been on NBC for four months


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NEW YORK — Chelsea Clinton – under scrutiny for her pricey contract with NBC News – hasn’t been featured since January, but the network says it does expect two completed stories to air soon, and two others are in the works.

Bill and Hillary Clinton’s daughter, who was hired in 2011, has done just a smattering of reporting for NBC News. Last week, Politico reported she is being paid $600,000 a year. Politico also said the 34-year-old, who is expecting her first child later this year, is now on a month-to-month contract that would ease her departure should her mother decide to run for president in 2016.

The news division would not go into detail about Clinton’s contract or her work when contacted by The Associated Press. A Clinton spokesman, Kamyl Bazbaz, referred questions to NBC.

NBC News has aired two stories by Chelsea Clinton so far in 2014, both on education programs targeting the underprivileged that were shown on “Nightly News” in January. NBC indicated, however, that Clinton has done two stories that are expected to air on “Nightly News” shortly and two others for which filming has been scheduled. Clinton is also busier with outside work, reportedly taking a more active role in her parents’ foundation, and NBC wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict by having her on the air around the time Hillary Clinton was doing a round of media interviews about her new book.

Clinton began work at the network in November 2011. She was the second presidential daughter to get work at NBC; Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of George W. Bush, is a “Today” show correspondent. Besides “Nightly News,” Clinton was hired to do stories for Brian Williams’ “Rock Center” newsmagazine, which has since been canceled.

Clinton profiled designer Stella McCartney and author Judy Blume for “Rock Center” and also did a cringeworthy voiceover “interview” with the Geico gecko. Much of her work falls under the umbrella of NBC’s “Making a Difference” stories, about various efforts to make communities better.

She’s done stories on the Maya Angelou Academy, a school program for jailed teenagers; a restaurant chain that donates leftover food to the needy; a Rhode Island school program where teachers at public and charter schools swap ideas; and an Arkansas tutoring program.

Her “Nightly News” stories this year were about a “homework diner” in New Mexico that feeds free meals to schoolchildren and their families, and a boxing gym in Detroit where youngsters must prove they’ve done their schoolwork to put on the gloves.

“She has a niche on the ‘Nightly News’ profiling philanthropic, volunteer and community service programs, often in praise of these groups,” news consultant Andrew Tyndall, who monitors the content of network evening news programs, said Wednesday. “She puts herself in the center of these groups’ activities. It’s a cheerleader style of reporting.”

Bush’s daughter seems genuinely interested in being a television journalist, while that doesn’t appear to be the case with Clinton, Tyndall said.

Bush Hager interviewed President Barack Obama about fatherhood for a “Today” story that aired earlier this month, and Michelle Obama this winter about the first lady’s healthy living initiatives. She’s also interviewed Jordin Sparks and reported on school curriculum efforts recently.

For a news division, an unspoken advantage to having a presidential relative on the payroll might be help in getting access to their famous family in newsworthy situations. George W. Bush gave his first television interview since leaving the White House to the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer in 2010. Hager Bush also interviewed her father about his paintings for “Today” in April.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s first television interview on her new book went to Diane Sawyer of ABC News.

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