Does Chelsea Clinton Deserve Her Job At NBC?

Chelsea Clinton news correspondent NBCThe critics are now calling it the Nepotism Broadcasting Corporation.

The news that Chelsea Clinton would be brought on as a special correspondent for NBC News, with plans for her to regularly contribute to "NBC Nightly News" and the news magazine, "Rock Center With Brian Williams," elicited much reaction both inside and outside the news industry. The past few years have seen the media establishment facing a crisis unlike any it has faced since the inception of Johannes Gutenberg's printing press in the 15th century. Journalists have been laid off in droves, and so the idea that anyone could leap to such a premiere post with no industry experience has ruffled more than a few feathers. Referring to Clinton's qualifications, which include a stint as a hedge fund employee, Time magazine media critic Jim Poniewozik noted, "However capable she is, Chelsea Clinton's newest career turn is not, by any reasonable definition of the word, fair. She is starting a job she simply would not have were she not famous."

But in his attempt to express a full appreciation for non-traditional career ascents in the media, Poniewozik pointed to the rise of George Stephanopoulos, the current host of ABC's "Good Morning America." He noted that despite not having worked the "cop beat," Stephanopoulos offered his background as a communications staffer in the Bill Clinton White House, which gave him a unique vantage point, and Rolodex, from which to operate as a political reporter.

Isn't such a background exactly what companies are entitled to look for when putting together their personnel? By that logic, isn't "child of the commander-in-chief" an invaluable bullet point on the resume, for reasons related to both a survival of the experience itself as well as the incomparable exposure it provides?

Of course, such a background doesn't automatically guarantee success once it's time to show your stuff when the cameras roll. Which in the case of Jenna Bush, daughter of George W. Bush, has taken on a literal meaning. As an employee at NBC before Clinton, Bush has worked as a special education reporter for "The Today Show," and even interviewed Bill Clinton about his advocacy work in crisis-torn Haiti. And as the Los Angeles Times notes, Clinton and Bush join a cast of presidential children who have worked in the media. "President Truman's daughter, Margaret, hosted a radio show, 'Authors in the News.' John F. Kennedy Jr. co-founded the political magazine George. Vice President Walter Mondale's daughter, Eleanor, worked as a television and radio host," wrote James Rainey of the L.A. Times.

None have ever been reported to be a total flop on the air, and the recent successes of presidential progeny in their own lives is noteworthy, argued Gail Collins of The New York Times in a column last year entitled, "The Kids Are All Right." Collins noted that presidential children have grown more stable. "Early on, there were quite a few suicidal alcoholics. FDR's five children managed to produce 19 marriages," she wrote.

But in taking a look at Chelsea Clinton, and Jenna Bush and her twin, Barbara, who works as an education programmer at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York, she had this to say: "Virtually everyone in America loathes either George W. Bush or Bill and Hillary. Yet every sensible person, no matter what political stripe, would have to admit that both families produced really good kids."

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