Rashida Jones to Take Over MSNBC as Phil Griffin Exits

MSNBC Chief Phil Griffin and NBC's Rashida Jones
Santiago Felipe/WireImage; Virginia Sherwood/NBCUniversal

Griffin had been MSNBC's president since 2008 and before that served as an executive and a producer for both MSNBC and NBC News.

MSNBC is getting a new president.

The NBCUniversal-owned cable news channel has named Rashida Jones president, succeeding Phil Griffin, who will depart the company in the new year. Jones will officially take over the channel on Feb. 1, with Griffin staying on through January to ensure a smooth transition.

In a memo to staff Monday announcing the move, NBC News Group chairman Cesar Conde wrote that "Rashida knows and understands MSNBC, in part because it’s where she started when she first joined NBCU seven years ago.  She knows that it is the people who work here that make it great, and she understands its culture. She also appreciates the impact and potential of the brand."

Jones currently oversees dayside and weekend programming for MSNBC and is also a senior vp for both NBC News and the cable channel.

Griffin had been MSNBC's president since 2008 and before that served as an executive and a producer for both MSNBC and NBC News. He joined MSNBC at its founding in 1996.

"At MSNBC, Phil has built something remarkable. He leaves the network in the best shape it has ever been," Conde wrote in his memo. "Six straight record years. Each one better than the last. An extraordinary roster of anchors, journalists, producers, contributors and many more who each day create smart, in-depth news, analysis and perspective and do it in a way that is distinctive in the cable news environment – with humanity that pops through the screen. That’s no coincidence."

Conde's full memo is below.

Hi all,

I’m writing today with the kind of news that – in normal times – would be quickly followed by farewell parties, warm toasts, and reminiscent speeches. 

Phil Griffin has shared with me his decision to leave MSNBC early next year.

After the presidential election, Phil and I spoke about his desire to depart at a time of his choosing and when he felt confident about the strength of the network he loves. Phil is as much a part of the NBC News & MSNBC family as anyone in our storied history.

He started thirty-five years ago as a producer on TODAY, and has been with MSNBC for twenty-five 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. An extraordinary roster of anchors, journalists, producers, contributors and many more who each day create smart, in-depth news, analysis and perspective and do it in a way that is distinctive in the cable news environment – with humanity that pops through the screen. That’s no coincidence. 

Anyone who knows Phil well, understands that he has many interests and passions outside news – and he is energized right now by the prospect of being able to participate in them professionally. Even though COVID will – for now – prevent us from celebrating Phil in person (and exchanging his trademark high-fives), we will find the right ways to honor his NBC career, share stories, and wish him the best of luck in his next professional adventure.

We have some time, as he has agreed to stay on through the end of January to ensure a smooth transition. Today, MSNBC is not just a cable news network but a news brand that has unlimited opportunities to grow, deepen its relationship with the news audience, and thrive in a world defined by mobile, digital and streaming.

I’m delighted to share with you that the person whom I have appointed to lead us forward into that new era is someone we all know very well. 

Rashida Jones will be the next President of MSNBC, effective February 1. Rashida knows and understands MSNBC, in part because it’s where she started when she first joined NBCU seven years ago.  She knows that it is the people who work here that make it great, and she understands its culture. She also appreciates the impact and potential of the brand. 

As you know, Rashida currently leads coverage of breaking news and major events across NBC News and MSNBC, in addition to overseeing dayside and weekends news programming on MSNBC. In the last year alone that has meant, of course, that she has masterfully guided our coverage of the global pandemic, the social justice protests and unrest, Decision 2020, and the two most-viewed Democratic presidential debates in television history. She helped lead the preparation for Kristen Welker’s role as general election debate moderator. And she has steered many of our groundbreaking editorial series, including Justice for All and Climate in Crisis. 

If you’ve worked with Rashida on any of those endeavors, you know that she has an outstanding track-record and she leads with a laser-like focus and grace under pressure. I know she will be an excellent leader for MSNBC. 

Please join me in congratulating Phil on an extraordinary career at NBCU, and wishing Rashida great success in this new role.

Take care, 

Cesar