NBC Paid Chelsea Clinton $600,000 For What Exactly?

Not surprisingly, having a famous last name really helps when it comes time to negotiate a salary:

Chelsea Clinton earned an annual salary of $600,000 at NBC News before switching to a month-to-month contract earlier this year, sources with knowledge of the agreement told POLITICO.

Clinton, who joined NBC News as a special correspondent in November 2011, was up for renewal or nonrenewal this year. Instead, the sources said, the network decided to keep her on the payroll on a month-to-month basis so the two parties could sever ties if Clinton’s mother, Hillary Clinton, runs for president.

Kamyl Bazbaz, a spokesperson for the 34-year-old Clinton, referred POLITICO to NBC News, which declined to discuss Clinton’s contract. “We don’t comment on details of existing contracts,” a network spokesperson said. “NBC News continues to enjoy a wonderful working relationship with Chelsea, and we are proud of her work.”

As special correspondent, Clinton worked on service-related feature assignments for NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams” until the show’s cancellation in June 2013. Clinton has since worked on packages for NBC Nightly News.

Of course, Clinton isn’t the only child of a politician to get an NBC contract, as the linked article notes. Jenna Bush Hager continues to do pieces for the Today show, and Meghan McCain once worked at MSNBC.

NBC can pay whomever it wants whatever it wants, of course, and I don’t blame Clinton for taking the money. At the same time, though, the incestuousness of a news network that covers her parents, one of whom is likely to be a candidate for President, paying the daughter to be a correspondent in even a non-political role strikes me as yet another sign of just how entangled politics and media have become.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Pinky says:

    Come on, give her a break. The girl grew up in poverty.

  2. shirt says:

    Laura Ingraham made $15,000,000 in the same time frame. Somebody’s got to tell Chelsea that if she wants to make it to the big-time she’s got to start peddling hate.

  3. Rob in CT says:


    Heh, that’s worth a chuckle. Well played.

    This is just one of the many examples of how our purported “meritocracy” isn’t really meritocratic. I recognize that even if we made a bunch of improvements, meritocracy is an unattainable goal: something to strive toward but never reach. But we’re not striving very well.

    Who you know, who your parents are, etc. are terrifically important (and probably would still be even if I had my way on policy, just to a lesser extent).

  4. al-Ameda says:

    Laura Ingraham made $15,000,000 in the same time frame. Somebody’s got to tell Chelsea that if she wants to make it to the big-time she’s got to start peddling hate.

    Chelsea’s agent has some explaining to do, he negotiated a lousy deal.

  5. DrDaveT says:

    NBC can pay whomever it wants whatever it wants, of course

    Or, to put it another way: the only people with standing to care about this are Comcast shareholders. So why are we talking about it?

    the incestuousness of a news network that covers her parents, one of whom is likely to be a candidate for President, paying the daughter to be a correspondent in even a non-political role strikes me as yet another sign of just how entangled politics and media have become

    No, that’s not it. If nothing else, the title of this blog post would have been different.

  6. stonetools says:

    Its the free market at work, so it must be perfect….

  7. CSK says:

    Jill Abramson got $500,000 a year. Granted, print pays less than television, but that was a ridiculously inflated salary Chelsea Clinton got, particularly for one who didn’t show any special aptitude for the job, or even much interest in it. But, with television, the bigger the name, the bigger the check.

    I feel sorry for young aspiring journalists with talent and ambition who’d happily work for a twentieth of that salary, and who can’t get jobs.

  8. ralphb says:

    Mark Halperin, Luke Russert; we could go on all day about nepotism in the news business. Could be one of the reasons it sucks so badly.

  9. Jeremy R says:

    … strikes me as yet another sign of just how entangled politics and media have become.

    CNN ‘documentary’ on George H.W. Bush paid for by Bush Library Foundation

    CNN plans to air what it’s calling a “documentary” about George H.W. Bush Sunday night in prime time, starting at 9.

    Except it’s not a documentary as the word is used to describe the work of a filmmaker like Ken Burns or Frederick Wiseman. It’s not even a documentary as the word might be used to describe an extended report of 30 minutes or so about a historic building airing on your hometown TV news station.

    This is two hours of hagiography paid for by the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. One of its two producers, Mary Kate Cary, is a former speechwriter for Bush when he was in the White House.

    The film is called “41ON41” and it’s filled with family members, friends and colleagues of Bush saying things like, “You can’t be around George Bush and not come away a better person.” (Bush was the 41st president and there are apparently 41 people saying such things about him. I stopped counting after I was told that a verse about being “true” and “pure” shaped Bush’s life.)

    Among the 41 are: James A. Baker III, Marlin Fitzwater, Roger Ailes, Jeb Bush, Jeb Bush Jr., George W. Bush, Dan Quayle and John Sununu.

    CNN has become so confused and compromised under President Jeff Zucker that it seems to have no problem with presenting this 41-voice tribute as history.

    Our national history belongs to all of us, and while there is nothing wrong with a rich and powerful family putting up money to create this kind of birthday gift for one of its members, it is not OK for a channel with the word “news” in its title to try and present it to millions of Americans as a “documentary” or “history.”

  10. Barfour says:

    Hey, this is capitalism. If Chelsea Clinton brought higher ratings, then there would be more revenue from ads, right? But, did she bring higher ratings?

  11. beth says:

    @Jeremy R: Just to jump in first with the both sides do it – CNN’s recent Chicagoland series was a great big fat wet kiss to Rahm Emmanuel. As a former Chicagoan, I enjoyed the series but I understand the mayor did have a hand in it which may be why he and his police department came off so well.

    I guess if CNN’s going to whore itself out, at least it’s an equal opportunity prostitute. But I wonder if this is a sign of things to come or not.

  12. Tillman says:

    The only scandalous thing about her salary is how many good, talented journalists and producers could be paid with the same amount of money. It’s just, gah, ineffective use of resources!

  13. CB says:

    For having the name “Chelsea Clinton”, and all of the connections that come along with it.

  14. JWH says:

    That $600k figure really bothers me. News orgs are laying off lower-level talent left and right, but Chelsea gets $600k just because of her last name? Those 600 big ones could have paid the annual salaries of a lot of hardworking lower-level producers, writers, and editors.

  15. John Peabody says:

    I agree with the first comment; she grew up in poverty. Besides, there are so many food outlets inside the RCA building, she literally does not know where her next meal is coming from.

  16. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @shirt: Laura Ingraham made $15,000,000 in the same time frame.

    Just imagine how much Ingraham could have made if she’d had Mommy and Daddy greasing the skids for her, instead of being the grandchild of Polish immigrants… (thanks, Wikipedia)

  17. CSK says:


    Many, many of them. They don’t get paid a lot, unlike the on-air talent.

    But a lot of businesses do this. Back in the mid-1990s, Little, Brown, once one of the most esteemed names in publishing, paid 60% of its acquisition budget to Paula Barbieri (remember her?) for a memoir (ghostwritten, natch) of her life with O.J. Simpson. The book was a total bomb, so much so that retailers refused to carry it unless it was remaindered-in-place, meaning the cover price had to be cut in half. Even then it didn’t sell.

    Just think of all the books Little, Brown could have bough with the money they paid to Barbieri (and lost): books you and I might have actually wanted to read.

  18. al-Ameda says:

    The world of media, film and entertainment is awash in money.

    It’s free market media economics. It’s all based on ratings, syndication and distribution of content. If we knew the salaries of all the prominent news anchors, talk show moderators, and radio show hosts, we might consider Chelsea’s compensation to be quaint. To put it in perspective, it is probably less than 1% of Rush Limbaugh’s compensation, or a similar percentage relative to the Kardashian “reality” show.

  19. Pinky says:

    @shirt: Doesn’t Ingraham do three hours a day? I haven’t watched NBC in a while, but this article gives me the impression that Clinton isn’t exactly a featured player.

  20. grumpy realist says:

    I guess my first reaction is: if you have any NBC stock, SELL. It’s a dumb CEO who doesn’t realize it’s cheaper and more effective to find some lean-and-hungry would-be pundit and groom him for success than shoving money at a supposedly famous person who has attained her position simply by who she was born to.

    It’s the equivalent of hiring Paris Hilton to be your main news reporter.

    (The only possible other interpretation I can make of this, assuming the NBC has any brains, is that they are absolutely certain the Hillary Clinton will run/win and they figure that hiring Chelsea gives them an in on getting HRC for interviews and getting inside scoops.)

    Incestuous circle-jerking, indeed. Bring on the asteroid.

  21. C. Clavin says:

    At least NBC is the private sector…we all paid Liz Cheney…for what?

  22. C. Clavin says:

    Pinky wins the thread…but y’all have to realize that $600,000 at NBC is not a lot of money…salary-wise.
    Brian Williams probably makes $10M+.
    Matt Lauer $25M.
    Megyn Kelly an impoverished $6M.
    Rachel Maddow $7M.
    $600K is bottom-feeding.

  23. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    If Laura Ingraham was around back then she wouldn’t have wanted her parents to be allowed to immigrate.
    Oh…wait…they’re white…never mind.

  24. DrDaveT says:

    @C. Clavin:

    y’all have to realize that $600,000 at NBC is not a lot of money…salary-wise

    Really? What % of NBC’s 6000 employees make at least that much? 1%? Fewer?

    “More than 99% of employees make” is an odd definition of “bottom-feeding”.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @C. Clavin: Heck, I’d change with her for her “low salary” in a NY minute!

    (Definition of NY minute: the time between when the light changes to green and the car behind you starts honking his horn for you to geddowddaahisway. See also: Nanosecond.)

  26. C. Clavin says:

    @grumpy realist:
    You and me both.

  27. C. Clavin says:

    First…You have to separate on-air from “regular” staff.
    I can tell you I was hired as a video editor by Dateline in ’93 at well over $100K. Hot shot producers and executive producers probably make that easy.
    Remember too that it’s NYC and NYC salaries don’t make sense relative to anywhere else.

  28. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    NBC Paid Chelsea Clinton $600,000 For What Exactly?

    What is NBC paying Brian Williams $10M for? Is he really worth $10M? Maybe he’s only worth half of it? Or a tenth of it?
    Is Steve Burke worth whatever NBC is paying him?
    And so on.

    Are you perhaps joining Occupy Wall Street? Or maybe you’re about to start Occupy NBC?

  29. Tillman says:

    @PJ: Think it was that cad Neal Boortz who once said, “Capitalism does not know the question, ‘What is too much?'” Just thinking someone is paid too much for something is antithetical to the operations of a free market.

  30. superdestroyer says:


    Why do you think that Chelsea originally got a job at McKinsey even though she had no formal education or experience that would have made her a good consultant.

  31. the Q says:

    I am just waiting for the male who got paid 60k to do the same job to file his discrimination law suit.

  32. DrDaveT says:

    @C. Clavin:

    You have to separate on-air from “regular” staff.

    Why? There’s nothing about Chelsea Clinton that makes her automatically on-air staff, or staff at all. $600k is way beyond the salary you would expect for anyone with her education, experience, and accomplishments.

  33. Slugger says:

    The scions of the powerful are set for life once they successfully negiotate their mother’s birth canal. This is not news! This is the way it is in every human society. Compare the wealth of a great genius in particle physics to someone related to Sam Walton.
    Can anything be done about this? Should anything be done?
    This is the reason we must admire Bill Clinton and Obama. Both were born to single mothers without any wealth and got to the top.

  34. beth says:

    @PJ: Exactly. It’s like that old real estate maxim – your house is worth whatever someone will pay you for it.

  35. Just Me says:

    It pays to be the child of a former president.

    Chelsea probably wouldn’t have gotten the 600k a year gig if her parents weren’t Bill and Hillary?
    Getting high paying jobs (or into elite schools) is pretty easy when you have famous and wealthy parents. When the Obama girls apply to colleges their name along will get them into the top school of choice-their name and parents names are all that will be required on their common ap.

  36. C. Clavin says:

    It would be interesting to know Luke Russerts beginning salary…the nearest analogue I can think of.

  37. bill says:

    Clinton has since worked on “packages” for NBC Nightly News.


  38. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tillman: Wait a second. How does that explain wages at McDonald’s and Wal-Mart? Clearly, paying too much is an issue at times.

  39. Tillman says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: The market sets the rate, cracker! It’s like what Leonard Smalls says: “Price. A fair price. That’s not what you say it is, and it’s not what I say it is… It’s what the market will bear.”

    Any consideration of overvaluing employees at the top over nebulous, unmeasurable criteria does not play into what the market will bear!

  40. the Q says:

    Look, Chelsea had to take a job to help with the family finances and the paper route and McDonalds’ jobs were all taken.

  41. Guarneri says:

    Well, she was an intern, right? And, well, you know………