“I had a great run on NBC News for a number of years,” said John Seigenthaler. “I covered some of the biggest stories in the world. But I was ready for a change.”
It was Thursday afternoon, and Mr. Seigenthaler—who was the anchor of NBC Nightly News Weekend from 1999 to 2007 as well as a contributor to MSNBC, Dateline NBC, Today, and Meet the Press—was on the phone with the Media Mob. It was his first day at his new job.
Earlier in the day, he had announced in a press release that he was joining Seigenthaler Public Relations (SPR)—a Nashville-based company started by his uncle in 1972 and currently run by one of his cousins. He will serve as CEO of the family business’s New York offices.
“I spent 28 years as a broadcast journalist, 11 of those at NBC News,” he said. “I enjoyed the time I spent there. But the opportunity to do something different and to work with members of my family was too good to pass up.”
How was the first day?
“They’re my family, you’d expect them to treat me well,” said Mr. Seigenthaler.
“And they have.”
Mr. Seigenthaler said that he doesn’t miss being on TV.
“When I left NBC last year, I started looking at a lot of different opportunities,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I had several other television news opportunities. I’m not going to squeal on who made me offers. But I can tell you some national and international and big market TV network affiliates all talked to me about doing some work.”
But Mr. Seigenthaler had had enough. Over the past year—since leaving NBC News, where executives had declined to extend his contract in a climate of widespread belt tightening in the news division—he has contributed to the Associated Press online (see video, above), providing political analysis.
“I’m not going to continue doing that,” he said. “But I am interested in public policy and politics and current events. I’m going to continue my public speaking and commentating and moderating panels as well. This offers me a lot of flexibility.”
Over the course of his career at NBC News, Mr. Seigenthaler filled in on a number of occasions for the late Tim Russert as moderator of Meet the Press.
Who does he think should be the next full-time moderator?
“I loved Tim Russert,” said Mr. Seigenthaler. “I worked with Tim on the air for many years. He was the best. I don’t think there’s any way of replacing someone who was so multitalented. … But I enjoy watching Tom Brokaw. I think he’s a perfect fit. I hope he does it past the election.”