It’s Official: Mark Whitaker To Take Over As NBC News’ D.C. Bureau Chief

NBC News executives announced today that Mark Whitaker–the number two executive at NBC News and former editor of Newsweek—has been named NBC’s new Washington Bureau Chief, a position that has been vacant since the sudden and untimely death of Tim Russert.

Back in June, a number of sources inside the organization told us that Mr. Whitaker was the most likely candidate to land the job.

From our previous piece:

Mr. Whitaker, who is African-American, joined NBC News in the aftermath of the Don Imus controversy, adding what many believed was some much needed diversity to the executive ranks at NBC News. Over the past year, according to NBC News sources, Mr. Whitaker has become a popular and well-respected presence at 30 Rockefeller Center. Fellow executives are said to value his judgment, and he is often called in to help out with touchy editorial conflicts–a fairly common occurrence these days as executives have wrestled to merge the just-the-facts culture of NBC News with the more freewheeling sensibilities of MSNBC. Along the way, Mr. Whitaker has earned a reputation as a conscientious manager with a deft touch for diplomacy.

That said, his specific responsibilities at NBC News remain opaque to outsiders and insiders alike. “He sits in on a lot of meetings,” said one staffer. “But no one seems to know quite what it is he does.”

“He knows how to run a news-gathering operation,” one former NBC News senior staffer added. “But he’s basically a vice president without a portfolio. He’s kind of been floating around.”

Assigning him to oversee the Washington bureau, goes the theory, would pin down Mr. Whitaker’s talents to a specific challenge. Moreover, it wouldn’t cost the news division any additional money at a time when NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker has been clamping down on costs across the board.

More from today’s release:

Whitaker, a veteran, award-winning journalist who is currently a Senior Vice President at NBC News, will assume his duties immediately. The announcement was made by NBC News President Steve Capus, to whom Whitaker will report.

"The enormity of filling this position was by no means lost on any of us, given the significance this job holds, particularly on the eve of an extraordinary presidential election," said Capus. "But the truth is, he is the ideal candidate for the job, and that was evident the minute we took stock of potential replacements. Mark’s got all of the components that will assure his success – a commitment to journalistic integrity, political savvy, a keen eye for the future, and a management style that is inclusive and fair. He is exactly what the bureau needs."

Whitaker will continue in his role as SVP at NBC News. His day-to-day responsibilities will include executive oversight of "Meet the Press," as well as of all of NBC News’ network election and political coverage. As D.C. Bureau Chief, he will oversee all bureau management and administration, as well as work closely with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, and Deputy Bureau Chiefs Wendy Wilkinson and Brady Daniels. Whitaker will also make occasional appearances as an on-air analyst.

"I am looking forward to keeping our coverage of politics and government the best in the business," said Whitaker. "I am honored and humbled to succeed Tim, whose commitment to journalism without fear or favor is a beacon for us all. And I am thrilled to get to work with our unparalleled team of NBC reporters and producers in Washington."

It’s Official: Mark Whitaker To Take Over As NBC News’ D.C. Bureau Chief