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MSNBC Hires Former Obama White House Staffer as Head of Communications

Rachel Racusen joins MSNBC as VP of Communications, replacing Lauren Skowronski

MSNBC has hired Rachel Racusen to be its Vice President of Communications, President Phil Griffin announced Friday. She will start on December 8th.

Racusen comes from the Obama White House, where she last served as Associate Communications Director. Other roles she undertook included Deputy Communications Director for the president’s re-election campaign; Deputy Communications Director for the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee, and Director of Public Affairs for FEMA, where she led response efforts to Hurricane Irene among other natural disasters.

“I’m thrilled to add Rachel to our senior team,” Griffin said in a statement. “She has great experience, she’s creative, strategic and passionate about our brand.  She’ll be a tremendous asset to the network.”

Racusen replaces Lauren Skowronski, who left her post as communications chief after being promoted to VP of Corporate Communications for NBCUniversal over the summer.

Racusen’s insertion as communications chief for MSNBC comes at a time where the network has fielded mostly negative media coverage for losing ground in the ratings as well as occasional serious on-air gaffes from talent–one of the most serious being Martin Bashir’s comments about Sarah Palin, which led to his resignation last year.

In the interim period between Skowronski’s departure and Racusen’s hiring, MSNBC’s Director of Media Relations Diana Rocco filled in as communications chief. Rocco will now return full-time to her post as communications representative for programs like “All In” with Chris Hayes.

For those not aware of the behind-the-scenes media minutia, folks like Rocco, Racusen, and Skowronski are the ones who predictably develop permanent headaches from the mass of phone calls, emails, and smoke signals coming in from reporters like myself.

A friday tip of the hat to them all (although I’ll probably make you mad at some point later in the day).