The chief of NBC News has a message for President Donald Trump: We're not going to be intimidated.
NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said on Tuesday that the president's attacks on some media outlets won't deter his organization from doing its job. NBC News was one of the organizations specifically cited by Trump last month in his tweet about the "fake news" media that is the "enemy of the American people."
"We're not the opposition party and we're not in a popularity contest with this administration or any other administration," said Lack, who supervises NBC's broadcast news and digital properties, including MSNBC. He called the president's attacks a distraction.
Trump hasn't specifically gone after any NBC News stories since he's been president. But in his "enemy of the American people" tweet, he mentioned the network along with ABC, CBS, CNN and The New York Times.
"This president has us focused every day more on temperament than we expected," Lack said. The executive, who gives interviews infrequently, spoke Tuesday at a conference held by the IESE Business School.
NBC News is trying to absorb the results of an election that the network, like many other news organizations, got wrong, he said. The network "relied too much on polls" and is evaluating how to use them in the future, he said. Lack said NBC needs more reporters along the likes of Hallie Jackson, Katy Tur, Kasie Hunt and Kristen Welker working in the states where Trump won, and promised the network would be able to afford them.
MSNBC's ratings have been soaring since the election, along with other cable news networks, defying a general trend where viewership usually drops after a presidential election. It illustrates an intense interest in politics stronger than at any point since 2000, Lack said.
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At the same time, ratings have been comparatively softer for NBC News properties like "Nightly News" and the "Today" show. The people who watch those broadcasts are less interested in the day-to-day political machinations as cable news viewers, he said.
"We're certainly sensitive to that," he said.
Lack also said that he hired Megyn Kelly from Fox News Channel because he studied the interviews and other work she had done at Fox. Kelly was interested in working in morning television and reaching a broader audience, and that was something NBC News could offer that Fox couldn't.
"She's a great journalist," he said. "I didn't invest in her because of her star power."