NBC News Chief Medical Editor Nancy Snyderman will be back on TV this Wednesday.
Off the air and publicly invisible since early October, when she returned from Liberia and then broke a voluntary Ebola-related quarantine at her home in New Jersey, Snyderman, the network’s top on-air doctor, will return to NBC’s Today on Wednesday morning, according to sources at the network.
The news ends, at least for now, questions about Snyderman’s future with NBC, following a social-media firestorm that erupted after she went out for food during her self-imposed quarantine. Wearing sunglasses and with her hair in a ponytail, Snyderman was spotted in her car outside the Peasant Grill in Hopewell, N.J. A photo was posted on Facebook and Twitter, leading the New Jersey Health Department to impose a mandatory quarantine and creating a PR nightmare for Snyderman and NBC News President Deborah Turness.
For Turness, who moved to New York from London last year to head NBC News, the Snyderman mess is just one of many controversies and clashes that she’s contending with lately. Two weeks ago, Turness fired Jamie Horowitz, whom she and her boss, NBC News Group Chairman Pat Fili-Krushel, had wooed from ESPN (DIS) in May to lead Today and build its audience vs. ABC’s top-rated Good Morning America. Horowitz had created an internal revolt, after he reportedly wanted to sideline Today co-host Savannah Guthrie and news anchor Natalie Morales.
None of this drama is apparently welcome by Brian Roberts, the CEO of Comcast (CMCSA), NBC’s owner. Roberts, who took over the Philadelphia-based company from his father, founder Ralph, in 2002, is known to loathe this sort of drama better that’s better suited to primetime TV—particularly now, as Comcast awaits government approval on a deal to buy Time Warner Cable (TWC)
NBC News executives were reportedly divided about whether to put Snyderman back on the air or fire her. The 62-year-old Snyderman, who has been with NBC since 2006 and is one of the network’s most intrepid correspondents, had Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance cameraman, helping her report from Ebola-plagued Liberia, and within 72 hours, he developed a fever and turned out to be infected. Snyderman told Today’s Matt Lauer by phone from Liberia on October 3 that she was “at very low risk of becoming ill” because “you must come into contact via vomit, diarrhea, blood, urine or sweat directly. We have not had that kind of exposure.”
Later that day, Snyderman and her two veteran crew members flew back to the U.S. by private jet, and none had any symptoms of Ebola. She continued to take her temperature twice daily and self-monitor her condition, never leaving her New Jersey home until the October 9—a decision that she now obviously regrets.
People who have followed the Nancy Snyderman saga may expect her to apologize when she returns to the air Wednesday morning. As NBC News brass were preparing Tuesday afternoon to welcome her back after two months away, they were figuring out how to address the controversy.
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