The Evolution of Chelsea Clinton

From no-interview policy to interviewer for NBC News.

November 14, 2011, 1:24 PM

Nov. 15, 2011— -- The irony that Chelsea Clinton has spent much of her life avoiding the media but now she's about to join their ranks is not lost on fellow reporters, some of whom covered Clinton when she stumped for her mother Hillary Clinton during her Senate campaigns and the 2008 presidential race.

Responding to NBC's announcement that Clinton will report on-air for the nightly newscast, Politico's Glenn Thrush tweeted, "In '08, Chelsea Clinton (in N.H.) told me "Sorry, I don't talk to the media." I said, 'But you are all grown up now.' Now she IS the media."

Jodi Kantor at The New York Times tweeted, "The supreme irony of Chelsea Clinton becoming an NBC reporter: I'm pretty sure she's never granted an interview."

Others expressed themselves more strongly.

Amy Chozick, who covered the 2008 race for The Wall Street Journal, tweeted that Clinton "disdained reporters."

Politico's Ken Vogel tweeted that Clinton gave reporters the "total cold shoulder."

NBC announced Monday that Clinton had accepted a job reporting on-air for the network's "Making a Difference" series, which airs on "NBC Nightly News." The former first daughter will focus on positive stories about people who are working to make the world better.

At 31, Clinton has emerged from awkward teenage daughter, whose voice was rarely heard in public, to powerful surrogate for her mother, speaking at hundreds of college campuses and town halls all while shunning media interviews, to her latest incarnation -- network television news reporter.

Click Here for a Look at Chelsea Clinton Through the Years

Her recent public outings may have been a clue to her latest move. In September, during a Clinton Foundation meeting, she interviewed her mother, the secretary of state, on the appropriate role of government. And last week she interviewed her father in New York during an appearance to promote his latest book, "Back to Work."

Clinton's no-interview policy was a decision she made to maintain some level of privacy -- the logic being that if she opened the door even an inch, she would become a public persona who would have to talk to everyone.

Lisa Caputo, Hillary Clinton's press secretary when she was first lady, told ABC News in 2008 that Chelsea Clinton's no-interview rule was an extension of what her parents began.

"When President Clinton was elected, he and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton made a decision to draw a line in the sand around Chelsea and her zone of privacy," Caputo said.

Hollywood film director Harry Thomason, a close friend of the Clintons, said that during her father's presidency, his daughter kept a low profile.

"I don't think Chelsea is one of those people that has ever wanted to be the center of attention," Thomason told ABC News in 2008. "We can all see that over the following years. She had plenty of chances to be the center of attention in the White House and in her college years, and she's just always chosen not to."

That will likely remain the case, despite her raised profile.

"It's not about Chelsea Clinton saying, 'Here I am; I want to be a TV star,'" NBC News President Steve Capus told The New York Times.

Clinton, who did not give an interview for the Times' article but sent a statement instead, said: "I hope telling stories through 'Making a Difference' -- as in my academic work and nonprofit work -- will help me to live my grandmother's adage of 'Life is not about what happens to you, but about what you do with what happens to you.'"

Capus told the Times that he learned through a third party that Clinton "was kicking around what she wanted to do next."

When he met with her, Clinton told Capus that she had been moved during her mother's campaign by stories of people making personal contributions to the world, and that those are the kinds of stories she'd like to tell.

"Having somebody who was going to do really captivating feature assignments for the 'Making a Difference' franchise really kind of synched up," Capus said, while stressing that the former first daughter would be more than just a talking head.

"She wants to be in the field for the shoot and in the edit room for the edit," he said.

After graduating from Stanford and completing a master's at Oxford, Clinton worked in New York for a hedge fund, earing more than $200,000 a year. Last year, she completed a master's in public health at Columbia University in New York and began working with Clinton Foundation. She also married investment banker Marc Mezvisnky.

While working for NBC, Clinton will continue her work with her father's foundation, as well as her doctoral studies at New York University and her board work for the American Ballet School.

"We both want to see how this goes," Capus said. "It will be full-time for the near-term future. But I hope it's the beginning of a nice, long-term relationship."

Clinton is the second daughter of a president to be hired by NBC News. Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of President George W. Bush, works as a correspondent for NBC's "Today" show. At sister network, MSNBC, Meghan McCain, daughter of John McCain, is a contributor.

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