NBC News will bring back chief medical correspondent Nancy Snyderman, whose mandatory quarantine at her Princeton home ended last night. But she and her crew will be given a month off, presumably to give the controversy over her breach of quarantine protocol time to fade away.
In a memo to staff yesterday (see below), NBC News President Deborah Turness announced that the 21-day quarantine period of Snyderman and her team was ending, but that “we have encouraged them — and they have agreed — to take some time off with their families and friends to help restore some normalcy to their lives.”
Snyderman still has not directly commented about her quarantine breach, except for a statement released by the network two weeks ago. The last time she posted on her Facebook page or Twitter account was Oct. 3. She has received more than 1,600 comments on Facebook since then criticizing her actions, but has not posted any responses.
In contrast, NBC News’ freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, who tested positive for Ebola while covering the disease in Liberia and was proclaimed Ebola-free by his doctors on Tuesday, will be on NBC today to talk to Kate Snow about his experience today.
Mukpo, who was declared Ebola free by experts at the Nebraska Medical Center biocontainment unit, celebrated the news on Twitter by attempting to rescue Snyderman from criticism by media experts that she has lost her credibility with viewers because of the quarantine violation.
Kelly McBride, an expert on ethics for the Poynter Institute, told the Associated Press Monday that Snyderman’s “arrogance and dismissiveness” create a huge PR and credibility problem for NBC. Bill Wheatley, a former NBC executive who teaches journalism at Columbia University, told the Associated Press Snyderman’s credibility could still be preserved if she and the network are more forthcoming about the matter.
The head of NBC, who until yesterday had not commented on the matter since announcing that Snyderman and the crew would be voluntarily quarantined, said the quarantine period has been a “challenging time” but did not say more about it.
A few online petitions and a Facebook campaign have circulated calling for Snyderman to resign or be fired from NBC. One petition called on a group to cancel her upcoming speaking engagement. Snyderman was scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the Network 2000 Women of Excellence luncheon in Baltimore on Oct. 30. Her name as the keynote speaker on the agenda posted on the internet was replaced yesterday.
Network 2000 President Janine DiPaula Stevens said Snyderman removed herself as the keynote speaker.
“Dr. Snyderman cancelled her appearance because she did not want to take focus off our event and message and turn it into a forum to discuss the Ebola crisis,” Stevens said. “We respected her decision and hope to be able to have her as a speaker in the future.”
The full memo sent to NBC staff yesterday:
Today we have good news about our team who had been in West Africa.
Ashoka Mukpo has been declared Ebola-free by his doctors in Nebraska and will soon be heading home to his family in Rhode Island. We are so pleased with his swift recovery and touched by the enormous gratitude both he and his family have expressed to NBC News. It’s a meaningful tribute to everyone here who has worked so hard to get him the very best care. We’ll hear directly from Ashoka today when he talks to Kate Snow about his experience.
And I am very pleased to share that, as of tonight, the 21-day quarantine period of Dr. Nancy Snyderman and the team will be over, which means they have cleared the range of time when Ebola symptoms typically appear (the range can be between 2-21 days after exposure but the average time symptoms appear is between 8-10 days). They remain healthy and symptom-free, which is a great relief to all.
While in Liberia Dr. Nancy and her team delivered first class, first-hand reporting from the front lines of this tragic and monumental story. Their subsequent departure from Monrovia, their return to the U.S. and period of quarantine has been a challenging time. We have encouraged them – and they have agreed – to take some time off with their families and friends to help restore some normalcy to their lives. We very much look forward to their return next month.
As we have said before, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, or to David Verdi or Dr. Tanya Benenson, Comcast NBCUniversal’s Chief Medical Officer, at any time. For additional information, you can also go to https://www.internationalsos.com/ebola/ or call the Comcast NBCUniversal Ebola Information Line at 800-905-5924.