In The Know

Symone Sanders on her new MSNBC show: ‘I’m not going to be a spokesperson’ for Biden

Symone Sanders, a former senior adviser to Vice President Harris, insists she won’t be simply defending her former boss and President Biden on her new MSNBC show.

“I’m not here to be a spokesperson for the Biden administration,” Sanders tells ITK.

“I had that job already,” she adds. 

Now, the 32-year-old Nebraska native, who stepped down from her role advising Harris last year, is ready to “tell it like it is” on “Symone,” her weekend MSNBC program premiering on Saturday.

“I’m going to be honest, and sometimes the honesty means that what I have to say is not what the administration would have to say. And that’s fine, because it’s my show.”

The eponymous series will air Saturdays and Sundays at 4 p.m., in addition to a streaming program hosted by Sanders on Mondays and Tuesdays on Peacock. MSNBC announced Wednesday that Jill Biden will sit down with Sanders for an interview on Saturday’s premiere episode.

Her vision for the show, she says, is to reach not just D.C. insider news junkies, but a crowd who would be part of a “nonpolitical group chat,” covering not only Congress, but pop culture and stories beyond the Beltway.

“We’re going to do today’s headlines, but we’re going to go deeper. We’re going to get to the weeds,” says the former CNN commentator, who became a national name as press secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign.

Sanders says she chose MSNBC because of its “really great track record in streaming.”

“I’m a millennial, and the only reason, frankly, I was turning on the TV was because of the job that I worked.”

“When I wake up in the morning, I’m checking Twitter, I’m checking Instagram, I check my email, I check my text messages, and I would not turn on the TV … and then the first time I see a television that’s on is when I walk into my office.”

“So my show is going to reach people like me: young people who are engaged, who are paying attention, who care, but who may not be watching TV as regularly.”

Sanders declines to say whether she’s spoken to Harris since MSNBC announced the launch of “Symone” in January: “I’m not going to get into the conversations I do and don’t have — so take that for what you will.”

But she came to her former boss’s defense when asked about a recent New York Post opinion piece that dubbed Harris “Madam Maytag — the loneliest girl in DC” — due to her high staff turnover rate and slipping job approval numbers.

“It’s so sexist,” Sanders exclaims.

“My personal opinion is that she is covered in this particular way because she’s the first. She’s something that people have not ever seen anybody like her before: a woman, a Black woman,” she says.

“The coverage changes when you are talking about a woman, period.”

The remarks came before news broke Monday of the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion showing the justices appear set to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“We’re talking about the criminalization of people who get abortions, but also people who aid those folks in getting abortions, the doctors that administer those abortions — this is extreme,” she said Tuesday during an appearance on MSNBC.

“This I don’t think is who we want to be as Americans.”

Speaking with ITK, she echoed political experts’ predictions of a treacherous landscape for Democrats ahead of the midterm elections in November.

“I don’t want to throw cold water on anybody’s party, but I think it’s a very uphill battle if folks think that Democrats are going to keep the House of Representatives.”

A “bright spot” for Democrats, Sanders says, is the party has a chance to “actually end up gaining seats in the Senate, given this map and some of the candidates that Republicans are putting forth.”

“Nothing is over till it’s over,” says Sanders, citing her experience as a senior adviser on Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. “I’ve worked other campaigns where the people were like, ‘It’s done. They ought to drop out. They’re not going to win. Six months from now it’ll be a bloodbath.’ And then, you know, one of those people became the current president of the United States of America.”

Sanders says she’s always had a straightforward approach but that her confidence developed later in life, while working at a consumer advocacy think tank in the District.

“I remember sitting in meetings, and my first couple months were rough. It was so rough — everything I wrote would come back with red on it. I wasn’t really finding my footing,” she recalls.

“One day I realized everybody else was just saying what they think, what they want, and then we’re cobbling it together and making a strategy. So maybe I just need to start saying what I think, what I want.”

Along with launching her new show, Sanders is getting ready for her August wedding in Mexico to fiancé Shawn Townsend. She spends her free time with Townsend and his “smart and amazing” 6-year-old son. She’s also an “avid Bravo ‘Real Housewives’ consumer,” saying the Potomac, Md., and Atlanta franchises of the reality TV guilty pleasure are her favorites.

“I also enjoy the nail shop,” Sanders — who sports acrylics with a gel polish overlay — says.

“I’ll take my two hours to tune out. I won’t take calls. I just enjoy being in there, getting pampered.”

Blinged-out nails might be a welcome escape for Sanders from the reality of the country’s ugly political climate.

“Folks are not talking, in my opinion, enough about democracy. Our democracy is hanging on by a thread, and God bless the people who are working to hold it together,” she says, praising both the work of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and the efforts of filmmakers, journalists and some politicians.

“The pendulum is swinging, and I can’t think of a better moment, a more blessed opportunity that I have to add my voice to that conversation,” says Sanders.

“There’s no one on television right now that has the insight that I have,” she contends.

“I’m a recovering politico that has something to say.”

–Updated at 11:09 a.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders Jill Biden Joe Biden Kamala Harris MSNBC Symone Sanders Symone Sanders

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video