MSNBC anchor Alicia Menendez addressed the criminal charges filed against her father, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), on her show Saturday evening, telling viewers she will not be covering the case — but saying that it deserves coverage.
The senator and his wife, Nadine were indicted on federal bribery charges Sept. 22, accused of committing abuses of power in exchange for cash and gifts totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Last week, a grand jury indicted U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez,” Menendez told viewers at the beginning of the show, her first on-air appearance since the indictment. “This past week, dozens of members of his own party have demanded his resignation. I have been watching along with all of you, as a citizen, and also as his daughter.”
She continued: “I will not be reporting on the legal case. That said, my colleagues across MSNBC and NBC News, they have aggressively covered this story, and they’ll continue to do so, as they should.”
Menendez, who joined MSNBC in 2019 after a wide-ranging media career that has included stops at the now-defunct channel Fusion and the PBS program “Amanpour & Company,” now hosts “American Voices with Alicia Menendez,” which airs at 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
She was absent from the show last weekend, immediately following the indictment. But a person at the network with knowledge of the situation told The Washington Post that Menendez had long-scheduled plans to attend a wedding and that the timing was coincidental.
MSNBC has declined to comment on Menendez’s situation, though a spokesperson noted that the network has dedicated extensive coverage to the charges against her father and its political fallout.
It is standard practice for journalists at mainstream news organizations to avoid involvement in stories concerning people with whom they have a personal or family connection, or at least to publicly disclose any other potential conflicts of interest.
Menendez’s situation most closely resembles the dilemma that faced Chris Cuomo, who was anchoring a CNN prime time show when his brother Andrew, then the Democratic governor of New York, was accused of inappropriate behavior in early 2021.
“Obviously I am aware of what’s going on with my brother,” he told CNN viewers at the time. “Obviously I cannot cover it because he is my brother. Now, of course, CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so.”
While CNN had acknowledged that Cuomo served as a “sounding board” for his brother, he was ultimately fired in December 2021 after documents released by New York Attorney General Letitia James showed that he was more intimately involved in his brother’s defense than network management had known.