NBC drops former RNC chairwoman after staff rebellion

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27 Mar 2024, 11:57 am

Ronna McDaniel, NBC part ways after backlash over hiring

NBC and Ronna McDaniel have severed ties following unprecedented internal backlash over the network’s decision to hire her as a political analyst, including top NBC personalities denouncing the move on-air.

“After listening to the legitimate concerns of many of you, I have decided that Ronna McDaniel will not be an NBC News contributor,” NBCUniversal News Group Chair Cesar Conde wrote in a message to employees.

NBC News announced on Friday that the network hired McDaniel, who stepped down as chair of the Republican National Committee earlier this month, as a political analyst. The hiring announcement was immediately met with internal backlash and played out on-air by several MSNBC hosts in the following days.

NBC journalists’ outrage stems from how the press has and continues to struggle over how to cover former President Donald Trump, who has taken aim at media outlets and pressured public officials to overturn the 2020 election he lost. McDaniel followed suit and echoed Trump’s claims on election fraud and critiqued the press, even referring to MSNBC reporters as “primetime propagandists” last year.

McDaniel first clearly acknowledged President Joe Biden’s victory almost a year after the election. She was eventually pushed out of the RNC by Trump, who called for leadership change within the committee.

McDaniel’s only appearance on the network was an interview with host Kristen Welker on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.” Former “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd criticized the leadership of his own company for the interview, saying in a panel discussion after the interview that he thinks “our bosses owe [Welker] an apology for putting you in this situation.”

An outpouring of condemnation ensued the next day as several MSNBC hosts publicly slammed McDaniel’s hiring. “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski said on-air that they hoped the network would “ reconsider its decision.” Other MSNBC hosts including Joy Reid, Jen Psaki, Lawrence O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow took time during their shows to voice their outrage.

Maddow spent the first half of her program, which is MSNBC’s top-rated show, addressing the “inexplicable” hiring. She said McDaniel is “someone who hasn’t just attacked us as journalists, but someone who is part of an ongoing project to get rid of our system of government.”

“If you care what I think about this, the fact that Ms. McDaniel is on the payroll at NBC News — to me that is inexplicable,” Maddow said on her show Monday night. “You wouldn’t hire a wise guy, a made man like a mobster, to work in a DA’s office. You wouldn’t hire a pickpocket to work as a TSA screener. And so, I find the decision to put her on the payroll inexplicable.”

An NBC union also railed against the hire, stating in a social media post that their “journalism is tarnished by @NBCNews execs elevating a liar over the workers.”

Conde’s note Tuesday acknowledged that “the last several days have been difficult for the News Group” and that no “organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned.”

“Over the last few days, it has become clear that this appointment undermines that goal,” he added. “I want to personally apologize to our team members who felt we let them down. While this was a collective recommendation by some members of our leadership team, I approved it and take full responsibility for it.”

McDaniel was initially supposed to appear on MSNBC — a cable arm of the NBC News division — but on Saturday night, MSNBC President Rashida Jones reversed course and told employees that there were no plans to have McDaniel on the channel.

The decision to hire McDaniel was unanimously supported by top network executives, POLITICO previously reported.

Those executives remained silent Monday as the numerous MSNBC hosts spoke out against the decision, and that silence continued until Conde’s note Tuesday evening.

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