April 13th, 2024

NBC has cut ties with former RNC head Ronna McDaniel after employee objections, some on the air

By David Bauder, The Associated Press on March 26, 2024.

FILE - Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel speaks before a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. Former NBC News “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd criticized his network Sunday, March 24, 2024, for hiring former Republican National Committee head McDaniel as a paid contributor, saying on the air that many NBC journalists are uncomfortable with the decision. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

NEW YORK (AP) – NBC News cut ties Tuesday with former Republican National Committee chief Ronna McDaniel less than a week after hiring her as an on-air political contributor, a decision that came following a furious protest by some of its journalists and commentators.

In announcing the decision in a memo, NBC Universal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde apologized to staff members who felt let down by the hire, acknowledging he had signed off on it.

“No organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned,” Conde wrote. “Over the last few days, it has become clear that this appointment undermines that goal.”

There was no immediate comment from McDaniel. She found out she lost her job through media reports, not from NBC directly, said a person close to her who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it publicly.

NBC announced Friday that McDaniel would contribute commentary across network platforms, saying that it wanted the perspective of someone with inside knowledge about the Republican Party and former President Donald Trump heading in to the 2024 election.

The response from journalists and others within the network was swift – and public. Former “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd criticized his bosses on the air Sunday for the hire, saying he didn’t know what to believe from her after she supported former President Donald Trump in “gaslighting” and “character assassination” following the 2020 election.

An extraordinary succession of MSNBC hosts – Joe Scarborough, Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid, Nicolle Wallace, Jen Psaki and Lawrence O’Donnell – all publicly protested the decision to hire McDaniel on their shows Monday.

“It is a sign of strength, not weakness, to acknowledge that you’re wrong,” Maddow said on her show.

Republicans countered that the protest indicates that people at NBC News, particularly at MSNBC, were unwilling to countenance opposing viewpoints. The hiring, and quick firing, represents one of those rare instances likely to unite the left and right – in anger.

“NBC caving in to the censors,” Elon Musk, owner of X, formerly Twitter, posted on his platform.

Those who protested her hiring claimed that it wasn’t because McDaniel is a Republican, but it was because she helped promote Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election and assisted in efforts to overturn the results.

Efforts by news organizations to hire former politicians is hardly new. NBC News hired Psaki directly from her job as press secretary to President Joe Biden, and another former Republican National Committee chairman, Michael Steele, hosts a weekend show on MSNBC.

But there are concerns that the McDaniel episode may make it difficult for networks to find voices this year that can provide insight into Trump and his campaign.

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David Bauder writes about media for The Associated Press. Follow him at http://twitter.com/dbauder

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