NBC Network Stars Criticize Network’s Decision to Hire Ronna McDaniel

NBC Network Stars Criticize Network’s Decision to Hire Ronna McDaniel

NBC News is facing significant backlash from within over its hiring of former Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel to provide commentary on the 2024 elections. 

Former NBC “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd excoriated the network Sunday over the hiring, while on Monday morning the hosts of MSNBC’s popular “Morning Joe” program said they would not have McDaniel on as a paid contributor. 

“To be clear, we believe NBC News should seek out conservative Republican voices to provide balance in their election coverage,” “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski said in on-air criticism of the hire. “But it should be conservative Republicans, not a person who used her position of power to be an anti-democracy election denier. And we hope NBC will reconsider its decision.”   

A source at NBC told The Hill on Monday that there was unanimous support among leadership at the network for McDaniel’s hiring.   

The source said network bosses reiterated to staffers, after the McDaniel deal was announced, that individual shows at the network have editorial control to book whichever contributors or guests they feel are most relevant to the news of the day.   

McDaniel’s deal with NBC is worth more than six figures annually, the news website Puck reported.   

NBC News declined to comment on the backlash the McDaniel hiring had sparked.    

It is not unusual for former White House officials or leaders of the national Democratic or Republican parties to land jobs in the media commenting on national politics. 

But the McDaniel hiring appeared to cross a line for some journalists at NBC, who criticized the former RNC chair for backing former President Trump’s false claims he won the election and for downplaying the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

Todd in a Sunday appearance on “Met the Press” argued that McDaniel had “credibility issues,” accusing her of “gaslighting” journalists for the last six years.   

“So when NBC made the decision to give her NBC News’s credibility, you got to ask yourself, ‘What does she bring NBC News?’” he asked. 

NBC’s sister cable outlet MSNBC leans to the left with its coverage in prime time.  

McDaniel’s hiring may have been meant to bring in a conservative point of view to NBC. 

But Jon Marshall, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School for Media, said such an effort might fall flat with MSNBC’s own left-leaning audience.

“MSNBC has been generally doing better than CNN because MSNBC caters more to its progressive audience,” Marshall said. “If they’re going to try and hire a lot of Republicans to try and reach out to a broader audience, journalistically it’s a good thing, although strategically as a business I don’t think that’s going to work.” 

In a memo announcing the hire, Carrie Budoff Brown of NBC News said there couldn’t be a more important time to have McDaniel join the larger NBC team. 

“She will support our leading coverage by providing an insider’s perspective on national politics and on the future of the Republican Party,” Brown wrote. 

Author and Yale professor Timothy Snyder said Monday during an interview on MSNBC that he disagrees McDaniel’s perspective brings value to the network or the public discourse more generally.  

“What NBC has done is invited into a normal framework someone who does not believe that framework should exist at all,” Snyder said during an appearance on Nicolle Wallace’s afternoon show, characterizing McDaniel as “someone who tried to take our system down.”  

Wallace said “nobody at this network tried to stop” her from running the segment with Snyder criticizing the decision, and she commented her network “wittingly or unwittingly” was sending a message to “election deniers” that they can make false statements “on our sacred airwaves.”

In her first appearance on NBC, McDaniel said Trump lost the 2020 election, a statement at odds with much of what she has said for the last several years. But she also said there were legitimate issues with the 2020 vote. 

McDaniel in the past has offered measured support for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. On Sunday, during the appearance in “Meet the Press,” she said “we should not be attacking the Capitol.” 

Asked by “Meet the Press” host Kristen Welker why she was shifting her rhetoric, McDaniel said she was in a new job and could now “be a little bit more” herself. 

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