MSNBC hosts criticize NBC News for hiring Ronna McDaniel

By | March 26, 2024

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow opened her show Monday by urging NBC News to cut ties with Ronna McDaniel, the former chair of the Republican National Committee who was hired by the network as a paid political analyst.

“The fact that Ms. McDaniel is on the payroll at NBC News is inexplicable to me,” Maddow said. “And I hope they will reverse their decision.”

Her comments on NBC News on Monday were among the most notable of a series of MSNBC anchors scrutinizing the decision to sign McDaniel. Several hosts devoted segments questioning McDaniel’s credibility.

MSNBC and NBC News are both part of the NBCUniversal News Group.

Maddow took issue with McDaniel’s staunch support of former President Donald Trump even as he refused to accept the outcome of the 2020 election. The former RNC chairman is accused of joining Trump in pressuring election officials in Michigan not to certify the 2020 presidential election there.

Maddow also said that a free press should not be intimidated. “We don’t take it personally when we are attacked, when they say they want to try and execute us for treason,” she said.

“And so I want to join all my colleagues at MSNBC and NBC News who have voiced loud and principled objections to our company for putting on its payroll someone who has attacked us not just as journalists, but someone who is part of a ongoing project to get rid of our system of government,” she said of McDaniel. ‘Someone who is still trying to convince Americans that this election stuff isn’t really working. That this last election was not a real result. That American elections are fraudulent.”

McDaniel made no public comment Monday.

politics politics (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)

politics politics (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)

Maddow said MSNBC staff “unanimously and immediately expressed their outrage” after McDaniel’s hiring was announced Friday, but that the cable network’s executives “heard us, understood and corrected course.”

“We were told in no uncertain terms that Ronna McDaniel will not be on our air, and Ronna McDaniel will not be on MSNBC,” Maddow said.

Deadline reported earlier Monday that MSNBC president Rashida Jones told staff it would be up to the individual shows whether to book McDaniel. A person familiar with the thinking of the cable network’s leadership said Jones made it clear that shows always have editorial control and that decisions about booking contributors can change based on the news.

Maddow said she wanted to explain what MSNBC executives reportedly shared about McDaniel not appearing on the cable network’s airwaves because “there has since been a level in other parts of the company to obfuscate that in the press and to make it seem as if that didn’t happen. at MSNBC. I can assure you this happened at MSNBC.”

NBC News and MSNBC declined to comment late Monday.

Joy Reid, host of MSNBC’s “The ReidOut,” said McDaniel’s association with Trump “is not about having Republicans on” NBC News platforms or “fairness and balance.”

Her hiring ahead of the 2024 election in which Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, Reid said, “is capitulating in advance to an autocrat by saying, ‘Yes, we will take your apparatchik and allow them to be elevated and join us get on stage with journalists. ”

Nicolle Wallace, who publishes “Deadline: White House” on MSNBC and is a former White House communications director under President George W. Bush, said McDaniel’s actions would embolden “election deniers.”

“What we’ve also been telling election deniers is not only that they can do that on our airwaves, but that they can do that as one of us, an employee with an NBC News badge, as paid contributors to our hallowed airwaves, said Wallace, who was critical of the party under Trump.

Earlier Monday, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” said they would not have McDaniel as a guest.

“To be clear, we believe that NBC News should seek out conservative Republican voices to provide balance in their election coverage,” Brzezinski told viewers. “But they should be conservative Republicans, and not someone who has used her position of power to be an election denier against democracy.”

“And we hope that NBC will reconsider its decision,” she added.

On Sunday, McDaniel joined “Meet the Press” in her first media appearance since stepping down as chair of the RNC this month.

“Meet the Press” moderator Kristen Welker told viewers that McDaniel was there for a news interview and that her appearance had been planned weeks before the announcement of her role as a paid contributor for NBC News.

Welker asked McDaniel if she was being fired as chair of the RNC, a position she held for seven years.

“He definitely wanted me to step aside and wanted Michael Whatley and Lara Trump to come in,” McDaniel said, referring to Trump and the current RNC chairmen.

In a departure from Trump, McDaniel said during the interview, “I don’t think people who committed violent acts on January 6 should be released.”

McDaniel also said President Joe Biden won the 2020 election “fair and square,” adding, “He is the legitimate president.”

Her presence later in the program drew criticism from NBC News Chief Political Analyst Chuck Todd, who objected to her appearance as a paid contributor.

“She is now a paid contributor for NBC News. I have no idea if the answer she gave you was because she didn’t want to screw up her contract,” Todd told Welker during the roundtable discussion after the McDaniel interview. “She would have us believe she spoke on behalf of the RNC while the RNC paid for it. So she has credibility issues that she is still dealing with.

In announcing McDaniel’s role at NBC News, senior vice president of politics Carrie Budoff Brown said McDaniel would “support our industry-leading reporting by providing an insider perspective on national politics and the future of the Republican Party – which she led through some of the most turbulent and challenging moments in political history.”

“NBC News has a legacy of serving its audience through reporting that reflects and explores the diverse perspectives of American voters,” the announcement read, noting other political analysts at the network who represent a range of views, including Marc Short, who served as head of staff for Vice President Mike Pence, and Ben Rhodes, a speechwriter and deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama.

Another former RNC chairman, Michael Steele, became a political analyst on MSNBC after his leadership of the party ended in 2011. He currently co-hosts a show on the network on weekends. Jen Psaki, a former White House press secretary under Biden, appeared on MSNBC in 2022 and also hosts a show on the network.

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