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NBC Has Cut Ties With Former RNC Head Ronna McDaniel After Employee Objections, Some on the Air
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By Associated Press
Published 4 weeks ago on
March 27, 2024

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel gets fired from NBC News after spending less than a week on the job and facing employee objections. (AP/Rebecca Blackwell)

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NEW YORK — 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 followed 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. Over the last few days, it has become clear that this appointment undermines that goal,” Conde said. But he said the network remained committed to centering “voices that represent different parts of the political spectrum.”

There was no immediate comment from McDaniel, who stepped down as RNC leader just over two weeks ago. 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.

A Quick Change of Heart

NBC announced Friday that McDaniel would contribute commentary across network platforms. It said it wanted the perspective of someone with inside knowledge about the Republican Party and former President Donald Trump heading into the 2024 election, in which Trump is seeking a second term.

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.

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.

On his Truth Social site, Trump said, “These Radical Left Lunatics are CRAZY, and the top people at NBC ARE WEAK.”

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.

Hiring Politicians to Comment on The News Has a History

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. Former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebius is an ABC News contributor and Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former White House communications director during the Trump administration, is a CNN commentator.

Conde said that NBC News remains committed to the principle that there must be diverse voices on the network. “And to that end, we will redouble our efforts to seek voices that represent different parts of the political spectrum.”

McDaniel’s tenure at NBC may have lasted less than a week, but a mess surrounding it could last much longer. She was dropped Tuesday by Creative Artists Agency, who she hired to negotiate her TV deal, and has been consulting with lawyers since learning that deal had ended.

The succession of MSNBC stars who denounced McDaniel and the hiring reached its apogee during the weekly show by Maddow, the network’s most popular personality. She spent nearly half an hour on the issue, drawing a comparison between crackpot efforts by authoritarians to gain power in the U.S., and the GOP backing of Trump under McDaniel’s leadership. She called her hiring by NBC News “inexplicable,” comparing it to a mobster being given a position in a district attorney’s office.

Maddow appeared Tuesday on Reid’s show. Reid said she was grateful for the decision to oust McDaniel, and Maddow echoed that.

“To see essentially the unanimous feeling among all the journalists … and all of the senior staff and producers and everybody in this building about this was one thing,” she said. “Then to see the executives and the leadership hear that and respond to it and be willing to change course … I have deep respect for that.”

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