Can NBC Be Shamed Into Reversing Its Ronna McDaniel Hire?

Can NBC Be Shamed Into Reversing Its Ronna McDaniel Hire?

Can NBC Be Shamed Into Reversing Its Ronna McDaniel Hire?

A weekend of scorching criticism, even from network talent and executives, led to some limits on the Trump hack’s network role. But why is she there at all?


The weekend saw a remarkable backlash to NBC’s hiring of recently deposed Republican National Committee chair Ronna “Don’t Say Romney” McDaniel as a political analyst. Social media exploded, and within hours MSNBC head Rashida Jones said the former RNC leader (and niece of Mitt Romney, who stopped using her birth name as her middle name because Trump objected) would not be appearing on any of the liberal cable network’s shows (though Politico reported that Jones had backed the hiring). News reports credited an outcry by anchors and contributors for the decision.

Even more shocking, former Meet The Press host Chuck Todd blasted his own network on air Sunday morning, after Kristen Welker interviewed McDaniel (an interview she said was planned before McDaniel was hired).

“Our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this position,” he told her.

“This will be a news interview,” Welker said before bringing on McDaniel, “and I was not involved in her hiring.”

Welker may have been the toughest I’ve ever seen her in her McDaniel sit-down, though the trained flack was able to squirm out of most corners. She self-righteously insisted that her neutrality in the GOP primary, especially her decision to sponsor debates, was what cost her the RNC chair. In fact, McDaniel was anything but neutral, issuing a statement in January urging Nikki Haley to drop out and consolidate the party behind Trump, and briefly entertaining the notion of declaring Trump the “presumptive nominee” while Haley was still running.

In many ways, she’s still Trump’s girl. She defended a deal the RNC made to raise funds jointly with Trump and allow funding to flow first to his legal bills. “As long as the donors know, if they feel strongly to support his legal bills, they have every right to do so.”

She did break with Trump on the issue of freeing those convicted of January 6 crimes. “I do not think people who committed violent acts on January 6 should be free,” McDaniel responded. “If you attacked our Capitol and…you’ve been convicted, then that should stay,” she added. But she still doesn’t blame Trump for the insurrection. “I don’t hold [Trump] responsible for” the January 6 attack on the Capitol. “I don’t think he wanted the attack on the Capitol.”

But she said she did not publicly differ with Trump about his January 6 defense until now, because, “as the RNC chair, you take one for the team. Now I get to be a little bit more myself.” But “herself” still appears to be a woman who defends Trump lies, especially about election integrity.

While McDaniel admitted that Biden won “fair and square” and added that “he’s the legitimate president,” she continued to point to vague “issues in 2020,” mainly with mail ballots, adding, “A lot of people believe Joe Biden is president, but believe there were problems, and I believe that both can be true.”

Welker confronted McDaniel for joining Trump on a November call to pressure two election officials in Wayne County, Mich. (home of Detroit), not to certify election results. McDaniel insisted that the call was just a response to alleged “threats and abuse” that caused the pair to flip from opposing certification to supporting it. “Our call that night was to say, ‘Are you OK? Vote your conscience,’ it was not pushing them to do anything.” She continued to say “there were precincts that didn’t align” in Wayne County, despite audits to the contrary.

Welker closed by urging McDaniel to “speak to the people who hold you responsible for enabling Donald Trump, who don’t trust you.” At first she seemed to say she couldn’t speak to people who didn’t trust her, then blabbed some word salad about listening to one another.

On the panel after the interview, Chuck Todd wasted no time going after both his bosses at NBC and McDaniel. “I have no idea whether any answer she gave to you was because she didn’t want to mess up her contract. She wants us to believe that she was speaking for the RNC when the RNC was paying for it. So she has credibility issues that she still has to deal with. Is she speaking for herself or is she speaking on behalf of who’s paying her?” Todd went on: “There is a reason why there’s a lot of journalists at NBC News uncomfortable with this. Many of our dealings with the RNC in the past few years have been met with gaslighting, have been met with character assassination.”

Panelist Kimberly Atkins Stohr said McDaniel lied in the interview about her involvement in Michigan election issues. “She tried to keep the votes of Black voters in Detroit from being counted,” she noted (Stohr is herself from Detroit). Even conservative Stephen Hayes said McDaniel failed to acknowledge the central role she played in putting RNC muscle and credibility behind Trump’s false election claims and phony legal gambits, to the point that “half of all Republicans think the 2020 election was stolen.”

Well done, all.

The cynic in me wonders whether this episode lets NBC look like it tolerates debate and dissent from its staffers, but still hold on to its new and wildly inappropriate “political analyst.” The dissent continues: Monday morning, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski joined the chorus. “We weren’t asked our opinion of the hiring but, if we were, we would have strongly objected to it for several reasons,” Scarborough said on Morning Joe, with Brzezinski saying, “We hope NBC will reconsider its decision.”

While liberal MSNBC watchers may be mollified by the promise McDaniel will never sully their airwaves, all media consumers should be horrified by the notion that McDaniel will show up elsewhere on the storied platforms of NBC News, whether that’s Nightly News with Lester Holt or regular convention and election night political coverage, and perhaps, again, on Meet the Press. Let’s hope public opinion continues to scorch the network’s “bosses” and gets them to rescind their truly terrible decision entirely.

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