Mar 24, 2024 - Politics & Policy

NBC is in uproar over Ronna McDaniel's hiring

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 Kristen Welker (R) interviews Ronna McDaniel on Sunday. Screenshot: NBC News

Kristen Welker (R) interviews Ronna McDaniel on Sunday. Screenshot: NBC News

NBC News and MSNBC are in an uproar over the hiring of former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel as a political analyst, which took top journalists at the network by surprise when it was announced Friday.

  • In a rare on-air protest, Chuck Todd — one of the most recognizable faces of NBC News — said on "Meet the Press" Sunday that McDaniel has "credibility issues that she still has to deal with."

Why it matters: With former President Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, networks are trying to reflect the MAGA perspective without giving a platform to election deniers.

Driving the news: "I think our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this situation," Todd told moderator Kristen Welker as the roundtable began after she grilled McDaniel in the previous segment.

  • Todd said a lot of NBC journalists are "uncomfortable with this because many of our professional dealings with the RNC over the last six years have been met with gaslighting, have been met with character assassination."

State of play: Friday's announcement said McDaniel, who left her RNC post on March 8 under pressure from Trump, "will contribute her expert insight and analysis on American politics and the 2024 election across all NBC News platforms."

  • "It couldn't be a more important moment to have a voice like Ronna's on the team," said Carrie Budoff Brown, NBC News SVP of Politics.
  • McDaniel's hiring was supported unanimously by NBC News leaders, a source familiar with the conversations told me.

What we're hearing: The view of NBC News executives is that McDaniel is one voice among dozens of contributors, and that the network can't ignore the views of a significant part of the country.

Behind the scenes: MSNBC President Rashida Jones made the rounds of anchors and producers and reassured them that they have editorial independence to decide who they book, a network source says.

During the "Meet" interview, scheduled before McDaniel's hiring was announced, she said President Biden won "fair and square" — a reversal of what she told CNN's Chris Wallace last year: "I don't think he won it fair."

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