Ronna McDaniel Out at NBC News in Wake of On-Air Backlash

Ronna McDaniel is out at NBC News. The former Republican National Committee head has been let go just four days after it was announced that she’d been hired as a paid contributor — a position that reportedly would have earned her $300,000 a year.

NBCUniversal News Group chairman Cesar Conde announced the news to his staff via email on Tuesday, according to CNN alum Brian Stelter: “There is no doubt that the last several days have been difficult for the News Group. After listening to the legitimate concerns of many of you, I have decided that Ronna McDaniel will not be an NBC News contributor.”

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Conde added: “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… We continue to be committed to the principle that we must have diverse viewpoints on our programs, and to that end, we will redouble our efforts to seek voices that represent different parts of the political spectrum.”

McDaniel technically made her debut as an NBC News employee — or more accurately a “news interview” subject, as moderator Kristen Welker remarked — on the March 24 edition of Meet the Press. There, McDaniel stuck to many of her past talking points as RNC chair, though she notably tempered her support for former President Donald Trump’s vowing to “free those charged and convicted of crimes related to [the] January 6 [insurrection],” if he is reelected in November. (Asked by Welker about about that pivot, McDaniel shrugged, “When you’re the RNC chair, you kind of take one for the whole team. Right now, I get to be a little bit more myself.”)

Following McDaniel’s Sunday Meet the Press appearance, chief political analyst/former moderator Chuck Todd said to Welker, “I think our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this situation,” interviewing a news subject who is now also on the NBC News payroll. “I have no idea whether any answer she gave to you was because she didn’t want to mess up her contract.”

Come Monday, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s Morning Joe told viewers that he and peers such as co-host Mika Brzezinski “weren’t asked our opinion” on hiring McDaniel “but if we were, we would have strongly objected to it,” he said, citing the former RNC chair’s role in Trump’s “fake electorate scheme” and his “pressuring election officials to not certify election results” in 2020.

As Brzezinski put it, “NBC News should seek out conservative, Republican voices to provide balance in their election coverage, 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.”

On Monday evening, Rachel Maddow on her eponymous program detailed McDaniel’s role in perpetuating Trump’s election-denying agenda, and as such said it is “inexplicable” that NBC News decided to put on its payroll this enemy of democracy, “and I hope they will reverse the decision.”

Maddow further invited NBC News decision-makers to “take a minute. Acknowledge that maybe it wasn’t the right call. It is the sign of strength, not weakness, to acknowledge when you are wrong. It is a sign of strength. And our country needs us to be strong right now.”

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