Meltdown at NBC and MSNBC as Ronna McDaniel Is Hired

Meltdown at NBC and MSNBC as Ronna McDaniel Is Hired

The controversy within NBC over the hiring of Ronna McDaniel spilled into Monday morning as more of the network’s top figures criticized the decision to bring on the former RNC chair, escalating a battle over the alignment between major media companies and loyalists of Donald Trump.

The choice to hire McDaniel, supported unanimously by top network executives, has caused division and unrest within one of America’s most esteemed news organizations. Internal dissatisfaction has been evident on text chains and Slack channels since the announcement of the deal last week.

The discord became public on Sunday when Chuck Todd, the network’s top political analyst, openly criticized executives shortly after McDaniel’s debut appearance on “Meet the Press” with Kristen Welker.

“There’s a reason why many journalists at NBC News are uncomfortable with this,” Todd remarked to Welker, highlighting past instances of “gaslighting” and “character assassination” from McDaniel’s tenure at the RNC.

Welker and the producers of “Meet the Press” were aware in advance of Todd’s comments, according to sources familiar with the situation, and did not discourage him from voicing his concerns.

These on-air objections represent a potential turning point in political media, as news organizations grapple with how to fairly represent voices from the Trump right without legitimizing election deniers or bad-faith actors who have attacked their own reporters.

“We weren’t consulted about the hiring, but if we were, we would have strongly opposed it for several reasons,” said Joe Scarborough at the beginning of “Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s flagship morning program. Co-host Mika Brzezinski added, “We hope NBC will reconsider its decision. It’s clear she won’t be appearing on ‘Morning Joe’ as a paid contributor.”

They then played clips of McDaniel questioning the 2020 election outcome.

NBC insiders are now waiting to see if other hosts and contributors will also express their views, particularly during MSNBC’s prime-time lineup, where Rachel Maddow is set to go live at 9 p.m. on Monday.

The future of the NBC-McDaniel relationship remains uncertain amid the uproar. The relationship began when NBC sought McDaniel to secure a Republican presidential debate last year, a high-priority event for the network. NBC executives built a rapport with McDaniel during this process, leading to the recent hiring deal.

However, the internal backlash began after the announcement that McDaniel would appear “across all NBC News platforms,” causing concern among MSNBC staff. While there is no ban on McDaniel at MSNBC, the cable network’s shows can choose whether to feature her.

Interviews with NBC executives and staff following Todd’s public criticism revealed a breakdown in trust and communication within the company, particularly between its Washington bureau and leadership in New York.

The hiring of McDaniel, with a salary of nearly $300,000 per year, amid recent layoffs and cuts within the news division, has raised questions about priorities and decisions within NBC.

The miscommunication extended to NBC’s handling of McDaniel’s appearance, as she was not aware that her interview with Welker would become confrontational.

Todd’s outspoken critique on Sunday reflects years of frustrations within NBC, but it has garnered support from colleagues and NBC News and MSNBC viewers.

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