CAA Cuts Ties With Ronna McDaniel Amid Exit Talks With NBC News


CAA, the agency that helped broker the recent deal that brought former Republican National Committee chief Ronna McDaniel to NBC News as a political analyst, has parted ways with her, according to a person familiar with the matter, as she wrangles with the media outlet over appropriate terms for an exit.

McDaniel has been advised to seek an attorney to represent her, this person said.

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A representative for CAA did not respond immediately to a query seeking comment.

Senior executives at NBC News were meeting Tuesday to discuss how to handle the thorny question of McDaniel’s presence on the outlet’s roster of contributors after several of the most prominent anchors at the outlet its sibling, MSNBC, including Chuck Todd, Nicolle Wallace, Joy Reid and Rachel Maddow, rebuked the decision to hire her on air.

Drama around McDaniel has swirled for days across the NBC News portfolio, with anchors ranging from pushing back on the hire in remarks delivered on air on shows such as “Meet The Press,” “Morning Joe” and “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Such an overt rebuke is unusual, to say the least. The fact that it was allowed to be put on public display is rarer still.

NBC News has tapped other conservatives and political operatives as analysts, including columnist Charlie Sykes and, more recently, Marc Short, the former chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence. The critical difference between these contributors and McDaniel is that the former were not seen as supporting an overthrow of systems of U.S. government. Many NBC News staffers felt they could not interview McDaniel without questioning her credibility, a process that would overwhelm whatever insight she might be able to deliver.

Other TV-news outlets have tested similar hires. CBS News generated internal backlash last year when it named Mick Mulvaney, a former Trump chief of staff, as a political analyst. The relationship did not last long; Mulvaney now works as a contributor for Nexstar Media’s NewsNation cable outlet.

All of NBC News’ senior executives signed off on the plan to bring McDaniel aboard, according to people familiar with the matter. Yet under an unorthodox corporate structure, most of those people wouldn’t have been tasked with managing McDaniel’s relationships with programs and producers, and therefore had little skin in the game. Since the exit of former NBC News president Noah Oppenheim in January of last year, NBC News has been broken up into smaller units, each with its own leader. The “Today” morning franchise is managed in one unit, “NBC Nightly News” and streaming in another, and newsgathering, “Meet The Press” and “Dateline” in a third. What’s more, MSNBC and CNBC also have separate management teams.

McDaniel’s hire, seen as a bid to gain access to the thinking of the current Republican party, was announced by Carrie Budoff Brown, the NBC News executive who oversees “Meet The Press” and political coverage. But Budoff Brown reports to Rebecca Blumenstein, president of editorial for NBC News, and has little say over how McDaniel might be incorporated into “Today,” MSNBC, “NBC Nightly News” or NBC News Now, the company’s streaming outlet.

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