MSNBC hosts criticize NBC News for hiring Ronna McDaniel


MSNBC host Rachel Maddow opened her show Monday by urging NBC News to cut ties with Ronna McDaniel, the former Republican National Committee chairwoman whom the network hired as a paid political analyst.

“The fact that Ms. McDaniel is on the payroll at NBC News, to me that is inexplicable,” Maddow said. “And I hope they will reverse their decision.”

Her remarks about NBC News were among the most pointed Monday by a lineup of MSNBC hosts who panned the decision to contract with McDaniel. Several hosts devoted segments that questioned McDaniel’s credibility.

MSNBC and NBC News are both part of the NBCUniversal News Group.

Maddow took exception with McDaniel’s staunch support of former President Donald Trump even as he refused to accept the results of the 2020 election. The former RNC chair has been accused of joining Trump to pressure Michigan election officials not to certify the 2020 presidential election there.

Maddow also said a free press must be uncowed. “We do not take it personally when we get attacked, when they say they want to put us on trial and execute us for treason,” she said.

“And so I want to associate myself with all my colleagues at MSNBC and NBC News who have voiced loud and principled objections to our company for putting on the payroll someone who hasn’t just attacked us as journalists, but someone who is part of an ongoing project to get rid of our system of government,” she said of McDaniel. “Someone who is still trying to convince Americans that this election stuff doesn’t really work. That this last election wasn’t a real result. That American elections are fraudulent.“

McDaniel did not comment publicly on Monday.

politics political (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)politics political (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)

politics political (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)

Maddow said that MSNBC staff “unanimously and instantly expressed outrage” after McDaniel’s hiring was announced Friday but that the cable network’s executives “heard us, understood and adjusted course.”

“We were told in clear terms Ronna McDaniel will not be on our air, Ronna McDaniel will not be on MSNBC,” Maddow said.

Deadline reported earlier Monday that MSNBC President Rashida Jones told staffers that it would be up to individual shows whether to book McDaniel. A person familiar with the cable network leadership’s thinking said Jones made clear that shows always have editorial control, and decisions about booking contributors can change based on the news.

Maddow said she wanted to explain what MSNBC executives purportedly shared about McDaniel not appearing on the cable network’s air because there has been “a level since in other parts of the company to muddy that up in the press and make that seem like that’s not what happened at MSNBC. I can assure you that is what happened at MSNBC.”

NBC News and MSNBC declined to comment late Monday.

Joy Reid, host of MSNBC’s “The ReidOut,” said McDaniel’s association with Trump “is not about having Republicans on” NBC News platforms or “fairness and balance.”

Her hiring ahead of a 2024 election in which Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, Reid said, “is capitulating to an autocrat in advance by saying, ‘Yes, we will take your apparatchik and allow them to be elevated and platform with us, with journalists.’”

Nicolle Wallace, who anchors “Deadline: White House” on MSNBC and is a former White House communications director under President George W. Bush, said McDaniel’s appearance would embolden “election deniers.”

“What we’ve also said to election deniers is not just that they can do that on our airwaves, but they can do that as one of us, a badge-carrying employee of NBC News, as paid contributors to our sacred airwaves,” said Wallace, who was critical of the party under Trump.

Earlier Monday, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski said that they would not ask McDaniel to be a guest.

“To be clear, we believe NBC News should seek out conservative Republican voices to provide balance in their election coverage,” Brzezinski told viewers. “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,” she added.

On Sunday, McDaniel joined “Meet the Press“ in her first media appearance since stepping down as RNC chairwoman this month.

“Meet the Press” moderator Kristen Welker told viewers that McDaniel was there for a news interview, and that her appearance was already scheduled weeks before the announcement of her role as a paid contributor for NBC News.

Welker asked McDaniel about whether she was pushed out as RNC chairwoman, a position she held for seven years.

“He absolutely wanted me to move aside and wanted Michael Whatley and Lara Trump to come in,” McDaniel said, referring to Trump and the current chairs of the RNC.

In a departure from Trump, McDaniel said during the interview, “I do not think people who committed violent acts on Jan. 6 should be freed.”

McDaniel also said President Joe Biden won the 2020 election “fair and square,” adding, “He’s the legitimate president.”

Her presence later in the program drew criticism from NBC News Chief Political Analyst Chuck Todd, who took issue with her appearing as a paid contributor.

“She is now a paid contributor by NBC News. I have no idea whether any answer she gave to you was because she didn’t want to mess up her contract,” Todd said to Welker during the roundtable panel after the McDaniel interview. “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.”

In announcing McDaniel’s role at NBC News, Carrie Budoff Brown, the senior vice president of politics, said McDaniel would “support our leading coverage by providing an insider’s perspective on national politics and on the future of the Republican Party — which she led through some of the most turbulent and challenging moments in political history.”

“NBC News has a legacy of serving its audience through reporting that reflects and examines the diverse perspectives of American voters,” the announcement read, noting other political analysts at the network who represent a range of views, including Marc Short, who was chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, and Ben Rhodes, a speechwriter and deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama.

Another former RNC chair, Michael Steele, became a political analyst on MSNBC after his leadership of the party ended in 2011. He currently co-hosts a show on the network on weekends. Jen Psaki, a former White House press secretary under Biden, began appearing on MSNBC in 2022 and also hosts a show on the network.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com



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