Update: MSNBC Staff Upset Over NBC News Hiring Michigan's Ronna McDaniel As On-Air Commentator

March 24, 2024, 4:50 AM by  Allan Lengel

Ronna Romney McDaniel

Update: 5 a.m. Sunday: The Wall Street Journal reports that NBC has gotten internal backlash over the hiring of former RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel as an on-air commentator, and has assured staff that she will not appear on the liberal-leaning MSNBC station.

An internal memo  on Friday said that McDaniel had been hired to appear "across all NBC platforms," the Journal reported.

The Journal reports a number of anchors and producers at MSNBC expressed concern about McDaniel's ties to Donald Trump. MSNBC is ranked second among cable news network, behind Fox News but in front of CNN. 

Update: 12:50 p.m. Sunday: On Sunday, ex-RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel appeared on "Meet the Press," with host Kristen Welker,  where she said she opposed Donald Trump's promise to free the convicted Jan. 6 rioters if elected. She also defended her call in November 2020 to convince two GOP Wayne County Board of Canvassers to hold off on certifying the presidential election.

Before the interview, Welker told viewers that the interview with McDaniel had been arranged before it was announced Friday that NBC had hired McDaniel as an on-air commentator. 

After her appearance, during a discussion with a roundtable of journalists, NBC's chief political analyst and former host of the show, Chuck Todd, ripped into NBC for putting Welker in an uncomfortable situation.

"Let me deal with the elephant in the room," Todd said. "I think our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this situation. Because I don't know what to believe. She is now a paid contributor by NBC News. I have no idea whether any answers she gave to you was because she didn't want to mess up her contract. She wants us to believe she was speaking to the RNC when the RNC was paying...So she has credibility issues that she still has to deal with."

"Is she speaking for herself or is she speaking on behalf of who's paying her?

"I think your interview did a good job of exposing, I think, many of the contradictions," Todd said to Welker. "And look, there's a reason a lot of journalists at NBC News are uncomfortable with this because many of our professional dealings with the RNC over the past six years have been met with gaslighting, have been met with character assassination." 

"You got put into an impossible situation," he said to Welker. "Booking this interview and then all sudden the rug's pulled out from under you. You find out she's being paid to show up. That's unfortunate for this program, but I'm glad you did the best you could." 

Another panelist, Boston Globe opinion writer Kimberly Atkins Stohr agreed with Todd, saying of McDaniel: "Her credibility is completely shot."

"I know she habitually lied. She habitually joined Trump in attacking the press, including this network in a way that put journalists at risk, in danger."

"We knew that she did participate in efforts to keep votes in Detroit, from my hometown; so I take this both journalistically serious and personal; to keep the votes from mostly Black voters in Detroit from being counted that night."

Another panelist, Stephen Hayes, co-founder of the conservative publication, The Dispatch, said it was a good thing for NBC to have different political viewpoints.

But he agreed McDaniel has "huge credibilty problems, not because she's been a partisan spinner on behalf of the Republican party, but because she not only presided, but directed, drove, the QAnonization of the Republican Party during her tenure."

There's been speculation that McDaneil, the niece of Sen. Mitt Romney, might run for governor in Michigan in 2026. But publicly she has not expressed interest in the position that will be vacated by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is term-limited.


Report From Saturday

Northville resident Ronna McDaniel, who stepped down as head of the Republican National Committee earlier this month, has joined NBC News as a contributing commentator, the New York Times reports.

McDaniel, 51, will appear on NBC and MSNBC. She is expected to make her first appearance for the network Sunday on "Meet The Press."

“It couldn’t be a more important moment to have a voice like Ronna’s on the team,” Carrie Budoff Brown, who oversees NBC News political coverage, wrote in a memo, according to the Times. 

MSNBC is considered a liberal media outlet, and most of the guests are decisively anti-Donald Trump.

Last month, McDaniel wrote an emial to RNC staff:  

"I have decided to step aside at our spring training on March 8 in Houston to allow our nominee to select a chair of their choosing. The national party historically undergoes some form of change when a presumptive nominee emerges, and my intention has always been to honor that tradition."

McDaniel and Trump had a good relationship in the beginning of her tenure in 2017. But in time they privately bickered and disagreed on matters. 

And while she helped Trump win Michigan in 2016 as chair of the state party, she didn't fare so well after that in the state and elsewhere. Mainstream Republicans blamed Trump for the poor showings around the country.

But some of the MAGA base blamed the poor outcomes on McDaniel.

Read more:  New York Times

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