MSNBC Anchor Criticizes Ronna McDaniel’s Hiring at NBC News; Rachel Maddow Calls it “Inexplicable”


MSNBC’s prominent anchors criticized NBC News on Monday for hiring former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, revealing internal divisions on television.

Rachel Maddow, during a half-hour commercial-free monologue on MSNBC, described the decision to hire McDaniel as “inexplicable.” She portrayed McDaniel as part of a lineage of fascists and individuals attempting to subvert America’s political process. Maddow highlighted McDaniel’s involvement in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election, suggesting that she is part of a broader agenda to undermine the government system.

NBC News sparked controversy late last week by revealing its decision to hire Ronna McDaniel as a political contributor. This move quickly drew criticism from prominent staffers at both NBC News and MSNBC, who argued that McDaniel’s support for former President Trump and her attacks on journalists rendered her unsuitable for a paid position at a journalistic organization.

The visible dissent expressed on-screen suggests that McDaniel’s continued presence at NBC is unsustainable, according to individuals familiar with the operations of the news division. Many find it difficult to envision which producer or program would still be willing to feature her. Internally, some staff members are surprised by the lack of action from Cesar Conde, the chairman of NBCUniversal News Group, or Rebecca Blumenstein, the president of newsgathering at NBC News, who have not yet reversed the decision regarding McDaniel.

NBC News opted not to provide a comment on Monday evening.

Rachel Maddow’s remarks followed similar sentiments expressed throughout MSNBC’s Monday schedule by hosts such as Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of “Morning Joe,” Nicolle Wallace on “Deadline: White House,” Joy Reid on “The ReidOut,” and Jennifer Psaki on “Inside.” Among these hosts, Psaki offered relatively concise remarks, stating that while she and McDaniel both have backgrounds as political operatives, they diverge significantly in their contributions to a news organization. According to Psaki, McDaniel’s presence does not advance the political discourse.

Wallace and Reid took a different approach, inviting guests, including a Yale legal scholar and conservative commentator Charlie Sykes, to scrutinize the decision to hire McDaniel as a paid contributor.

The uproar originated at NBC News, where Chuck Todd, the former moderator of “Meet The Press,” took a prominent stance. During a conversation with current anchor Kristen Welker on air, Todd asserted that NBC News executives owed Welker an apology for placing her in a difficult position. He emphasized the discomfort felt by many journalists at NBC News, citing instances of gaslighting and character assassination during professional interactions over the past six years. Todd even suggested that McDaniel’s contributor deal might have been brokered in exchange for access.

Reports of McDaniel’s deal stirred early reactions at MSNBC, with indications that she would make appearances across the NBC News platform. Rashida Jones, president of MSNBC, became aware of the unrest among the network’s anchors and staff. After hearing various perspectives on the matter, Jones informed employees that there was no mandate regarding McDaniel’s appearances on any program, allowing individual shows to make their own decisions.

While the announcement of McDaniel’s hiring was made by Carrie Budoff Brown, the NBC News senior vice president overseeing political coverage and “Meet The Press,” the decision was ultimately approved by all of NBC News’ top leaders. However, it’s possible that not all of them were as closely involved in the decision-making process as one might expect from a news chief.

Under the leadership of Cesar Conde, NBCUniversal’s news operations have been organized into multiple units, each focusing on different aspects of news coverage. This includes separate units for “Today,” “NBC Nightly News,” and streaming content, as well as units for “Dateline” and “Meet The Press,” along with the organization of news staffing and collection. MSNBC and CNBC are managed as separate divisions under different leadership. While all of these units report to Conde, the decentralized structure means that many of NBC News’ top programs no longer operate under the direct oversight of a single NBC News president, as they have in previous years.

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