NBC News reverses decision to hire former RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel

By Thomson Reuters Mar 26, 2024 | 7:05 PM

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NBC News on Tuesday reversed its decision to hire former Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel as a paid contributor, a senior official in the company told staff following high-profile dissent over her hiring by many at the network.

McDaniel’s hiring was criticized by multiple news anchors and on-air personalities, including those at NBC’s liberal-leaning affiliate MSNBC, who condemned the former RNC chair for her involvement in former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“After listening to the legitimate concerns of many of you, I have decided that Ronna McDaniel will not be an NBC News contributor,” NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde said in an email to staff.

“I want to personally apologize to our team members who felt we let them down. While this was a collective recommendation by some members of our leadership team, I approved it and take full responsibility for it,” Conde added.

Reuters was unable to obtain contact information for McDaniel to seek comment from her.

NBC News, part of the NBCUniversal division of Comcast, had announced McDaniel’s hiring last Friday and said she had a contract to provide insight and analysis on U.S. politics and the 2024 election.

McDaniel, in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that aired on Sunday, said Trump had wanted her out of the RNC and said she did not think that those who carried out violence in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots should be freed.

“When you’re the RNC chair you – you kind of take one for the whole team, right? Now I get to be a little bit more myself, right? This is what I believe,” she said when asked about why she had not been critical of Trump earlier. Even so, McDaniel said she did not “hold (Trump) responsible” for the attack at the Capitol.

Trump has made repeated baseless claims that his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden in 2020 was the result of election fraud.

Among those who criticized McDaniel’s hiring by NBC were the co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC’s top anchor Rachel Maddow, and political analyst Chuck Todd.

McDaniel in late February stepped down from the RNC top job, after facing pressure following sluggish fundraising and a weaker-than-expected performance for Republicans in the 2022 congressional midterm elections.

McDaniel is hardly the first person to move from a political or government position to a high-profile media position. Jen Psaki, who was White House press secretary under President Joe Biden, joined MSNBC; Kayleigh McEnany, who was White House press secretary under Trump, joined Fox News.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Leslie Adler)