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NBC cut ties with Ronna McDaniel following internal backlash

Some on-air hosts openly criticized the network during TV broadcasts over the weekend and on Monday.

Some on-air hosts openly criticized the network during TV broadcasts over the weekend and on Monday.

Ronna McDaniel. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)
Ronna McDaniel. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Comcast’s NBC Universal has severed ties with former Republican National Committee Chairperson Ronna McDaniel and will no longer include her as an on-air contributor in news and political coverage, an executive affirmed in a memo on Tuesday.

The memo, written by NBC News Group Chairman Cesar Conde, said he made the key decision to move on from having McDaniel contribute to NBC News products following internal backlash from staffers who expressed concerns over her political leanings and, in particular, her defense of former President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud and interference.

Some of that internal strife spilled into the public when “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd and MSNBC on-air columnist Rachel Maddow criticized the network’s hiring of McDaniel.

“The fact that McDaniel is on the payroll at NBC News — to me that is inexplicable,” Maddow said on her Monday evening commentary program, likening the hiring of McDaniel at NBC News to a district attorney hiring a “mobster.”

On Tuesday, Conde said he heard the outcry of staffers who objected to McDaniel’s hiring and made the key decision to not move forward with her employment.

“No organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned,” Conde wrote. “Over the last few days, it has become clear that this appointment undermines that goal.”

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

Television news organizations — particularly those with cable news outlets — regularly hire former government officials to serve in expert positions, relying on their experience and knowledge of certain matters to add “color” to coverage on a newsworthy item.

A report from Axios on Tuesday found more than half of former White House press secretaries dating back to 2000 had gone on to accept on-air jobs at TV networks, with roles ranging from paid contributors to on-air hosts.

NBC News and MSNBC are among those that have relied on the revolving door of politics to help staff up their panel of on-air hosts experts. Jen Psaki, a former State Department spokesperson who served as a White House press secretary under current President Joe Biden, launched her own talk show on MSNBC and NBC’s streaming service Peacock last year. Joe Scarborough, a former Congressman from Florida, has co-hosted a morning show on the network since 2007.

CNN, Fox News, ABC News and CBS News also tap former political officials to serve in expert on-air roles, and some upstart, right-of-center channels like Newsmax and The First have hired former Trump officials to host their own programs.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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