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NBC News drops Ronna McDaniel after on-air revolt from channel’s stars

Former Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Ronna McDaniel has been dropped from her new role as a commentator with NBC News, just days after her hiring was announced, in response to an on-air backlash from several of the network’s star anchors.

Cesar Conde, NBCUniversal News Group chairman, informed staff they would be severing ties with Ms McDaniel in a memo on Tuesday that read: “After listening to the legitimate concerns of many of you, I have decided that Ronna McDaniel will not be an NBC News contributor.

“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.

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

Mr Conde added: “Our initial decision was made because of our deep commitment to presenting our audiences with a widely diverse set of viewpoints and experiences, particularly during these consequential times.

“We continue to be committed to the principle that we must have diverse viewpoints on our programs, and to that end, we will redouble our efforts to seek voices that represent different parts of the political spectrum.”

Ms McDaniel was recently ousted from her role with the RNC after Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, became dissatisfied with the committee’s fundraising efforts in the wake of the 2022 midterm elections.

He called for her removal after winning the South Carolina primary in February and quickly moved to install Michael Whatley and his own daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chairs in her stead, a brutal response given Ms McDaniel’s seven years of dogged loyalty in the role, which saw her promote Mr Trump’s bogus claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, a position that so incensed NBC employees.

Her hiring as a paid contributor on a $300,000 deal was first announced last Friday, with NBC’s senior vice president of politics Carrie Budoff Brown saying it “couldn’t be a more important moment to have a voice like Ronna’s on the team”, but immediately attracted an angry backlash.

Those tensions reached the air on Sunday after Ms McDaniel had made her debut on Meet the Press with Kristen Welker, when NBC’s political director Chuck Todd admonished his bosses for hiring her on the same show and suggested they owed Welker an apology.

During that interview, the latter had pressed Ms McDaniel about her “failed” tenure as RNC chair, a notion she pushed back on, defending her record of recruiting women and people of colour to run for congressional seats.

Welker also asked her to admit that President Joe Biden had won the 2020 election “fair and square”. She did so.

Ronna McDaniel (AP)
Ronna McDaniel (AP)

Unmoved, Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski added their voices to the growing torrent of criticism on Monday.

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

“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.”

On Monday evening, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow joined in, commenting: “The fact that McDaniel is on the payroll at NBC News – to me that is inexplicable.

“You wouldn’t hire a wise guy, you wouldn’t hire a made man, like a mobster, to work in a DA’s office.”

Mr Trump has since reacted to the news of her being dropped in gloating fashion on Truth Social, seemingly indicating his past alliance with Ms McDaniel is well and truly over.

“Wow! Ronna McDaniel got fired by Fake News NBC,” the candidate wrote.

“She only lasted two days, and this after McDaniel went out of her way to say what they wanted to hear. It leaves her in a very strange place, it’s called NEVER NEVERLAND, and it’s not a place you want to be.

“These Radical Left Lunatics are CRAZY, and the top people at NBC ARE WEAK. They were BROKEN and EMBARRASSED by LOW RATINGS, HIGHLY OVERPAID, ‘TALENT.’ BRING BACK FREE AND FAIR PRESS.”

In a second post, he lashed out at Todd and the “sick degenerates” who run the network and cruelly mocked Ms McDaniel for consenting, at his suggestion, to change her surname so as to dissociate herself from her uncle, Utah senator Mitt Romney, an outspoken Republican critic of Mr Trump.

“If I knew Ronna was going to troubled MSNBC, I would have advised her to change her name back to Romney, she would have had a better chance!”