What Exactly Did NBC Think Was Going to Happen??

Top journalists and media personalities at NBC are outraged that the network would give Ronna McDaniel, a pro-Trump election denier, a $300,000 role amid budget cuts and layoffs.

What Exactly Did NBC Think Was Going to Happen??

For years, the pro-Trump far-right has aggressively sowed distrust of American journalists as well as distrust of basic truths like the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. So, you can imagine the frustration and confusion when news broke on Friday that executives at NBC had unanimously chosen to hire former RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel—a woman who, up until Sunday, pushed 2020 election conspiracy theories—as a paid contributor on the network. McDaniel is set to make $300,000 per year in her position as a commentator across varying NBC (but not MSNBC) shows—all as the company has seen layoffs and other cuts in recent months.

Over the weekend, according to several reports, the news unsurprisingly plunged the network into chaos. Star talent like top NBC political analyst Chuck Todd and sister network MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe have basically called McDaniel’s hiring bullshit while various network employees have spoken about their disdain to different media outlets. On Sunday’s Meet the Press, speaking to host Kristen Welker, Todd sharply criticized McDaniel’s credibility: “I don’t know what to believe. She is now a paid contributor by NBC News.” He continued, “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?”

And on Monday morning, Scarborough also had words about the anti-abortion hard-liner’s new position: “We weren’t asked our opinion of the hiring but, if we were, we would have strongly objected to it for several reasons,” he said. “We hope NBC will reconsider its decision. It goes without saying that she will not be a guest on ‘Morning Joe’ in her capacity as a paid contributor.”

According to Politico, after stepping down from the RNC earlier this month, McDaniel sought out cable news contributor positions at several networks and “had serious discussions with CNN and ABC.” NBC ultimately won McDaniel over due to her “good rapport” with NBC News executives Carrie Budoff Brown (senior vice president of politics) and Rebecca Blumenstein (president of editorial). But NBC and MSNBC employees and journalists told the outlet that NBC executives who hired McDaniel didn’t consult any of them first—even as McDaniel’s RNC frequently pushed dangerous lies about journalists that required media personalities like Todd to rely on personal security at varying points.

Speaking to Politico, NBC and MSNBC journalists and analysts were also confused at what exactly McDaniel supposedly brings to the table—she doesn’t have relationships with Trump or Republican Party leaders in Congress and she also doesn’t get along with the party’s anti-Trump wing, since they believe she helped swing the election for him. “Across MSNBC they have been cutting contributors,” one unnamed MSNBC host said. “So everyone’s like, what the fuck? You found 300 for her?”

Mike Sington, a former senior executive at NBC Universal who worked at the company for three decades, called for viewers to boycott NBC’s Meet the Press since McDaniel first appeared on the show over the weekend. “McDaniel took part in Trump’s [alleged] plot to assemble a fake slate of electors to overturn the results of the 2020 election. She was also [allegedly] involved in pressuring Michigan officials to not certify the vote,” he wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “McDaniel is an ultra MAGA Trump sycophant who has constantly lied about the 2020 election results. She does not deserve a platform on NBC.”

The major personnel decision at NBC also comes amid a critical election year and at a time when disinformation and media distrust are rampant, in no small part thanks to how McDaniel helped lead her party. And, as women and pregnant people have suffered under the cruelty of abortion bans for almost two years, McDaniel has spent the last several months insisting there’s nothing wrong with abortion bans—just Republican politicians’ messaging about the issue. It’s just bizarre that the same network that platforms people who have experienced the toll of these laws, which McDaniel has helped legitimize (while also shoring up support for a rising tide of right-wing fascism), would then turn and hire her.

We now wait with bated breath for what MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow will have to say—if anything—about McDaniel’s hiring during her prime-time slot on Monday night…

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