Ronna McDaniel faces sharp criticism after NBC hiring — including on NBC

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from CJR

McDaniel [sparred with] Kristen Welker, who succeeded Chuck Todd as host [of Meet The Press] last year, grilled her one-on-one, asking, among other things, whether it’s inappropriate for Trump to ask donors to pay his legal bills (no, McDaniel said), whether Trump was responsible for the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 (no again), and whether she disagrees with Trump’s repeated recent promises to free those jailed for crimes related to the attack should he win reelection in November. When McDaniel indicated that she does in fact disagree with Trump on that point, Welker asked her why she hadn’t said so sooner. “When you’re the RNC chair, you kind of take one for the whole team,” McDaniel replied. “Now I get to be a little bit more myself.”

Perhaps more surprisingly (or not, depending on your view of corporate TV networks), she had also picked up a new job in the interim—on Friday, she was unveiled as a paid contributor to NBC News. Announcing the hire, Carrie Budoff Brown, who oversees political coverage at NBC, said that “it couldn’t be a more important moment to have a voice like Ronna’s on the team,” adding that she would “support our leading coverage by providing an insider’s perspective on national politics and on the future of the Republican Party—which she led through some of the most turbulent and challenging moments in political history.” (Full disclosure: Rebecca Blumenstein, the president of editorial at NBC News, chairs CJR’s Board of Overseers.) According to Puck, NBC agreed to pay McDaniel three hundred thousand dollars a year. Per the same source, CNN tried to poach McDaniel at the last minute, only to balk at the price.

The backlash to the hire was as swift as it was predictable. Numerous outside observers took NBC to task, pointing to McDaniel’s history of Trump sycophancy and 2020 election denialism.

The hire reportedly caused friction inside NBC, too. As the weekend progressed, reports surfaced suggesting that MSNBC, the liberal cable network that is part of NBC News, has no plans to host McDaniel on its shows, or at least won’t foist her presence on unwilling hosts.

On ‘Meet the Press,’ where McDaniel was interviewed, Chuck Todd and other journalists said hiring the former RNC chair raised credibility issues. More criticism followed Monday from the hosts of MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’.

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