NBC News Drama

[ Posted Monday, March 25th, 2024 – 16:44 UTC ]

There is some big-time drama going on at NBC News right now, as some of its journalists push back hard on the big bosses' decision to hire, as a new political contributor, former head of the Republican National Committee Ronna (Romney) McDaniel. This erupted on this week's Meet The Press and it hasn't abated since. NBC first announced that McDaniel would appear on all their platforms, but has since walked this back a bit after the people at MSNBC pushed back hard.

McDaniel debuted on Meet The Press this Sunday, and to say it didn't go well is an understatement. In the first place, she was booked for an interview before the announcement of her hiring was made public, which set up an extremely awkward situation. The host of the program, Kristen Welker, specifically mentioned this during her interview, and did try (to some extent) to push back on McDaniel's past statements and actions supporting Donald Trump's "Big Lie" about the 2020 presidential election. McDaniel wasn't some bystander in all this, she might more accurately be described as an "unindicted co-conspirator" for joining in at least one phone call -- as the head of the R.N.C. -- where Trump tried to pressure elections officials in Michigan to subvert American democracy. But just as with Trump, even though Welker did try to push back on a few of McDaniel's lies (such as "crime is rising" when in fact it has fallen for two straight years now), there were just too many of them to adequately fact-check in real time.

Immediately after the interview concluded, former host of Meet The Press Chuck Todd excoriated the network he works for in no uncertain terms. This was during the "roundtable" segment of the program -- which is where (if anywhere) McDaniel should have appeared. Not as a guest with a powerful position in American politics, but as a spin doctor for the partisan/journalistic point-counterpoint verbal duelling. It was rather extraordinary to hear Todd bash his own network heads in such a fashion, since things like this don't regularly happen on the air (or even off the air, for that matter).

Others are now joining in this chorus. Joe Scarborough announced today that McDaniel was never going to be invited to his morning show, and the Union at NBC had quite a few scathing things to say as well (as Politico reported):

NBC's union accused the network of valuing former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel over its own journalists, in social media posts shared Monday.

"Two weeks before [NBC News] proudly announced the hiring of Ronna McDaniel, execs illegally terminated 13 union journalists," NBC Guild posted on X, writing that NBCUniversal News Group Chair Cesar Conde never offered an explanation for the layoffs.

"Ronna encouraged a lie that many of our own journalists have spent countless hours debunking," the Guild continued. "Our journalism is tarnished by @NBCNews execs elevating a liar over the workers who have spent years delivering the kind of reporting that our newsrooms are typically known for."

Of course, McDaniel isn't the first ex-politico hired by the television news industry, as the ironically-named (in this case) Politico pointed out in a separate article:

Setting aside the bevy of politicos hired over the years by the Fox News channel -- Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Karl Rove, John Kasich, Dana Perino, Ben Carson, et al. -- a migration path as reliable as that of the caribou has been trod to the networks by politicians, their aides, their speechwriters, and in one case political offspring: Diane Sawyer to CBS News and then ABC News; Chris Matthews to MSNBC; Joe Scarborough to MSNBC; Tim Russert to NBC News; Susan Molinari to CBS News; Mary Matalin to CNN; Bay Buchanan to CNN; Pat Buchanan to CNN; Paul Begala to CNN; Sarah Isgur to ABC News; Van Jones to CNN; Al Sharpton to MSNBC; Bill Bradley to CBS News; Dee Dee Myers to CNBC; Jennifer Granholm to CNN; David Axelrod to CNN; David Gergen to CNN; Donna Brazile to ABC News; Lawrence O'Donnell to MSNBC; Nicolle Wallace to MSNBC; Symone Sanders-Townsend to MSNBC; Jen Psaki to MSNBC; George Stephanopoulos to ABC News; Mick Mulvaney to CBS News; Corey Lewandowski to CNN; and many more, including nepo-baby Chelsea Clinton who, according to Politico, was paid a reported $600,000 a year by NBC News. And that's just the shortlist.

NBC News, as these things go, got McDaniel for cheap, too -- her salary will only be $300,000, which is only half of what Chelsea Clinton made way back in 2011. But that's not really the point.

The point is that McDaniel has zero credibility, even as a spin doctor. ABC News regularly features two former party chairs on Sunday mornings, Democrat Donna Brazile and Republican Reince Priebus, and their back-and-forth is instructive because while they both present events and issues in the strongest possible light for their own party, they are both able to admit inconvenient facts about their own party as well. They stick, for the most part, to the truth and not some made-up "alternative facts" (as another Trump shill, Kellyanne Conway, so memorably put it -- interestingly enough, while she herself was being interviewed on Meet The Press). So you get to see them make their party's case while occasionally squirming when the other side lands a verbal blow.

As her first paid NBC News appearance made obvious, McDaniel won't be able to do this. She refuses to admit reality. So what is even the point of having her on any NBC show, much less as a paid contributor? She has zero journalistic standards and zero credibility. Also, while NBC News often presents things with a slightly conservative spin (most often on their evening news broadcast show), they do so in an attempt to counter the liberal spin from MSNBC. But what audience exactly do they think McDaniel will reach? The MAGA Trump followers don't like her (Trump himself forced her out of her chairmanship, after all), and the anti-Trump conservatives have no reason to trust her either, after she remade the R.N.C. into nothing more than a Trump mouthpiece and apologist. McDaniel not only pushed the Big Lie hard, she actively participated in trying to overturn the election results in at least one state. She is simply not believable now when she tries to claim she was just "taking one for the team" during all of that.

To use a reductio ad absurdum example, it'd be like a major news network deciding to pay George Santos $300,000 a year to occasionally appear on their shows. What would be the point? Entertainment value? That could work, if Santos (or McDaniel) were seated on the chair of a dunk tank and every time he or she uttered a complete lie or conspiracy theory, one of the real journalists got to chuck a few baseballs at the target and dunk them in the tank. I suppose that would be worth watching... but elevating her to any sort of serious journalistic commentary would not.

NBC News now has a firestorm raging from within. They thought they had scored a real hiring coup (they reportedly beat back an offer from CNN at the last minute), adding to their stable of paid consultants by snapping up the person who led the R.N.C. during Trump's tenure. But others who work for NBC News are now in open revolt. The news organization has become the news story (which is a cardinal sin in the industry). NBC News is now in full damage control mode. Will the executives continue to weather the storm until they are themselves routinely the butt of late-night comedians' jokes (which could begin as soon as tonight), or will they decide it is time to cut anchor and sail away from this bad decision? It's doubtful at this point that CNN would want to go through what NBC is right now, so perhaps McDaniel will become radioactive for truly journalistic outfits -- relegating her to Fox News or some other rightwing outlet.

NBC News is, contrary to their name, now the most interesting drama on the entire network right now. What will happen next in this developing story? Stay tuned....

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


2 Comments on “NBC News Drama”

  1. [1] 
    Kick wrote:

    McDaniel not only pushed the Big Lie hard, she actively participated in trying to overturn the election results in at least one state.

    Remember also, it was Ronna Romney McDaniel who testified under oath that the RNC helped coordinate the Trump campaign's fake electors in multiple states at the direct request of Donald Trump who (according to her) phoned her from the White House and introduced her to John Eastman.

    In February 2022, McDaniel backed a resolution that censured Republican congressmembers Cheney and Kinzinger who were involved in the January 6 investigation and referred to those fake electors (that she admitted under oath she and the RNC helped to coordinate) who met in multiple states and signed false certificates that were delivered to Congress and the National Archives attesting that Trump had won (multiple crimes) as "legitimate political discourse."

    Not only should McDaniel not be given legitimacy by NBC as a paid political analyst, she should be indicted as a co-conspirator for the crimes she admittedly helped coordinate in multiple states along with Trump, Eastman, et alia.

    She is simply not believable now when she tries to claim she was just "taking one for the team" during all of that.

    I know, right? And that "team" is literally indicted in multiple jurisdictions for crimes in which she admittedly participated.

    So NBC voluntarily chose to give that #!~@* (insert your own expletive) a paid salary and a microphone!?

  2. [2] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Looks like Ronna is out. Lasted a third of a Mooch for those counting at home...

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