Chuck Todd admonishes his bosses on-air over NBC hiring Ronna McDaniel

Hiring of RNC chair who saw party through Trump’s bid to overturn 2020 election causes pain and anger at NBC News

John Bowden
Washington DC
Monday 25 March 2024 15:50 GMT
Chuck Todd criticises his bosses on air over hiring former RNC chair

NBC News political director Chuck Todd isn’t ready to defend his network’s hiring of former GOP chief Ronna McDaniel as a political analyst.

On Sunday, he made sure his bosses — and everybody else — knew it.

Ms McDaniel’s hiring as a paid contributor at NBC News this past week was reported to have made a number of journalists at the network uncomfortable. As Meet the Press turned to its panel segment on Sunday morning, Todd vocalised those objections in a fiery admonition of NBC brass, whom he said owed moderator Kristen Welker an apology for booking Ms McDaniel as one of her interviews for Sunday’s programme.

Welker’s interview with Ms McDaniel touched on several topics including her leadership of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Her tenure as RNC chair came to an end this year after Donald Trump endorsed her removal following the South Carolina primary.

Ms McDaniel’s time at the head of the party was punctuated by poor fundraising which trailed that of the party’s Democratic foes in 2023 and left a number of state parties in dire financial straits. A year prior, Republicans saw a dismal showing in US midterm congressional and statewide elections. A number of high-profile candidates endorsed by Donald Trump lost important races for governorships and congressional seats leading to the GOP eking out a tiny majority in the lower chamber and failing to capture a minority in the Senate.

Asked about those statistics and a description of her as a failure by an RNC member who spoke to NBC News, Ms McDaniel responded: “I push back on that very hard,” and went on to tout gains the party made with recruiting women and people of colour to run for congressional seats under her leadership.

She took the role at the RNC shortly after the 2016 election, and supported Donald Trump publicly as he continued to spread lies and disinformation about the 2020 election in the wake of his defeat. Many journalists, especially on Twitter, have speculated over the past few days about the morality of putting someone who supported those lies on air.

Todd was one of them.

“I think our bosses owe you an apology,” he told his successor at the Meet the Press desk on Sunday. He noted that Ms McDaniel claims that she made her statements on those topics and others during her tenure on behalf of the party, not herself.

“[But] she still has credibility issues that she has to deal with,” said Todd.

Ronna McDaniel defends silence over January 6 and supports convictions for violence

He went on, with emotion in his voice, to denounce how Welker had been informed of Ms McDaniel’s hiring as a paid contributor only after the interview was booked.

“It’s unfortunate for this programme” that NBC brass handled the situation this way, he concluded.

The co-hosts of Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, joined in on the criticism of their network Monday morning in their first broadcast since the controversy began. The pair said that Ms McDaniel would not appear on Morning Joe in her paid NBC News capacity.

“To be clear, we believe NBC News should seek out conservative Republican voices to provide balance in their election coverage. But it should be conservative Republicans, not a person who used her position of power to be an anti-democracy election denier,” Brzezinski said. “And we hope NBC will reconsider its decision.”

Ms McDaniel has not commented publicly on the controversy her hiring has caused among her new colleagues.

NBC News has so far declined to comment.

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