Rona McDaniel: Domestic Rebellion Drives Former Republican Leader Out on NBC

  • By Sam Cabral
  • BBC News, Washington

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NBC News is reversing course four days after it said it had hired Rona McDaniel as a paid political analyst.

NBC News has reversed course in its hiring of former Republican chairperson Rona McDaniel amid an internal revolt among the US network's top stars.

Ms McDaniel was chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2017 until she was replaced this month at the request of Donald Trump allies.

NBC said Friday that the 51-year-old has been hired as the latest paid contributor to its political coverage.

A network executive apologized to employees for the decision.

In an internal email to NBC employees announcing the reversal, seen by the BBC, NBC Universal president Cesar Conte apologized to “team members who felt we let them down.”

“Our initial decision is due to our deep commitment to providing our audience with a wide range of views and experiences, especially in these turbulent times,” Mr Conte's statement said.

The agitation began shortly after Ms McDaniel debuted her new role on Meet the Press on Sunday.

During the interview, host Kristen Welker directly challenged Mr Trump for repeating false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

Ms McDaniel offered a conciliatory response, arguing that she believed there were “problems in 2020” but that Joe Biden won “fair and square”.

Appearing on air after the interview, former Meet the Press host Chuck Todd told her successor, Ms Welker: “I think our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this situation.”

“She still has credibility issues to deal with,” he said, arguing that the interview “did a good job of exposing a lot of inconsistencies.”

Other on-air talent called on the network to reconsider its move.

Rachel Maddow – host of the much-watched show on MSNBC – called Ms McDaniel's hiring “inexplicable”.

Joe Scarborough and Micah Brzezinski — hosts of Morning Joe, a popular morning show among Washington DC insiders and seen daily by President Biden — said the network stars were “inundated with calls” over the decision.

Ms McDaniel, the daughter-in-law of anti-Trump Republican Senator Mitt Romney, was hired by Mr Trump to lead the Republican National Committee (RNC) in 2017 after serving as chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

But he has lost favor in recent months due to the party's poor performance in recent elections and lackluster fundraising.

He was replaced at the RNC this month by North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Michael Watley, who was joined as co-chair by Mr Trump's daughter-in-law Laura Trump.

The backlash over Ms McDaniel's hiring highlights the struggle news organizations face as they navigate an increasingly partisan era of American politics.

It's not uncommon for top networks to hire former political officials as analysts.

Former RNC Chair Michael Steele is a political analyst on MSNBC, while former Biden White House press secretary Jen Saki and former Bush White House communications director Nicole Wallace host the shows.

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