NBC cuts ties with former Republican party chair Ronna McDaniel after backlash

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NBC News has parted ways with Ronna McDaniel, the former Republican National Committee chair and Donald Trump ally, just days after hiring her, following a public backlash from some of the network’s biggest stars. 

“I want to personally apologise to our team members who felt we let them down,” NBCUniversal News chair Cesar Conde told staff on Tuesday in a memo seen by the Financial Times. 

NBC on Friday announced it had hired McDaniel as a paid contributor to its news coverage, as it tries to bring more rightwing voices to the network.

The move immediately drew outrage from staff and viewers — particularly at MSNBC, the left-leaning cable news channel owned by NBCUniversal — over McDaniel’s role in supporting Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election had been fraudulent.

Rachel Maddow, one of MSNBC’s most popular presenters, on Monday called on her employer to cut ties with McDaniel. “The fact that Ms McDaniel is on the payroll at NBC News, to me that is inexplicable, and I hope they will reverse their decision,” she said.

The controversy speaks to the challenge news companies face in covering Trump and those affiliated with him, as the former president continues to question the 2020 election results and air his resentment towards the news media.

“Our initial decision was made because of our deep commitment to presenting our audiences with a widely diverse set of viewpoints and experiences, particularly during these consequential times,” Conde said in the memo. 

“We continue to be committed to the principle that we must have diverse viewpoints on our programs, and to that end, we will redouble our efforts to seek voices that represent different parts of the political spectrum,” he added. 

NBC declined to comment.

Maddow said her rebuke of McDaniel was not about her being a Republican, but rather her support of Trump’s efforts to “undermine elections”. McDaniel was someone who “hasn’t just attacked us as journalists, but someone who is part of an ongoing project to get rid of our system of government . . . someone who is still trying to convince Americans that this election stuff doesn’t really work”, Maddow said.

McDaniel earlier this month stepped down as RNC chair after pressure from Trump. She was chair of the RNC during the 2020 election, and in the aftermath of the vote, she cast doubt on the validity of Joe Biden’s victory. 

“We cannot let this stand and we will fight every irregularity to the very last,” she said three days after the vote. In one prominent episode, she tried to pressure officials in Michigan not to certify the ballot tally in one county, a move that was rebuffed by the state office that administers elections. 

She also criticised Republican lawmakers Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney for participating in a congressional panel to investigate the attacks on the US Capitol on January 6 2021, saying the committee was persecuting Americans engaged in “legitimate political discourse”.

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“Ronna facilitated Trump’s corrupt fake elector plot and his effort to pressure Michigan officials not to certify the legitimate election outcome. She spread lies and called 1/6 legitimate political discourse,” Cheney wrote on X on Sunday.

McDaniel comes from a traditional Republican political family in Michigan. She is the granddaughter of the state’s former governor George Romney and niece of Utah senator Mitt Romney.

Michael Whatley, a close ally of Trump from North Carolina, is the new chair of the RNC, and Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law, is co-chair. Speaking on NBC on Sunday, McDaniel said Biden had won the election “fair and square”.


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