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Open Revolt at NBC as ‘Morning Joe’ Joins the Ronna McDaniel Pile-On

MSNBC
MSNBC

The stars of MSNBC’s Morning Joe kicked off Monday by adding their voices to the growing chorus of NBC News journalists and on-air personalities publicly chastising the media company for hiring former Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel as a network pundit.

“I know you won’t be surprised to know that we’ve been inundated with calls this weekend, as have most people connected with this network about NBC’s decision to hire her,” co-host Joe Scarborough declared at the top of Monday morning’s broadcast. “We learned about the hiring when we read about it in the press on Friday.”

The Morning Joe hosts “weren’t asked our opinion of the hiring, but if we were, we would have strongly objected to it for several reasons,” Scarborough continued. According to the former GOP congressman, the main point of contention was the ex-RNC chair’s “role in Donald Trump’s fake elector scheme and her pressuring election officials to not certify election results while Donald Trump was on the phone.”

Ronna McDaniel Was a MAGA Toadie Who Betrayed the GOP

Scarborough’s co-host and spouse Mika Brzezinski further lashed out at NBC bosses, contending that the overriding issue with McDaniel was her credibility—not her ideology. Additionally, the Morning Joe co-host urged the network to quickly reverse course and part ways with McDaniel.

“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 fumed. “And we hope NBC will reconsider its decision. It goes without saying that she will not be a guest on Morning Joe in her capacity as a paid contributor.”

Morning Joe wasn’t alone in speaking out on Monday. Nicolle Wallace, a former George W. Bush spokesperson-turned-MSNBC host, spent much of her late-afternoon program lambasting McDaniel’s hiring as a potential threat to democracy itself.

“We’ll talk about what it means for democracy when companies, especially those in the business of news, add self-described election deniers to their payrolls,” she sighed.

Reading from Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny, Wallace noted that “most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given” before wondering if that now applied to her own network. “In this instance, NBC News is either wittingly or unwittingly teaching election deniers that what they can do stretches way beyond our air, which McDaniel did yesterday on Meet the Press,” Wallace said.

The open revolt by MSNBC’s flagship morning show and one of its most popular opinion hosts comes a day after NBC News political director Chuck Todd scathingly rebuked network brass on-air just moments after McDaniel wrapped up her first official network appearance on Meet the Press. Todd also expressed sympathy for his Meet the Press successor Kristen Welker, whom he felt was put in an “impossible situation” by the network.

“Our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this situation,” Todd told Welker, adding: “There’s a reason why there’s a lot of journalists at NBC News uncomfortable with this. Because many of our professional dealings with the RNC over the last six years have been met with gaslighting, have been met with character assassination.”

RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel delivers remarks before the NBC News Republican presidential debate.

RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel delivers remarks before the NBC News Republican presidential debate.

Joe Raedle/Getty

Todd also said that Welker had “the rug pulled out from under” her because she only found out a couple of days before the interview that McDaniel was “being paid to show up,” something the Meet the Press editor explicitly noted at the top of Sunday’s broadcast.

“This interview was scheduled weeks before it was announced that McDaniel would become a paid NBC News contributor,” she flatly stated. “This will be a news interview, and I was not involved in her hiring.”

During the interview itself, Welker pressed McDaniel on her previous support for Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, prompting the former RNC head to label Joe Biden the “legitimate” president. At the same time, McDaniel said, “It’s fair to say there were problems in 2020.”

Besides turning to Snyder and MSNBC contributor David Jolly to criticize NBC News for “normalizing” McDaniel and “autocracy,” Wallace on Monday also heaped praise on Todd over his condemnation of the network.

“He did something really brave,” she asserted. “I talked to him yesterday. I said I’m knitting you a cape!”

The on-air denouncements from some of the network’s top hosts and journalists will undoubtedly put pressure on other MSNBC personalities to speak out on the issue in an effort to force their bosses’ hand and nix McDaniel’s contract, which is reported to pay the ex-RNC chief $300,000 a year.

The former RNC chair’s comfortable NBC salary, amid sweeping layoffs in the newsroom, is also a point of contention among network staffers. “Across MSNBC they have been cutting contributors,” one host told Politico Playbook. “So everyone’s like, what the fuck? You found 300 for her?”

Chuck Todd Blasts NBC On-Air for Hiring Ronna McDaniel

However, much of the problem appears to lie with the lack of communication between NBC leadership and its news division, mulitiple network sources told The Daily Beast. NBC News executives courted McDaniel and finalized a deal with her without seeking any buy-in from its reporters and anchors, with NBC News executives Carrie Budoff Brown and Rebecca Blumenstein building a good rapport with McDaniel throughout the process.

MSNBC president Rashida Jones, seemingly attempting to quell the backlash at the liberal-leaning channel, reportedly told her staffers over the weekend that “the cable network has no plans to have McDaniel on” its airwaves. This came after Budoff Brown announced the hiring that McDaniel would appear “across all NBC News platforms.”

Jones, though, was reportedly part of the leadership that unanimously supported the McDaniel deal. Furthermore, sources have clarified to other outlets that there is no ban on McDaniel at MSNBC and that each individual show can use her if they choose.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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