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Ronna McDaniel’s NBC News Tenure Is Over After Just Five Days

After just a few short days, and a whole lot of internal uproar, NBC News has backtracked on its decision to hire former RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel as a paid contributor.

NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde made the announcement in a memo and said he had made the decision after listening to “the legitimate concerns” of many network employees. “No organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned,” he wrote. “Over the last few days, it has become clear that this appointment undermines that goal.”

Conde also apologized to those “who felt we let them down” and said, “While this was a collective recommendation by some members of our leadership team, I approved it and take full responsibility for it.”

It was just last Friday, March 22, that McDaniel was hired to serve as a conservative political correspondent with a reported salary of $300,000. Her tenure as RNC Chair began in January 2017, coinciding with the start of Donald Trump’s presidency, and concluded just a few weeks prior on March 8.

The backlash to her hiring at NBC News basically began with her first appearance on the network. Sunday’s episode of Meet the Press opened with an interview between McDaniel and host Kristen Welker, which had been booked weeks before her hiring was announced. Welker, for her part, acknowledged the obvious ethical tension, offering a disclaimer before the interview: “This will be a news interview, and I was not involved in her hiring.”

But it was former Meet the Press moderator, and current NBC News political analyst Chuck Todd, who really took the opportunity to lambast the decision to hire McDaniel. Right after the interview finished, Todd said that many journalists at NBC News were “uncomfortable” with McDaniel’s hiring, citing her “credibility issues” during her time as RNC Chair. “Many of our professional dealings with the RNC over the last six years have been met with gaslighting, have been met with character assassination,” Todd said.

Of the interview itself, Todd added: “I don’t know what to believe. She is now a paid contributor by NBC News, so I have no idea whether any answer she gave to you was because she didn’t want to mess up her contract.”

On Monday, Rachel Maddow, the highest-rated anchor on MSNBC, dedicated nearly 30 minutes to what she described as an “inexplicable” decision to hire McDaniel.

“I want to associate myself with all my colleagues, both at MSNBC and NBC News, who have voiced loud and principled objections to our company putting on the payroll 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,” she said. “Someone who still is trying to convince Americans that this election stuff, it doesn’t really work.”

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