Ronna McDaniel Is Out at NBC News After Furor


The Ronna McDaniel era at NBC News has come to an abrupt and chaotic end.

Facing an extraordinary on-air revolt by its leading stars, NBC’s top news executive said on Tuesday that he had decided to cut ties with Ms. McDaniel, the former chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, who was hired last week as an on-air political commentator.

Her tenure at NBC lasted four days.

Ms. McDaniel’s appointment, announced with fanfare on Friday, was immediately criticized by reporters at the network and viewers on social media. Fans of MSNBC, NBC’s left-leaning cable arm, were particularly outraged, citing Ms. McDaniel’s leadership of the Republican Party under former President Donald J. Trump and her handling of his false claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

“After listening to the legitimate concerns of many of you, I have decided that Ronna McDaniel will not be an NBC News contributor,” Cesar Conde, the chairman of the NBCUniversal News Group, wrote in a staff memo on Tuesday.

He added, “I want to personally apologize to our team members who felt we let them down.”

Leaders in the NBC newsroom, convinced that election year audiences deserved to hear a perspective from conservatives like Ms. McDaniel, believed the hubbub would fizzle out. They did not bank on the temerity of their own stars, who on Monday lined up one by one to denounce NBC’s decision on its own airwaves.

Rachel Maddow devoted 29 minutes on her show Monday night — the top-rated program on MSNBC — to address Ms. McDaniel’s hiring, calling it “inexplicable” and associating her with historical figures who attempted authoritarian takeovers of the government. She told her bosses: “Take a minute, acknowledge that maybe it wasn’t the right call.”

Her monologue followed similar calls from the hosts Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Nicolle Wallace, among others. Ms. Wallace, herself a former Republican who once earned Democrats’ ire as a chief defender of George W. Bush, said on Monday that NBC had given a greenlight for “election deniers” to spread falsehoods “as paid contributors to our sacred airwaves.”

Television networks regularly hire Washington veterans as paid commentators; Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff, recently joined ABC News.

Ms. McDaniel, who occasionally clashed with Mr. Trump, left the R.N.C. this month under pressure from the former president and his allies. She quickly signed with C.A.A. and met with executives at several networks. Her deal with NBC was worth about $300,000 a year, according to a person familiar with its details.

The revolt over Ms. McDaniel is a major test for Mr. Conde, who has led NBC’s news arm since 2020.

“No organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned,” he wrote in his memo on Tuesday. “Over the last few days, it has become clear that this appointment undermines that goal.”

Officials at NBC said that Mr. Conde signed off on Ms. McDaniel’s hire at the recommendation of several deputies, including Carrie Budoff Brown, who oversees NBC News political coverage; Rebecca Blumenstein, the NBC News president; and Rashida Jones, the MSNBC president. (Ms. Blumenstein is a former editor at The New York Times.)

Mr. Conde wrote that Ms. McDaniel was hired “because of our deep commitment to presenting our audiences with a widely diverse set of viewpoints and experiences.” He said that NBC remained “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.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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