Why Are NBC Anchors Throwing a Tantrum Over Ronna McDaniel?

March 25, 2024   |   Tags: , , , ,
Ronna McDaniel | Screenshot via NBC News

NBC News has hired recently departed Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel as an on-air contributor, and many of her new colleagues are fleeing for their safe spaces.

Chuck Todd, the former host of NBC's Meet the Press, appeared on his old show with host Kristen Welker over the weekend and savaged the network for hiring McDaniel after all of the "gaslighting" that occurred at the RNC during her reign. He went on to suggest that the network had put Welker—who had just interviewed McDaniel—in a horrible position.

Todd was not alone: Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were similarly outraged.

That's quite a lot of hand-wringing over a cable channel hiring a former politico to provide opinion commentary—a turn of events that is not remotely unprecedented.

Indeed, Todd's suggestion that his bosses might have transgressed journalistic norms by hiring and interviewing a political operative with potentially mixed loyalties is pretty rich considering, well, the existence of Jen Psaki. Psaki, of course, is the anchor of her own show on MSNBC, despite formerly serving as White House press secretary for President Joe Biden. There was not some massive time gap between these two positions—on the contrary, she negotiated her move to cable while still working within the administration.

Psaki was a paid CNN contributor before working for Biden, and prior to that, she was part of the Obama administration. It's almost as if there's a revolving door between working in politics and being paid by the media to talk about politics, and liberal journalists did not particularly find this controversial until about 5 seconds ago. Indeed, Scarborough is himself a former Republican member of Congress. Nicolle Wallace, a former communications director for President George W. Bush, also has an MSNBC show. (The network has a type, and that type is ex-Republican-turned-anti-Trump zealot.)

Then there's Symone Sanders, who jumped from the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign to CNN and then joined the Biden campaign in 2020, became a spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, and finally ended up with her own show at…MSNBC. To be clear, this practice of hiring former Washington insiders to provide commentary is standard practice within cable news; it is not remotely confined to MSNBC. Donna Brazile, who has previously served as acting chair of the Democratic National Committee, has been a paid contributor on CNN, ABC, and Fox News. Fox also employs Dana Perino, a former Bush White House spokesperson. And of course, ABC News famously hired George Stephanopoulos, a former communications director in the Bill Clinton White House, to serve as a correspondent and political analyst even though he had no previous journalism experience whatsoever.

The selective outrage over McDaniel is thus pretty rich.

What's really going on here is that mainstream media figures dislike McDaniel because of the work she did on Donald Trump's behalf. But unlike the network's cadre of Trump-hating Republican commentators, McDaniel is actually in a position to educate viewers about Trump's appeal to a significant share of the electorate. If they don't like what she's saying, other on-air personalities can challenge her. That is the whole point of cable news commentary, right?

The post Why Are NBC Anchors Throwing a Tantrum Over Ronna McDaniel? appeared first on Reason.com.


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