Chuck Todd questions his network, NBC News, about the former RNC chairman’s hiring

Veteran NBC anchor Chuck Todd publicly attacked his own network’s leadership on Sunday, questioning why NBC News hired Ronna McDaniel, the former Republican National Committee chairwoman, and declaring live on air: “There’s a reason why it is “There are many.” NBC News journalists are unhappy with this.”

Mr. Todd’s comments on “Meet the Press,” the flagship political show he hosted for nine years, represented an extraordinary escalation of behind-the-scenes tensions that have been simmering at NBC News and its cable TV cousin, MSNBC, since it was announced on Friday that Ms. McDaniel had been brought on board as a political analyst.

Some journalists at NBC were baffled by the decision to hire Ms. McDaniel, pointing to her tenure at the RNC under President Donald J. Trump, when she regularly repeated Mr. Trump’s criticism of the news media and, in particular, left-wing programs on MSNBC.

Rashida Jones, the president of MSNBC, called several prominent anchors over the weekend to assure them that they would not be forced to book Ms. McDaniel on their shows, according to a person briefed on the conversations who requested anonymity to discuss confidential information to reveal.

Ms. McDaniel made her NBC debut on “Meet the Press” on Sunday in an appearance that current host Kristen Welker told viewers was planned weeks before Ms. McDaniel joined as a paid contributor. “This will be a news interview and I was not involved in her hiring,” Ms. Welker said.

After the interview When the show aired, Ms. Welker joined a live panel on set that included Mr. Todd, who began his remarks by saying, “Let me deal with the elephant in the room.”

“I think our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this situation,” Mr Todd said. “Because I don’t know what to believe. She’s now a paid employee of NBC News, so I have no idea if she responded to you because she didn’t want to mess up her contract.”

Mr. Todd said that Ms. McDaniel “has credibility issues” and continued: “There’s a reason why a lot of journalists at NBC News are uncomfortable with this, because many of our professional contacts with the RNC over the last six years have.” were confronted with gaslighting and character assassination.”

He added: “So when NBC made the decision to give her the credibility of NBC News, you had to ask yourself, ‘What does she bring to NBC News?'”

Reached by phone Sunday, Ms. McDaniel declined to comment.

The path from Washington politics to the role of an on-air analyst is well-trodden. Ms. McDaniel is just the latest leading Republican to sign a contract with a network. Reince Priebus, for example, who served as Mr. Trump’s first chief of staff, now writes for ABC News.

Television news departments are also striving to ensure that their campaign coverage includes a variety of ideological voices, rather than just pundits leaning toward the political left. Executives at NBC News, which unlike MSNBC does not air opinion programs, emphasized that point in their memo on Friday announcing Ms. McDaniel’s new role.

“It couldn’t be a more important moment to have a voice like Ronna on the team,” wrote Carrie Budoff Brown, who oversees NBC News’ political coverage. “She will support our leading reporting by providing an insider’s perspective on national politics and the future of the Republican Party.” NBC News already employs Republican commentators like Marc Short, who served as chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence.

In her interview with Ms. McDaniel on Sunday, Ms. Welker pressed the former Republican leader on whether she believed President Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election.

“Fair and fair, he won,” Ms. McDaniel said. “It’s certified. It is finished.”

“Ronna, why did it take you until now to be able to say that?” asked Ms. Welker.

“I’m going to back off a little because I think it’s fair to say that there were problems in 2020 and that doesn’t mean he’s not the legitimate president,” Ms. McDaniel responded.

Symone D. Sanders, a former key spokeswoman for Vice President Kamala Harris who is now an anchor on MSNBC, later praised Ms. Welker’s handling of the interview. Write to X“She put them on the record a lot.”

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