NBC News parts with Ronna McDaniel following internal backlash

(The Hill) — Ronna McDaniel, the former chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), was ousted by NBC News as a paid contributor after vocal protests from the network’s staff over her hiring.

NBCU News Group Chair Cesar Conde announced the decision to part with Daniels, who just made her inaugural network appearance Sunday, to staff in a Tuesday memo obtained by The Hill. 

"No organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned," Conde wrote. "Over the last few days, it has become clear that this appointment undermines that goal."

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Both McDaniel and the network had come under criticism from some of the network’s biggest stars over her comments and role in former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 election.

The online news outlet Puck first reported on the network’s plans to cut ties with McDaniel while Axios reported Tuesday that McDaniel was exploring legal options in the event the network was to terminate her deal.  

NBC News was hit with a flood of criticism when it announced late last week it had hired McDaniel as a paid contributor to provide commentary on politics, a gig that was slated to pay her a reported six figures annually.  

By Sunday, outrage over the decision had boiled over, with former “Meet The Press” moderator Chuck Todd blasting the network on the air for hiring McDaniel, citing her "credibility issues” and accusing her of “gaslighting” the journalists during her time as head of the RNC.  

The fervor spilled into Monday, with a stream of top hosts at NBC’s left-leaning sister network MSNBC using their shows to blast the decision and accuse the network of giving a platform to election deniers — and saying they would not book McDaniel to appear on their programs.  

Rachel Maddow, one of the network’s most popular prime-time hosts, called McDaniel’s hiring “inexplicable” Monday evening and urged her network to cut ties with the Republican.  

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“Take a minute, acknowledge that maybe it wasn’t the right call,” Maddow said. “It is a sign of strength, not weakness, to acknowledge when you are wrong. And our country needs us to be strong right now.” 

During a contentious interview with moderator Kristen Welker that aired Sunday, McDaniel said Trump lost the 2020 election but maintained she still believes there were legitimate issues with the 2020 vote.  

A source at the network told The Hill this week there had been unanimous support among leadership at the network for McDaniel’s hiring.   

"I want to personally apologize to our team members who felt we let them down," Conde wrote in his memo Tuesday. "While this was a collective recommendation by some members of our leadership team, I approved it and take full responsibility for it."

It has become common for former national political operatives and press secretaries to sign lucrative and high-profile contributor deals with major news networks once they leave government. 

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But McDaniel’s hiring proved a bridge too far for a vocal contingent of the on-air talent at NBC.  

"The issue isn’t about ideology, it’s about basic truth,” Todd wrote in a social media post Monday. “Those trying to make this a left-right issue are being intentionally dishonest. This is about whether honest journalists are supposed to lend their credibility to someone who intentionally tried to ruin ours." 

Conde said in his memo the initial decision to hire McDaniel “was made because of our deep commitment to presenting our audiences with a widely diverse set of viewpoints and experiences, particularly during these consequential times.”  

“We continue to be 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,” he said.  

Updated at 6:37 p.m. EDT

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