By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

McDaniel is out. But don’t get your hopes up that network execs have learned a lesson.

Ronna McDaniel. Photo (cc) 2018 by Gage Skidmore.

Ronna McDaniel is out at NBC News. Veteran media critic David Zurawick writes for CNN, “It was two days of the most aggressive, public and passionate pushback by employees against a decision by their bosses that I have seen in 35 years of covering the media.” His lead:

As wrongheaded as it was on so many levels, NBC’s decision to hire former Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Ronna McDaniel as a contributor might actually have done the nation a favor. The highly controversial move has helped drive a crucial conversation about the role of media in our political life at this moment of democratic crisis.

The NBC executives who thought this was a great idea really had no choice. Hosts on MSNBC from Rachel Maddow to Joe Scarborough said they wouldn’t have her on, and she was finished on NBC itself after she was eviscerated on “Meet the Press,” first by Kristen Welker, then in a post-interview commentary by Chuck Todd. It will be interesting to see whether anyone at the network will pay the price for this boneheaded move.

Become a supporter of Media Nation for just $5 a month.

As I’ve said before, I’m trying to balance two impulses. On the one hand, I don’t think the networks should hire any partisan players to bloviate on their airwaves, Democrat or Republican. Let’s hear from journalists. On the other hand, since they’re going to continue making such hires, I think it’s useful to differentiate someone like McDaniel, who amplified Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election, from your run-of-the-mill Trump-friendly commentator. Several observers have pointed out that CNN once hired the loathsome Corey Lewandowski, but that was during the pre-insurrection days when Trump was merely a racist sociopath rather than a budding authoritarian dictator.

Rather than learning the lesson that Zurawick is hoping for, my guess is that NBC executives are probably now going to feel pressured to hire a less toxic Trumper, someone like Marc Thiessen (currently on Fox News) or Byron York (ditto). And no, no one at Fox feels similarly pressured to bring in a liberal Joe Biden supporter. That’s not the way it works.


Leave a comment | Read comments

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.


WBUR offers buyouts to staff members


GBH becomes the latest public media outlet to eye layoffs


  1. Dane S. Claussen

    Well, you’re sort of getting at the problem, which is that television news is mostly filled with low-quality journalists who would never be hired by any self-respecting newspaper or newsmagazine, and even lower-quality “experts” and other sources, since TV has a lot of time to fill and most people are not both available and willing to go on-air. Hiring McDaniel was like hitting bottom after decades of sliding down a slippery slope. Also recently, as another example, one of my friends was convinced that Fani Willis was going to be removed from the Georgia Trump case. I asked him why he thought so. He said everyone on TV was saying so. I said they don’t know what they’re talking about; read the Georgia bar ethics code! (I also said that’s not the impression I was getting, calming reading high-quality newspapers and newsmagazines rather than watching crap on TV.) He asked why these various current or former law professors, prosecutors, etc., would say so if it wasn’t likely. I said, look, TV channels and networks can (and do) find someone to say anything, including false statements of fact, ridiculous opinions, and even opinions they don’t even believe; they are after ratings, not truth. It is, as Newton Minow famously said, the vast wastland–and TV was a lot better when he said it than it is now.

  2. Andy M.

    It is telling that NBC won’t be able to argue that it fired McDaniel because they were *shocked, shocked* to learn that she had lied about believing Biden stole the election and that Jan. 6 rioters were blameless. Even if this was somehow true it would be so far-fetched no one would believe it, and so embarrassing that NBC would look like rubes and therefore wouldn’t admit it.

    I do think it’s funny that McDaniel copped to being a professional liar and then got canned. She probably has a good breach of contract case, but she’ll have a tricky time proving she’s entitled to the full $600K since she has a duty to mitigate damages (i.e. get hired to do the same thing on Fox or ~shudder~ CNN). Although now she could argue her “credibility” is shot with the MAGA crowd because of what she said on MTP, so she can’t get that gig on Fox or OAN or whatever.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén