NBC's ousting of Ronna McDaniel reinforces status as anti-Trump, pro-Biden network

Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd led the revolt against NBC bosses over hiring the ex-RNC chair

NBC News' dramatic decision to hire and then immediately fire former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel in the span of five days shows just how far left the media juggernaut has drifted in recent years, particularly as the 2024 presidential election steadily approaches. 

On Friday, the network announced McDaniel would be joining the Peacock family as a political analyst across all NBC platforms, including its far-left sister network MSNBC. That opened the floodgates of on-air backlash from the company's biggest liberal stars, including Rachel Maddow.

"This seems to me to be an example of the hermetically-sealed bubble in which these people on the left live because they simply can't see it from the other side," Fox News chief political analyst Brit Hume reacted on Monday's "Special Report." 

NBCUniversial News Group Chairman Cesar Conde sent a memo to staff Tuesday announcing McDaniel was no longer with the network.

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


Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd attack Ronna McDaniel

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and NBC's Chuck Todd led the public ousting of their newly-hired colleague, former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel. (Getty Images/RNC)

During the chorus of outrage from NBC talent, a recurring theme was their claims that objections to McDaniel had nothing to do with politics.

"We believe NBC News should seek out conservative Republican voices to provide balance in their election coverage. But it should be conservative Republicans, not a person who used her position of power to be an anti-democracy election denier."," MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski said on "Morning Joe."

"The ReidOut" host Joy Reid similarly insisted it wasn't about partisanship, listing MSNBC colleagues Nicolle Wallace and Michael Steele as well as vocal Trump foes former Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney as Republicans she approves of. She also complimented her guest, NeverTrump MSNBC contributor Charlie Sykes, as a "real conservative" and "not the Trump fake kind."


"The issue isn’t about ideology, it’s about basic truth. 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," NBC's Chuck Todd wrote on X. 

Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway reacted, "Chuck Todd has pushed the Russia collusion hoax for years. He has NEGATIVE credibility. This is hilarious."

Other critics were quick to point out the lack of outrage about MSNBC hiring former Biden-Harris administration officials Symone Sanders and Jen Psaki, the latter of whom allegedly had active discussions with NBC while serving as White House press secretary. They weren't just hired as mere analysts like McDaniel, they were both given their own shows.

Psaki herself rejected the comparison on Monday, insisting that, unlike McDaniel, she brings "truth" and "honesty" to viewers. But as independent journalist Glenn Greenwald pointed out, Psaki peddled the false Russian disinformation narrative about Hunter Biden's laptop during the 2020 election.


Jen Psaki and Ronna McDaniel

Former Biden White House press secretary-turned-MSNBC host Jen Psaki attempted to distance herself from comparisons to NBC's hiring of RNC chair Ronna McDaniel. (MSNBC/Screenshot/Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

The automatic shunning of McDaniel reflects who's truly welcomed on MSNBC's airwaves. 

Countless Democratic strategists and left-wing journalists from other legacy news organizations have long found a home as paid contributors on MSNBC. The network also has a slew of so-called "conservative" commentators who purportedly bring ideological diversity to the network but in reality sing from the same sheet of music as their liberal counterparts in bashing former President Trump and Republicans broadly. 

Alongside Sykes on MSNBC's payroll are Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin, New York Times' Bret Stephens, former Bush official Elise Jordan, former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd, The Bulwark's Tim Miller, ex-GOP strategist Susan Del Percio, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and ex-Republican lawmakers David Jolly and Carlos Curbelo. 

The Lincoln Project's Rick Wilson and Stuart Stevens, former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, The Bulwark's Sarah Longwell, former GOP congressman Joe Walsh and The Atlantic staff writer Tom Nichols, while not paid contributors, serve as frequent guests. 


There is a plethora of former Obama administration appointees on MSNBC's paid roster, like Ben Rhodes, Richard Stengel, Frank Figliuzzi, Joyce Vance and top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. But the two biggest standouts, former CIA Director John Brennan and former CIA and Defense chief of staff Jeremy Bash, signed the infamous open letter from former intel officials pushing the Russian disinformation narrative about Hunter Biden's laptop in 2020. Brennan also had a key role in the orchestration of the Russia collusion narrative that plagued the Trump presidency. 

Brennan on MSNBC

Former CIA Director John Brennan is still in MSNBC's good graces despite his role in the orchestration of the Russian collusion probe and peddling false claims that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation in 2020. (Screenshot/MSNBC)

Additionally, DOJ officials involved in the Russia probe landed jobs at MSNBC, such as Andrew Weissmann, best known as the "pit bull prosecutor" on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who made headlines after her anti-Trump texts with her lover and FBI colleague Peter Strzok were made public. Strzok is also a frequent MSNBC guest.

That's not to say that anyone who has worked for former President Trump in the past isn't allowed on MSNBC's airwaves, they just have to fully denounce their ex-boss, like his former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, former White House aides Cassidy Hutchinson, Sarah Matthews and Anthony Scaramucci, former Pence aide Olivia Troye, and ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, all who make regular guest appearances. 


McDaniel isn't the only Biden critic given the heave-ho by the Peacock network. Mehdi Hasan, once a rising liberal star on MSNBC, left the network after his outspoken stance on the Israel-Hamas war, which included criticism from the left of the Biden administration's handling of the ongoing foreign policy crisis. 

There has only been one notable instance where an MSNBC pundit was actually too deep in Biden's pocket. In 2020, MSNBC was forced to cut presidential historian and outspoken Biden supporter Jon Meachum as a paid contributor after he failed to disclose to the network that he was a Biden speechwriter and even appeared on-air to praise Biden's victory speech he helped craft. Meachum remains a frequent guest on the network.

But there is certainly no shortage of Biden fans under the NBC umbrella. Of the very few interviews the White House has granted throughout Biden's presidency, several of them were given to NBC and MSNBC stars like Joe Scarborough, Nicolle Wallace, Lester Holt, Stephanie Ruhle, Lawrence O'Donnell, Al Roker and Jonathan Capehart, the latter of whom most recently landed his second interview with the president earlier this month.

Nicolle Wallace interviews Biden

MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace was giddy during her exclusive sit-down with President Biden last year. (Screenshots/MSNBC)

NBC's lurch to the left is no secret. In fact, its stars have been transparent with their liberal ideology and their philosophy when it comes to journalism for years. 

In a 2019 "Meet the Press" special that dedicated an entire hour to the "climate crisis," Todd banned climate change skeptics from appearing on his show. 

"We’re not going to debate climate change, the existence of it. The Earth is getting hotter and human activity is a major cause, period," Todd told viewers at the time. "We’re not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not."


"NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt, who was tapped as one of the moderators at the NBC-hosted debate during the GOP primaries last fall, said "it’s become clear that fairness is overrated" while accepting a journalism award in 2021, adding that "the idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in."

"That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention," Holt said. "Decisions to not give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of agenda. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Providing an open platform for misinformation, for anyone to come say whatever they want, especially when issues of public health and safety are at stake, can be quite dangerous. Our duty is to be fair to the truth."

Lester Holt

NBC's Lester Holt declared "fairness is overrated" while accepting a journalism award in 2021. (Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty Images)

And as Maddow told her viewers Monday night while denouncing the "inexplicable" McDaniel hire, their role in the media is to defend democracy. 

"It's about our system of government and undermining elections and going after democracy as an ongoing project," Maddow said. "And this is a difficult time for us as a country. And I think that means we need to be clear-eyed about the implications of it. Difficult times make for difficult decisions. We are contending with something we've never had to contend with before. In the news business, yes, we are covering an election, which we do all the time, but we're also covering bad actors trying to use the rights and privileges of a democracy to end democracy!" 

In a direct plea to her NBC bosses, Maddow added, "Take a minute, acknowledge that maybe it wasn't the right call. It is a sign of strength, not weakness, to acknowledge when you are wrong. It is a sign of strength. And our country needs us to be strong right now."

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