MSNBC Hosts Spike The Football After NBC’s Firing Of Ronna McDaniel

March 27th, 2024 1:15 AM

Several of the hosts at MSNBC, pleased with having cowed leadership into terminating the contract of former RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, took to the air and celebrated the ouster in an eye roll-inducing display of pious self-congratulation. The inmates rejoice, secure in the knowledge that they do, in fact, run the asylum.

The evening began innocently enough, with Ari Melber soberly breaking the news and reading, without really any subsequent dunking, the statement put forth by NBCUniversal News Chairman Cesar Conde (click “expand”):

ARI MELBER: We want to turn now to an update from NBC News. NBC News leadership has announced that former RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel will not be an NBC News contributor. We have a new email and update that's come out just within this hour, so this is sort of breaking news here within our organization on a story that has garnered significant attention and criticism. And what I'm going to do now, to be very clear, is read the entire update from NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde. He has written in this new email, quote: “There's no doubt that the last several days have been difficult for the news group. After listening to the concerns of many of you, I have decided that Ronna McDaniel will not be an NBC News contributor.” He goes on to write that “no organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned. Over the last few days, it has become clear that this  appointment undermines that goal.” The news chairman continues to say, quote, “I want to personally apologize to our team members who felt we let them down. While this was a collective recommendation by some members of our leadership team, I approved it and take full responsibility for it”, says Cesar Conde, the chairman. He explains, quote, “Our initial decision 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.” And then, in closing, this message which again is brand-new. We're airing it for the first time here on MSNBC having come out this hour- quote: “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”, end quote. If you watch MSNBC as you probably do if you're listening to me right now or you follow news media and politics, this has been a roiling debate since that initial announcement was made on Friday. Many people have weighed in and now the News Chairman says, in response to the legitimate criticism including on this channel, Ms. McDaniel will not be a contributor here. That is the news update.

Other than “legitimate criticism”, Melber said nothing really out of the ordinary and handled the story matter-of-factly. 

The same can not be said for Joy Reid and Rachel Maddow, who took a victory lap and celebrated their heckler’s veto (click “expand”): 

JOY REID: Another thing happened that is not about the abortion situation. Our chairman of the NBC Universal News Group, Cesar Conde, who we both know very well, he sent a memo that we all got as employees here, rescinding the hiring of Ronna Romney-McDaniel. And I know I felt strongly about it, I know you felt very strongly about it- I think everyone from 4 o’clock on, from Nicolle to midnight, we all felt very strongly and said so on our respective shows yesterday. And I just have to say, when somebody does the right thing, I feel like it should be acknowledged as publicly as we acknowledge our outrage. And so I know how I feel about it. I am grateful to Cesar for actually making the right decision. I think it was the right decision. But I want to get your take as well.

RACHEL MADDOW: Thank you for asking me about it. I still feel like- I still feel like a little -- it always feels wrong to talk about things, you know, in the company as if it's news. 

REID:  Agreed. 

MADDOW: It's not the way either you or I are wired. But I will just say that journalists are a fractious bunch, and in our big company with all sorts of different journalistic entities you have all sorts of different people working in this business doing all sorts of different work. And to see the, essentially, unanimous feeling among all of the journalists in this building and also our senior staff and all the producers and everybody in this building about this was one thing. But then to see the executives and the leadership hear that, and respond to it, and be willing to change course based on it, based on their respect for us and hearing what we argued, I have deep respect for that. I do- I mean what I said on the air last night in my show, that I think that acknowledging that you might have gotten something wrong is a real sign of strength, a real show of strength. And I think it's a show of strength and I think it’s a show of respect for the people who work at this company and who make us who we are. That leadership was willing to change on this, and I'm grateful to them. You know, it's not about hiring a Republican. It’s not even about hiring somebody who has Trump ties. This was a really specific case because of Ms. McDaniel’s- her involvement in the election interference stuff. And I'm grateful that our leadership was willing to do the, I think, the bold, strong, resilient thing. 

REID: Yeah. I mean, we're going to be using her name because she's a witness in the Michigan electors case. It's less awkward to have to say, “and by the way, this person works for NBC News”. We're glad we don’t have to do that.

A recurring theme here is the insistence from some of these propagandists on calling themselves journalists. Especially Maddow, who willfully spread some of the most egregious lies on the efficacy of the Covid vaccine and who gleefully reported the Russia Hoax as factual. What does this all say about Cesar conde, who allowed himself to be held hostage on personnel decisions by a bunch of partisan propagandists?

We then move on to Chris Hayes, whose take reminds us of the old South Park episode about the “Pious” sedan (click “expand”). 

CHRIS HAYES: A couple of hours ago, NBC News announced that Ronna Romney-McDaniel, the former chairperson of the Republican National Committee, will not be a contributor to the network. This comes four days after NBC News announced her hiring as a political analyst. As you might know, we don't have a show on weekends or Mondays and between then and now I've been closely following the news and talking to lots of people inside the company. And most of what I wanted to say about al this has already been said very well by my colleagues from people like Chuck Todd and Joe Scarborough, to Nicolle Wallace and Joy Reid and Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and others. There’s a reason so many people had this reaction. It’s not because McDaniel is a Republican or a conservative and everyone thought, “oh no a Republican on NBC News”. We all recognize a variety of views is vitally important in understanding our country and doing good programming. The reason this precipitated the visceral gut reaction that it did is that there's just a pretty bright red line in American life after January 6th. On one side of that line are people who aided and abetted this attempt to end the democratic system as we know it. To steal a free and fair election. An attempt that, as Rachel noted last night, is ongoing. It’s very much still happening. There’s lots of Republicans who tried to stop that. But Ronna Romney-McDaniel is unfortunately on the wrong side of that red line. She aided and abetted in the biggest attack to destroy American democracy since the Civil War. She helped perpetuate lies that Donald Trump told as part of his plot to overthrow the constitutional order. As members of the press, as democratic citizens I, we believe in democracy as a system. We’re pro-democracy. We want to keep the system going. People involved in the kind of work we do every day are also signed on to that basic project, I think. And we are in this business at a time when the information environment has never been more polluted and more confusing. More people try to pass off dubious stories and lies. It's important for us to do the best we can to tell the truth all the time and everyone is going to make mistakes. Lord knows we certainly make them. But the big lie of a stolen election is one of the most consequential, systematic lies told in recent memory, probably up there with all the lies about the vaccine, both of which have incredibly damaging effects and both of which have really destroyed the credibility of the people and institutions and the political parties and the corporations that are associated with them. In the end, all you can really ask of people in our profession is diligence, and open-mindedness, and critical thinking, and above all else and this is really important to me, good faith. When I'm speaking to you here right now I'm not putting on a show about what I think and believe. This is it. I could be wrong about things, Lord knows I must be sometimes. I might have opinions you think are wrong, we might tell stories in ways that you think leave stuff out or emphasize a wrong angle but the key to this entire enterprise is the kind of bedrock trust- the trust that we that we really are acting in good faith. We really are trying to get it right. We are not feeding you lies to be good team players. It’s a foundational principle for both working in the press and, I think, healthy democratic dialogue and debate. Whatever your ideology is, wherever you come down on issues, whoever you support for president. Whatever you believe in. And I have to say- I really appreciate working at a place that was able to say, “we got this one wrong”, and they made the right decision.

Again, the biggest fraud here is these guys insisting that they be taken seriously as “journalists”. Say what you want about Ronna, but she’s the most transparent out of everyone involved in this sorry episode. Hayes has some chutzpah talking about polluted information environments, given MSNBC’s role (and the corporate media’s writ large) in polluting the information environment.

Finally, there’s Alex Wagner, who echoes some of Hayes’ thematics but seems less enamored with the sound of her own voice (click “expand”):

ALEX WAGNER: Before we go, I do have an update on a story that some of you may have been following in recent days. NBC News has announced tonight that it has dropped former RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel as a paid on-air contributor. Now, that decision comes less than a week after this company announced Ms. McDaniel's hiring, and it is due in no small part to the efforts here both in front of the camera and behind it, to make clear that her hiring was a very serious mistake. A lot of my colleagues in prime time here, actually all of them, are weighing in on this so I'm not going to belabor the point except to say election denial lists do not belong on the payroll of a news organization. People who seek to undermine democracy should not be contracted to work at an institution that seeks to preserve it. Tonight the man who is the boss of all of us, NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde, confirmed that Ronna McDaniel would not be an NBC News contributor either. In a note to the staff he said, “no organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned. Over the last few days it has become clear that this appointment undermines that goal”. Through the last few days, we have been given license to say what we felt was wrong with this call. And so I also think it's important to speak up when we feel like the right thing was done. Companies make mistakes. Sometimes very big ones, sometimes very publicly. What matters especially, in the end, is how they correct them. And from what we can see right now, at this hour, it looks like our company listened to us, to you, and did what was right. 

Thankfully, both Ali Velshi (sitting in for Lawrence O’Donnell) and Stephanie Ruhle spared us the indignity of additional hot takery and preening triumphalism. But the fact remains that MSNBC flexed veto power over a personnel decision, and this will have repercussions beyond McDaniel. 

What happens when the MSNBC mob howls over the hiring of someone who advocates against puberty blockers for minors, or for the unborn, or who thinks that the United States should wind down its assistance to Ukraine? Getting a commentator fired over J6 may seem like low-hanging fruit today, but it is in fact a slippery slope. Cesar Conde caved to the MSNBC mob, plain and simple. And the mob is never, ever fully placated.