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The unpleasant episode hasn’t swayed NBC from the time-tested principle of having diverse voices on its airwaves, or at least from reciting the cliché. “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,” wrote Conde in the staff memo.

Let’s hope the company’s redoubled efforts include checking some transcripts. A look back at McDaniel’s mentions on MSNBC airwaves, after all, yields a hint or two that key talent might just object to sharing office space with her. In November 2020, for instance, host Chris Hayes pointed to a CNN video in which McDaniel faced questions from a Republican voter in Georgia who wondered why she should bother voting if the result had already been decided. “It’s not decided,” responded McDaniel. “This is the key.” Hayes went after the GOP chair: “She is staring into the eyes of the addicts that she helped create. They consumed the drugs she sold them.”

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In a January 2023 show, MSNBC host Ari Melber referred to McDaniel as a “coup enabler.” The GOP chair was a third-tier supporter of President Donald Trump’s attempts to challenge the 2020 election — not a sufficiently vocal activist to please Trump but one who left her fingerprints on the undertaking nonetheless. The final report of the Jan. 6 select committee, for instance, cites McDaniel’s assistance in a scheme to put forth a slate of fake electors for Trump. The federal indictment against Trump for conspiracy to defraud the United States also makes mention of McDaniel’s involvement, a point noted by host Maddow in her monologue on MSNBC arguing why McDaniel shouldn’t be on the company’s payroll. “What was the project? It was to use the power of the Republican Party … to reject election results, to take over the government and hold power by other means,” said Maddow.

Like any contemporary pol, McDaniel monitored her media and pushed back from time to time. In tweets over the years, she lashed out at “MSNBC’s prime time propagandists,” accused the network of spreading “lies” about Trump, called it “completely unhinged,” hammered it for “astounding” bias.

So a master’s in library sciences wasn’t required to determine that McDaniel would land with a thud on an MSNBC set. Executives at the company get paid millions of dollars each year to provide high-level direction — that includes identifying contributors who can add value to the network, as well as sussing out how on-air folks would respond to a potential strategic hire. Here the failure was total. In an appearance this past Sunday on “This Week,” ABC News political analyst (and former Republican National Committee chair) Reince Priebus commented, “I’ve never been hired without the management bringing me in, meeting with people, doing interviews where I wasn’t on a signed contract, finding out whether I could get off the talking points or not.” NBC News declined to comment when asked whether such steps were taken.

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Into the wreckage step the attorneys: Politico reported last week that McDaniel was seeking representation for a legal strategy to recoup damages beyond what her contract would have paid her, perhaps by pursuing claims for defamation and a hostile workplace. Those sound like weak options, in part because a defamation complaint would require proving that the MSNBC accusations were false. They were not only factual but compelling — I wouldn’t want to call McDaniel a colleague, either.

Yet McDaniel’s exploration of her legal options seems not only rational but also righteous: She had every reason to believe that the people who hired her would stand by her, but they bailed almost immediately. If only there were a tort for lazy management practices — then McDaniel would get her due.

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Leadership at NBC last week fired contributor Ronna McDaniel, former chair of the Republican National Committee, after a tenure stretching just beyond a weekend. Which aspect of this managerial flip-flop was most embarrassing: Was it the on-air rebellion among network talent, featuring Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow? Was it the feeling that the networks’ C-suite wasn’t in charge of the airwaves? Or was it the sense that McDaniel understood MSNBC a bit better than those executives did?

Door No. 3, for sure.

As Sarah Ellison and Josh Dawsey reported last week in The Post, McDaniel expressed a preference to limit her appearances to NBC News, as opposed to MSNBC, where she feared that “she would face particularly harsh interviews, and the liberal-leaning viewers would not respond to her positively.” Whatever her misgivings, she signed up for double duty under a contract that would pay her about $300,000 per year. Carrie Budoff Brown, senior vice president for politics coverage at NBC News, celebrated the development: “It couldn’t be a more important moment to have a voice like Ronna’s on the team.”

“The team” didn’t agree — and intramural criticism took on an extramural aspect with several MSNBC anchors devoting airtime to slamming the McDaniel contract. On March 26, NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde wrote in a staff memo: “After listening to the legitimate concerns of many of you, I have decided that Ronna McDaniel will not be an NBC News contributor. No organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned.” He also issued this quasi-mea culpa: “While this was a collective recommendation by some members of our leadership team, I approved it and take full responsibility for it.” Dylan Byers, a media reporter for Puck who broke the news of McDaniel’s termination, said that almost every member of the NBC News leadership team “either encouraged” McDaniel’s hiring “or at least signed off on it.”

The unpleasant episode hasn’t swayed NBC from the time-tested principle of having diverse voices on its airwaves, or at least from reciting the cliché. “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,” wrote Conde in the staff memo.

Let’s hope the company’s redoubled efforts include checking some transcripts. A look back at McDaniel’s mentions on MSNBC airwaves, after all, yields a hint or two that key talent might just object to sharing office space with her. In November 2020, for instance, host Chris Hayes pointed to a CNN video in which McDaniel faced questions from a Republican voter in Georgia who wondered why she should bother voting if the result had already been decided. “It’s not decided,” responded McDaniel. “This is the key.” Hayes went after the GOP chair: “She is staring into the eyes of the addicts that she helped create. They consumed the drugs she sold them.”

In a January 2023 show, MSNBC host Ari Melber referred to McDaniel as a “coup enabler.” The GOP chair was a third-tier supporter of President Donald Trump’s attempts to challenge the 2020 election — not a sufficiently vocal activist to please Trump but one who left her fingerprints on the undertaking nonetheless. The final report of the Jan. 6 select committee, for instance, cites McDaniel’s assistance in a scheme to put forth a slate of fake electors for Trump. The federal indictment against Trump for conspiracy to defraud the United States also makes mention of McDaniel’s involvement, a point noted by host Maddow in her monologue on MSNBC arguing why McDaniel shouldn’t be on the company’s payroll. “What was the project? It was to use the power of the Republican Party … to reject election results, to take over the government and hold power by other means,” said Maddow.

Like any contemporary pol, McDaniel monitored her media and pushed back from time to time. In tweets over the years, she lashed out at “MSNBC’s prime time propagandists,” accused the network of spreading “lies” about Trump, called it “completely unhinged,” hammered it for “astounding” bias.

So a master’s in library sciences wasn’t required to determine that McDaniel would land with a thud on an MSNBC set. Executives at the company get paid millions of dollars each year to provide high-level direction — that includes identifying contributors who can add value to the network, as well as sussing out how on-air folks would respond to a potential strategic hire. Here the failure was total. In an appearance this past Sunday on “This Week,” ABC News political analyst (and former Republican National Committee chair) Reince Priebus commented, “I’ve never been hired without the management bringing me in, meeting with people, doing interviews where I wasn’t on a signed contract, finding out whether I could get off the talking points or not.” NBC News declined to comment when asked whether such steps were taken.

Into the wreckage step the attorneys: Politico reported last week that McDaniel was seeking representation for a legal strategy to recoup damages beyond what her contract would have paid her, perhaps by pursuing claims for defamation and a hostile workplace. Those sound like weak options, in part because a defamation complaint would require proving that the MSNBC accusations were false. They were not only factual but compelling — I wouldn’t want to call McDaniel a colleague, either.

Yet McDaniel’s exploration of her legal options seems not only rational but also righteous: She had every reason to believe that the people who hired her would stand by her, but they bailed almost immediately. If only there were a tort for lazy management practices — then McDaniel would get her due.

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04.04.2024

Follow this authorErik Wemple's opinions

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The unpleasant episode hasn’t swayed NBC from the time-tested principle of having diverse voices on its airwaves, or at least from reciting the cliché. “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,” wrote Conde in the staff memo.

Let’s hope the company’s redoubled efforts include checking some transcripts. A look back at McDaniel’s mentions on MSNBC airwaves, after all, yields a hint or two that key talent might just object to sharing office space with her. In November 2020, for instance, host Chris Hayes pointed to a CNN video in which McDaniel faced questions from a Republican voter in Georgia who wondered why she should bother voting if the result had already been decided. “It’s not decided,” responded McDaniel. “This is the key.” Hayes went after the GOP chair: “She is staring into the eyes of the addicts that she helped create. They consumed the drugs she sold them.”

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In a January 2023 show, MSNBC host Ari Melber referred to McDaniel as a “coup enabler.” The GOP chair was a third-tier supporter of President Donald Trump’s attempts to challenge the 2020 election — not a sufficiently vocal activist to please Trump but one who left her fingerprints on the undertaking nonetheless. The final report of the Jan. 6 select committee, for instance, cites McDaniel’s assistance in a scheme to put forth a slate of fake electors for Trump. The federal indictment against Trump for conspiracy to defraud the United States also makes mention of McDaniel’s involvement, a point noted by host Maddow in her monologue on MSNBC arguing why McDaniel shouldn’t be on the company’s payroll. “What was the project? It was to use the power of the Republican Party … to reject election results, to take over the government and hold power by other means,” said Maddow.

Like any contemporary pol, McDaniel monitored her media and pushed back from time to time. In tweets over the years, she lashed out at “MSNBC’s prime time propagandists,” accused the network of spreading “lies” about Trump, called it “completely unhinged,” hammered it for “astounding” bias.

So a master’s in library sciences wasn’t required to determine that McDaniel would land with a thud on an MSNBC set. Executives at the company get paid millions of dollars each year to provide high-level direction — that includes identifying contributors who can add value to the........

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