Chuck Todd is questioning his network, NBC News, over the hiring of a former RNC chairman
Chuck Todd is questioning his network, NBC News, over the hiring of a former RNC chairman

Veteran NBC anchor Chuck Todd publicly attacked his own network’s leadership Sunday, questioning why NBC News hired Rona McDaniel, the former chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, and saying live on air, “There’s a reason why there are so many journalists from NBC News is embarrassed by this.

Mr. Todd’s comments on “Meet the Press,” the flagship political show he has hosted for nine years, were an extraordinary escalation of behind-the-scenes tensions simmering at NBC News and its cable cousin, MSNBC, after Friday’s announcement, that Ms. McDaniel was brought in as a political analyst.

Some NBC journalists were surprised by the decision to hire Ms. McDaniel, citing her tenure at the RNC under President Donald J. Trump, when she regularly echoed Mr. Trump’s criticisms of the news media and, in particular, MSNBC’s left-leaning programs.

Rashida Jones, the president of MSNBC, called several prominent anchors over the weekend to assure them they would not be forced to book Ms. McDaniel on their shows, according to a person briefed on the conversations, who requested anonymity to share details intended to be private.

Ms. McDaniel made her NBC debut on “Meet the Press” on Sunday in an appearance that the current host, Kristen Welker, told viewers was planned weeks before Ms. McDaniel joined as a paid contributor. “This will be a news interview and I had no part in her hiring,” Ms. Welker said.

After the interview aired, Ms. Welker joined the set for a live panel discussion that included Mr. Todd, who began his remarks by saying, “Let me address the elephant in the room.”

“I think our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this situation,” Mr Todd said. “Because I don’t know what to believe. She is now a paid contributor to NBC News, so I have no idea if any answer she gave you was because she didn’t want to mess up her contract.

Mr. Todd said Ms. McDaniel “has credibility issues” and continued: “There’s a reason many journalists at NBC News are uncomfortable with this because many of our professional dealings with the RNC over the past six years have been met with gaslight, were met with character assassination.

He added, “So when NBC made the decision to give her the credibility of NBC News, you have to ask yourself, ‘What does she bring to NBC News?’

Reached by phone Sunday, Ms. McDaniel declined to comment.

The path from Washington politics to the role of an on-air analyst is well traveled. Ms. McDaniel is just the latest leading Republican to sign a network deal; Reince Priebus, for example, who was Mr. Trump’s first chief of staff, is now an ABC News contributor.

Television news departments also seek to ensure that their campaign coverage includes a variety of ideological voices, not just pundits who lean to the political left. Executives at NBC News, which unlike MSNBC does not air public opinion programs, underscored that point in a memo Friday announcing Ms. McDaniel’s new role.

“It couldn’t be a more important time to have a voice like Rona’s on the team,” wrote Carrie Budoff Brown, NBC News political editor. “She will support our flagship coverage by providing an inside perspective on national politics and the future of the Republican Party.” NBC News already employs Republican commentators such as Mark Short, who served as chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence.

In her Sunday interview with Ms. McDaniel, Ms. Welker pressed the former Republican leader on whether he believed that President Biden had legitimately won the 2020 presidential election.

“Fair and fair, he won,” Ms McDaniel said. “It’s certified. It’s done.”

“Rhona, why did it take you until now to say that?” Mrs. Welker asked.

“I’m going to back off a little bit because I think it’s fair to say there were problems in 2020 and to say that doesn’t mean he’s not the legitimate president,” Ms. McDaniel responded.

Simone D. Sanders, a former chief spokeswoman for Vice President Kamala Harris who is now an MSNBC anchor, later praised Ms. Welker’s handling of the interview. typing X“She tapes her a lot.”

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