Chuck Todd slams NBC for hiring former RNC chief Rona McDaniel
Chuck Todd slams NBC for hiring former RNC chief Rona McDaniel

NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBC News “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd criticized his network Sunday for hiring former Republican National Committee chief Rona McDaniel as a paid contributor, saying on air that many NBC journalists feel uncomfortable with the decision.

Todd spoke on “Meet the Press” after his successor as moderator, Kristen Welker, interviewed McDaniel about her role after the 2020 election.

“Our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this situation because I don’t know what to believe,” Todd said. “I have no idea if any response she gave you was because she didn’t want to mess up her contract” with NBC, he said.

McDaniel “has credibility issues to deal with: Is she speaking for herself or is she speaking for whoever is paying for her?”

Todd said many NBC journalists were uncomfortable with the hire because some of their professional dealings with the RNC during McDaniel’s tenure “were met with gaslighting, were met with character assassination.”


NBC did not comment on Todd’s statement. The network announced McDaniel’s hiring on Friday, two weeks after she quit as RNC leader, saying McDaniel will add to NBC News’ coverage with an inside perspective on national politics and the future of the Republican Party.

“NBC News has a legacy of serving its audience with reporting that reflects and considers the diverse perspectives of the American voter,” Carrie Budoff Brown, NBC’s senior vice president of policy, said in a staff memo obtained by The Associated Press. She said McDaniel will contribute her analysis “across all NBC News platforms.”

One of the network’s platforms is cable network MSNBC, which appeals to liberal viewers. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that MSNBC’s president, Rashida Jones, had told employees that the network had no plans to bring McDaniel to the channel.

MSNBC would not comment on the report on Sunday. An MSNBC executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person would not publicly discuss internal matters, said individual network shows will decide whether to bring McDaniel on — not that there is a network-wide ban.


It is not unusual for television news outlets to hire politicians as analysts and commentators. One of McDaniel’s predecessors at the RNC, Michael Steele, is an MSNBC contributor who anchors a weekend news program there. CBS News has faced some backlash for hiring two former Trump administration officials, Reince Priebus and Mick Mulvaney, as analysts. Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former White House communications director during the Trump administration, has become a CNN political commentator.

But McDaniel’s tacit endorsement of Trump’s false claims that the outcome of the 2020 presidential election was rigged makes her hiring all the more sensitive given the ongoing legal and political fallout from the siege of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, which was the fruit of the fraud allegations.

Trump’s former press secretary, Sean Spicer, rebuked Todd on X, formerly Twitter, on Sunday. “Has he ever expressed concern about Jen Psaki joining a leftist network? Simon Sanders?” he asked, citing two former Biden administration staffers working at MSNBC.

Still, McDaniel’s role in supporting Trump and some of his comments about the 2020 election, as well as the speed of her transition to media work after being kicked out of the RNC by Trump, have drawn particular attention. The phrase #BoycottNBCNews was trending on X Sunday.

McDaniel’s interview on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” was booked prior to the announcement that she had been hired by the network.

During the interview, McDaniel acknowledged that Biden won the 2020 election “fair and square.” It was a reversal of her comment on CNN last summer when she said: “I don’t think he won it fair and square. I do not.”

On Sunday, she said: “The reality is that Joe Biden won. He is the president. He is the legitimate president. I have always said and continue to say that there were problems in 2020. I believe both could be true.”

Under questioning from Welker, McDaniel said Sunday that she disagreed with Trump’s assertion that people sentenced to prison for their part in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol should be released.

“Why don’t we talk sooner?” Welker asked.

“When you’re the chairman of the RNC, you take one for the whole team, right?” McDaniel said. “I have to be a little more myself now, don’t I? This is what I believe.”


Associated Press writer Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix contributed to this report.


David Bauder writes about the media for The Associated Press. Follow him on

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