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Chuck Todd Blasts NBC On-Air for Hiring Ronna McDaniel

NBC
NBC

Free from the Republican National Committee’s shackles, newly minted NBC News contributor Ronna McDaniel made her first appearance on Sunday, a move former Meet the Press host Chuck Todd blasted the network for—while on air.

McDaniel made her first appearance on the network on Sunday’s Meet The Press, where she was pressed by moderator Kristen Welker about her personal stances on various issues—and where she once stood while RNC chairwoman. The interview was McDaniel’s first appearance on the network since NBC announced she would join as an on-air contributor ahead of the 2024 election, sparking anger by some within NBC over McDaniel’s past public allegiance to Trump and her past comments about the validity of the 2020 election.

“This interview was scheduled weeks before it was announced that McDaniel would become a paid NBC News contributor,” Welker said in an on-air disclosure. “This will be a news interview, and I was not involved in her hiring.”

McDaniel’s simple appearance on the network followed a wave of criticism both publicly and internally after NBC announced it had hired McDaniel to join as a contributor for NBC News and its platforms. MSNBC’s president told staffers it had no plans to host McDaniel on the network, according to The Wall Street Journal, less than a year after McDaniel criticized “MSNBC’s primetime propagandists” for not covering special counsel John Durham’s report sufficiently enough to her liking.

Ex-RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel Joins News Network She Once Trashed

That public anger seeped into view on Sunday when former Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd, appearing on the show’s analysis panel, complimented Welker for conducting the interview despite an “impossible situation.”

"Our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this situation," he told Welker.

Todd noted that he struggled believing McDaniel due to her “credibility issues,” speculating she may have chosen her answers carefully in fear of damaging her contract with the network. “There’s a reason why there’s a lot of journalists at NBC News uncomfortable with this,” he said.

Todd added: “You got put into an impossible situation, booking this interview, and then all of a sudden the rug was pulled out from under you, and you find out she's being paid to show up? It’s unfortunate for this program, but I am glad you did the best that you could.”

MSNBC Boss: No Plan to Have Ronna McDaniel on OUR Shows

Welker pressed McDaniel on Donald Trump’s vow to free those arrested for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the RNC’s past support for the prisoners, which McDaniel tried to distance herself from on Sunday.

“The violence that happened on January 6th is unacceptable,” McDaniel said. “It doesn't represent our country. It certainly does not represent my party. We should not be attacking the Capitol. We should not be having violence. I said it that day. I put a statement out that day that this is not acceptable. If you attacked our capital, and you've been convicted, then that should stay.”

McDaniel had spoken out against the violence in the days after the attack, including when she was re-elected to lead the RNC in January 2021. But Welker pressed her on why she was only now diverging from the former president, who has labeled the convicts “prisoners” and “hostages” for months.

“When you’re the RNC chair, you kind of take one for the whole team, right?” McDaniel said. “Now I get to be a little bit more myself, right? This is what I believe. I don't think violence should be in our political discourse, Republican or Democrat, and I disagree with that. I agree with him on a whole host of other things. Let’s close the border. Let’s make sure we have good incomes for people. Let’s make sure we do a lot of great things. But on that point, I don't think we should be freeing people who violently attacked Capitol Hill police officers and attacked the Capitol.”

Trump Vows to Free Jan. 6 ‘Hostages’ as One of His ‘First Acts’ as President

But McDaniel did not clearly label herself as an avatar for the entire RNC when she released statements in 2022 defending those at the Capitol engaging in “legitimate political discourse.” It came as the RNC condemned then-Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Liz Cheney (R-WY) for serving on the House’s select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

“We’ve had two members engage in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse,” she said at the time, according to NBC News. She later tried to draw a line between those who committed violence at the Capitol, though the government has arrested hundreds of the rioters for a host of illegal activities they partook in that day.

Still, McDaniel noted that, despite her admittance that Trump “absolutely wanted me to move aside” and his public promise to free those arrested for the Capitol attack, she planned to vote for him in November.

“I don't think there’s any choice but to vote for the Republican,” McDaniel said. “Even though you may have disagreements, it’s him or Biden and that's the choice.”

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