Firestorm – Day Two

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As we noted Monday, all NBC News platforms are heavily populated with former Republican and Democratic officials, operatives, and elected officials. We have also noted in recent months that some of that on-air talent – both Democrats and Republicans – have only too recently been directly involved in government and we have noted the uncomfortable feeling that creates.

But it seems obvious that the hiring of Ronna McDaniel has touched a nerve that threatens the integrity of the news organization and will make it a difficult place to work as long as McDaniel remains on the payroll.

NBC News and McDaniel are hunkering down in the face of criticism, refusing to comment as on-air talent revolts. Chuck Todd, Kristen Welker, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Nicolle Wallace, Jen Psaki, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell are among those who spoke out on-air Monday. In any business that list represents a personnel issue.

To those who ask what’s the difference between McDaniel and all the rest it is this: McDaniel was directly involved, and caught on tape, working with former President Trump to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from Trump to President Biden. Even this weekend, during her first appearance on NBC, she did not fully walk away from claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

On January 20, 2021, when Trump called her from Air Force One and threatened to start his own political party, instead of saying “good luck with that,” she convinced him to remain in the Republican Party making her part of the McDaniel, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy troika who kept Trump’s political career alive for another election cycle.

From The Guardian:

“What NBC has done of its own volition is bring into a very important conversation about democracy, one which is going to take place for the next seven months or so, someone who … tried to disassemble our democracy. Who personally took part in an attempt to undo the American system,” said Yale Professor Timothy Synder, an expert on the rise of anti-democratic forces.

…the anti-Trump conservative ex-congresswoman Liz Cheney said that as RNC chair, McDaniel “facilitated Trump’s corrupt fake elector plot and his effort to pressure Michigan officials not to certify the legitimate election outcome. She spread his lies and called January 6 ‘legitimate political discourse’. That’s not ‘taking one for the team’. It’s enabling criminality and depravity.”

Which is all to say the McDaniel case is not like the others.

From a public relations perspective, as of Tuesday morning, NBC News is handling the situation as news media companies often do, by offering no comment and hoping to ride out the storm. Calling for transparency for all others, but refusing to offer transparency to those asking questions of NBC.

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