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What a Coup! NBC News Just Hired Ronna McDaniel. – Mother Jones

What a Coup! NBC News Just Hired Ronna McDaniel. – Mother Jones
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Mother Jones illustration; Ricky Fitchett/ZUMA Wire; Getty

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On Friday, NBC News announced the newest hire to its politics team—former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, who stepped down from her old post earlier this month so that former President Donald Trump could install a new leadership team that includes his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump.

In a memo announcing the move, according to the New York Times, NBC News senior vice president of politics Carrie Budoff Brown said, “It couldn’t be a more important moment to have a voice like Ronna’s on the team.”

Well, I don’t know—is it really?

While ex-strategists or party chairs ending up with TV deals is hardly unprecedented, Trump’s attacks on the media don’t have a parallel in modern US politics. He has called the press the “enemy of the people” and accused them of “treason.” A close ally has already signaled that Trump would use the powers of his office to crack down on critical outlets, if he wins a second term. Spending seven years running interference for a fascistic fraudster who holds the First Amendment in roughly the same terminal contempt with which he regards women and low-flow toilets is not the kind of thing that should qualify you for a new career in journalism.

But McDaniel did more than shill for the president. She played an important role in public and behind the scenes in Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election—and with it, two and a half centuries of constitutional governance. That should be a clear red line for employers in the truth-telling business. In November 2020 story in Politico, just a few months before the Capitol insurrection, Tim Alberta offered a glimpse of how McDaniel abetted Trump’s lies about the election and allowed her party organization to amplify them in even more absurd ways: 

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McDaniel told multiple confidants that she doubted there was any scalable voter fraud in Michigan. Nevertheless, McDaniel told friends and fellow Republicans that she needed to stay the course with Trump and his legal team. This wasn’t about indulging him, she said, but rather about demonstrating a willingness to fight—even when the fight couldn’t be won.

This is why McDaniel has sanctioned her employees, beginning with top spokesperson Liz Harrington, to spread countless demonstrable falsehoods in the weeks since Election Day. It’s why the RNC, on McDaniel’s watch, tweeted out a video clip of disgraced lawyer Sidney Powell claiming Trump “won in a landslide” (when he lost by more than 6 million votes nationally) and alleging a global conspiracy to rig the election against him. 

McDaniel pushed to delay the certification of the presidential results in Michigan, and helped the Trump campaign assemble fake electors, a key part of its plot to throw the Electoral College certification into chaos. This is not standard-issue party-chair stuff. This was a historically dishonest conspiracy. And it is hardly a secret to anyone: As Media Matters noted on Friday, you can read about a lot of this at NBC News itself.

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And that’s sort of the larger point here. NBC News is filled with professional journalists doing good work. Many of them have documented in exhausting (or actually quite lively and entertaining) detail the ways in which Trump and his helpers have corroded American democracy. McDaniel, on the other hand, was a major player in a political project that’s antithetical to that mission. Trump’s GOP was and is built on delegitimizing the people and institutions that might otherwise check it—Congress; the judiciary; the electorates of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Foremost among the institutions Trump wants to blow up is legacy political media, and its critical, fact-checked information stream. The goal is to erode trust in the press. I’m not sure why the suits at NBC News think it’s in anyone’s best interest to hire someone to do that work for Trump.



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