Former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel axed by NBC after intense backlash

The former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel is on her way out of NBC less than a week after joining the network, NBC announced in a memo from NBCUniversal News Group chair Cesar Conde.

Related: ‘Pretty bad’: NBC condemned by top US historian over role for Ronna McDaniel

Conde said he had listened to “the legitimate concerns” of many network employees. “No organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned,” he wrote. “Over the last few days, it has become clear that this appointment undermines that goal.”

Conde also apologized to employees “who felt we let them down” and said he took “full responsibility” for the hiring.

McDaniel has not commented on the memo. Her appointment as a political analyst for the network had been met with an extraordinary revolt by on-screen talent at NBC News and MSNBC, the left-leaning cable network.

In a letter to staff reported by the Wall Street Journal, Budoff Brown said: “It couldn’t be a more important moment to have a voice like Ronna’s on the team [to provide] an insider’s perspective on national politics and on the future of the Republican party.”

Appearing on NBC’s flagship Meet the Press show on Sunday, McDaniel said Joe Biden had won the 2020 election “fair and square”.

But she also claimed it was “fair to say there were problems [in elections in battleground states] in 2020” and said that while she did “not think violence should be in our political discourse”, she supported Donald Trump’s election fraud lie, which ultimately stoked the deadly January 6 attack on Congress, as a way of “taking one for the whole team” .

That interview prompted an angry on-air response from Chuck Todd, a former host.

Todd pointed to attacks on the press mounted by McDaniel in her seven-year spell at the head of the RNC, which coincided with Trump’s presidency and his surge to the Republican nomination this year.

Todd and other critics also highlighted McDaniel’s support for Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, including direct involvement in her home state, Michigan, and her backing of Trump in this election cycle, even as his criminal and civil court cases proliferated and he stoked fears of authoritarian ambitions.

Despite such support, McDaniel was ejected from the RNC last month, to be replaced by Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump.

A procession of senior NBC and MSNBC hosts followed Todd in protesting the McDaniel hire on air, from the popular husband-and-wife morning show team of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski to Jen Psaki, Nicolle Wallace, Joy-Ann Reid, Lawrence O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow.

Prominent rightwingers in media and politics cried foul, pointing to Psaki’s MSNBC role after being White House press secretary under Joe Biden as they alleged hypocrisy at the left-leaning network.

“But NBC hired a Republican??!!” the Texas senator Ted Cruz said. “It’s the end of the world.”

Todd was among those to respond, saying such claims ignored McDaniel’s support for Trump’s attempted election subversion.

“This is about whether honest journalists are supposed to lend their credibility to someone who intentionally tried to ruin ours,” Todd said.

On Monday night, Maddow, perhaps the biggest MSNBC primetime star, delivered a long monologue, saying in part: “We are contending with something we’ve never had to contend with before … bad actors trying to use the rights and privileges of the democracy to end democracy.

“The chief threat among them now is not the rioters and the kooks, but the slick political professionals who are turning their considerable talents to laundering violently revolutionary claims that America’s elections aren’t real.”

Reid said: “We welcome Republican people. I want [anti-Trump Republicans] Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney to come talk to me.

“This isn’t a difference of opinion. [McDaniel] literally backed an illegal scheme to steal an election in the state of Michigan. It’s not about partisanship. We have to be pro-democracy and that’s the goal here.”

Citing recent cuts in light of McDaniel’s reported $300,000 deal, a union group representing rank-and-file NBC News staffers also demanded management action.

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