MSNBC President Rashida Jones Initially Lobbied to Put Ronna McDaniel on the Network

Jones assured talent last weekend that McDaniel would not be appearing on MSNBC, immediately distancing herself from the hire

A woman in a red sweater (Ronna McDaniel) speaks at a podium. She has light-toned skin.
Ronna McDaniel (Credit: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

As more details are revealed about NBC News’ decision to hire and then subsequently part ways with former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, it appears MSNBC President Rashida Jones had more of a hand in her hiring than originally perceived. 

While McDaniel was recruited to contribute to NBC News specifically, she was offered a more lucrative contract after agreeing to appear on MSNBC as well, according to the Washington Post

Jones reportedly held a one-on-one video call with McDaniel in March after a contract was drawn up by NBC News. According to the Washington Post, top NBC News executives preferred to sign McDaniel to a contract with both channels. 

Notably, Jones was the first executive to assure her talent that McDaniel would not be appearing on the network, immediately distancing herself from the hire last weekend. It was also her talent that did a majority of the on-air protesting to McDaniel’s hiring, including Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Nicolle Wallace, Joy Reid, Jen Psaki, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell. 

Maddow took time to explain MSNBC’s position on Monday, saying that after backlash to the decision internally, MSNBC leadership “adjusted course.”

“Ronna McDaniel will not appear on MSNBC, so says our boss since Saturday, and it has never been anything other than clear,” Maddow said in a nearly 30-minute monologue on the subject of the hiring. 

After Chuck Todd first went on-air on Sunday and criticized the network for hiring McDaniel because of her 2020 presidential election denial, NBC News senior VP of politics Carrie Budoff Brown, who had a hand in the recruiting of McDaniel, reached out to the former RNC chair’s aide in an attempt to curry favor for McDaniel, according to a report from Puck News’ Dylan Byers

Puck also reports that the executive vice president of communications for NBC News Stephen Labaton reached out to McDaniel directly to ease concerns about pushback, comparing the situation to when the network hired Jen Psaki after her role as the Biden Administration’s White House press secretary. 

Additionally, people inside the network are frustrated with NBC News’ president of editorial Rebecca Blumenstein, who had a hand in courting McDaniel for the role. Blumenstein will travel to Washington D.C. to meet with staffers amid the fallout, according to CNN’s Oliver Darcy


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