PBS Attacks NBC’s ‘Gigantic Mistake’ Of Hiring Ronna McDaniel

News & Politics

New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post associate editor and MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart came together on Friday’s PBS NewsHour to lament NBC’s “gigantic mistake” of hiring former RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, whom they promptly fired after backlash from Capehart and his colleagues.

Host William Brangham set the stage by asking Brooks, “there was a revolt amongst many NBC anchors, who said, we can’t have someone who actively tried to undo the last election be on our payroll and be on our airwaves. How do you — what do you — what do you make of how that played out?”

Brooks began, “I was glad they had the instinct to get more Trump-supporting people on the air. I think that’s something we all need to work on.”

However, things then went off the rails, “But here was someone clearly over the line. Like, to be on our air and our newspapers, you got to have some intellectual credibility. You have to have some primary commitment to the truth and the truth above partisanship and she was someone who clearly fails that test. I’m so old-fashioned that our founder here, Jim Lehrer, didn’t vote. Like, he just thought, journalists, we don’t do that.”

How about the intellectual credibility of portraying yourself as the conservative half of Brooks and Capehart while routinely siding with him?

Brooks did acknowledge that being a contributor who is paid to give opinions is different than someone who is supposed to be a straight news person, but he also displayed some double standards, “Now, there are people who have gone from being a politico to being a journalist. George Stephanopoulos comes to mind and lots of people.”

He wrapped up his thoughts by adding, “You got to realize it’s a different job with a different set of priorities, a different set of ethics. And to get somebody right off the RNC on the air as an analyst strikes me as just a gigantic mistake.”

Jen Psaki came directly from the White House to be Capehart’s colleague at MSNBC, but Brangham didn’t ask either man about that. Instead, he turned to Capehart and wondered, “You are an employee of NBC and MSNBC and an anchor on one of — the wonderful show on that network. How did you respond to this?”

Capehart proudly recalled, “I sent an e-mail — from my team. I wrote in response, I want to be clear, she will never be on our show, for the exact reasons David talked about.”

He added, “this is not a partisan issue. This was a democracy issue. Every week, Saturday and Sunday, there’s at least one block on my show where we talk about either the threats to democracy, how democracy is at risk, the role Trump is playing at putting our democracy at risk.”

Continuing with his self-righteous ramblings, Capehart declared, “To have someone come on my show, where my — first and foremost, no matter who’s watching, my duty is to present the facts. The privilege I have is to be able to say, as an opinion writer and as a prospective host on MSNBC, is I get to say what I think about those facts that I’ve reported. It would do the show no good and it would do my viewers no favors and would be a disservice to put someone on like Ronna McDaniel.”

Apparently, Capehart is trying to get into comedy.

Here is a transcript for the March 29 show:

PBS NewsHour

3/29/2024

7:42 PM ET

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  OK, my next question. I want to talk about what happened with Ronna McDaniel at NBC. For those who are not following this, she was hired by NBC to be an on-air contributor. She’s the former chairperson of the Republican National Committee and there was a revolt amongst many NBC anchors, who said, we can’t have someone who actively tried to undo the last election be on our payroll and be on our airwaves. How do you — what do you — what do you make of how that played out?

DAVID BROOKS: I was glad they had the instinct to get more Trump-supporting people on the air. I think that’s something we all need to work on.

But here was someone clearly over the line. Like, to be on our air and our newspapers, you got to have some intellectual credibility. You have to have some primary commitment to the truth and the truth above partisanship and she was someone who clearly fails that test. I’m so old-fashioned that our founder here, Jim Lehrer, didn’t vote. Like, he just thought, journalists, we don’t do that.

I don’t go as far as Jim did. But I do think there’s a difference between being a politico, which is, I admire them, and what we do. They — we talk of — we’re supposed to be — represent the truth first and foremost and criticize the parties. And their job is to criticize them as to be partisan.

Now, there are people who have gone from being a politico to being a journalist. George Stephanopoulos comes to mind and lots of people.

BRANGHAM: Sure.

BROOKS: But you got to have — you got to realize it’s a different job with a different set of priorities, a different set of ethics. And to get somebody right off the RNC on the air as an analyst strikes me as just a gigantic mistake.

BRANGHAM: I mean, you are an employee of NBC and MSNBC and an anchor on one of — the wonderful show on that network. How did you respond to this?

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, let’s be clear that the Ronna McDaniel hiring was an NBC News hire. I’m at MSNBC. I’m not at NBC News. And when the announcement was made, e-mail came into the inbox. I sent an e-mail — from my team. I wrote in response, I want to be clear, she will never be on our show, for the exact reasons David talked about.

It is — I have no — this is not a partisan issue. This was a democracy issue.

Every week, Saturday and Sunday, there’s at least one block on my show where we talk about either the threats to democracy, how democracy is at risk, the role Trump is playing at putting our democracy at risk.

To have someone come on my show, where my — first and foremost, no matter who’s watching, my duty is to present the facts. The privilege I have is to be able to say, as an opinion writer and as a prospective host on MSNBC, is I get to say what I think about those facts that I’ve reported.

It would do the show no good and it would do my viewers no favors and would be a disservice to put someone on like Ronna McDaniel.

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