Guthrie: NBC Hiring McDaniel Crossed ‘The Line,’ Bosses Admitted ‘Mistake’

News & Politics

NBC’s Today anchor Savannah Guthrie traveled to CBS and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday to promote her new book, but before that, Colbert couldn’t help but ask about Ronna McDaniel-gate.  Guthrie claimed that the NBC brass “acknowledged a mistake” in hiring the former RNC chairwoman because “there’s a line and the line is truth.”

A half-sincere, half-joking Colbert asked, “Well, one of the big stories about NBC and about NBC News recently was the hiring of and firing of Ronna McDaniel, who used to be head of the RNC, and so my question for you is why did you, Savannah Guthrie, personally make that decision to hire her? I want you to answer for your crimes. Why did you think that was the best idea?”

After some crosstalk and jests where Guthrie insisted she was still employed by NBC and therefore not going to say anything too crazy, she recalled, “No, I mean, look, it was an unpleasant few days at our network. No question about it.”

Colbert followed up by wondering, “Did you know this was going to happen?” After Guthrie replied “absolutely not,” he repeated himself, “So, there was no, like, company-wide email saying ‘oh, heads-up, tomorrow we’re going to announce this?’”

Guthrie recalled, “No, no, no, I was not in the know. I knew nothing about it and, look, the bosses made a decision, they reversed that decision, they acknowledged a mistake, and we moved on, and the only thing I’ll say about it is number one, I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

Paying lip service to the idea that outlets like NBC should have a variety of voices, Guthrie continued, “But look, I think the instinct to try to have a diversity of opinions and a diversity of perspectives and voices as we cover an election is the right instinct, and it’s complex, and it’s made more complex by the politics that we have right now, but, you know, I went to law school. In law school, we learned that if you didn’t engage the counterargument, if you didn’t know what all sides were saying, your own position was quite weak.”

However, she was still glad to see that McDaniel was eventually let go, “So, I feel that particularly in mainstream media, we need to include an array of voices. But there’s a line, and the line is truth. The line is facts and the line is you have to be someone upholding our democracy and that’s to me where the line is.”

That would be more credible if NBC/MSNBC followed up by hiring at least one consistent conservative voice or didn’t spread false information on a regular basis, if the media didn’t routinely freak out about conservative hires, or didn’t play nice with Democratic election deniers. The Late Show, meanwhile, never has any conservative voices unless Colbert ends up getting more than he bargained for when speaking to Liz Cheney.

Here is a transcript for the April 2 show:

CBS The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

4/3/2024

12:06 AM ET

STEPHEN COLBERT: Well, one of the big stories about NBC and about NBC News recently was the hiring of and firing of Ronna McDaniel, who used to be head of the RNC, and so my question for you is why did you, Savannah Guthrie, personally make that decision to hire her?

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: I’m glad that you—

COLBERT: I want you to answer for your crimes. Why did you think that was the best idea? 

GUTHRIE: I’m glad you have given me this platform—

COLBERT: Thank you.

GUTHRIE: Let me see if I can make this as boring as possible, this answer and I do still work there, you know that, right? 

COLBERT: Sure, yeah. I do. I do.

GUTHRIE: Do you have any openings around here?

COLBERT: Yeah. So, yeah.

GUTHRIE: No, I mean, look, it was an unpleasant few days at our network. No question about it.

COLBERT: Did you know this was going to happen? 

GUTHRIE: Absolutely not. 

COLBERT: So, there was no, like, company-wide email saying “oh, heads-up, tomorrow we’re going to announce this?”

GUTHRIE: No, no, no, I was not in the know. I knew nothing about it and, look, the bosses made a decision, they reversed that decision, they acknowledged a mistake and, we moved on, and the only thing I’ll say about it is number one, I didn’t have anything to do with it. 

But look, I think the instinct to try to have a diversity of opinions and a diversity of perspectives and voices as we cover an election is the right instinct, and it’s complex, and it’s made more complex by the politics that we have right now, but, you know, I went to law school. In law school, we learned that if you didn’t engage the counterargument, if you didn’t know what all sides were saying, your own position was quite weak. 

So, I feel that particularly in mainstream media, we need to include an array of voices. But there’s a line, and the line is truth. The line is facts and the line is you have to be someone upholding our democracy and that’s to me where the line is. 

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