NBC News hires Ronna McDaniel, who played a key role in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to NBC News

Even participating in an attempted coup can’t disrupt the politics-to-pundit pipeline

NBC News has hired former Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel to serve as an on-air commentator, meaning that NBC News just hired a key figure in former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election, according to NBC News.

McDaniel left the RNC after losing Trump’s favor, only to be welcomed into the warmer waters of television punditry. NBC News’ Carrie Budoff Brown announced the hiring of the former RNC chair to the network, writing in a memo to staff, “It couldn’t be a more important moment to have a voice like Ronna’s on the team."

What, exactly, are NBC News and MSNBC getting with “a voice like Ronna’s?” Let’s turn to the network’s own coverage for answers.

On June 21, 2022, NBC News published a story under the headline “Trump team orchestrated 'fake electors' to try to overturn election, Jan. 6 committee details.” The piece described the then-latest findings of the House January 6 committee and spelled out McDaniel’s role in the scheme. As NBC News reported, Trump called McDaniel and connected her with John Eastman, one of the architects of the subversion plot.

“Essentially he turned the call over to Mr. Eastman who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing changed the result of any of the states,” McDaniel said, according to NBC News.

CNBC reported on another of McDaniel’s statements to the committee, acknowledging her and the RNC’s direct participation in the fake elector plot. McDaniel said that the RNC’s role was “helping them reach out and helping them assemble them, but my understanding is the campaign did take the lead and we just were helping them in that role.”

Or, in the words of MSNBC’s Steve Benen: “Ronna McDaniel acknowledged that the Republican National Committee helped put the slates of fake electors together."

One of Benen’s MSNBC colleagues would later report that McDaniel sent a report to Trump’s executive assistant detailing the activities of the fake electors in the contested states.

That wasn’t NBC News’ only coverage of McDaniel and the January 6 committee. The outlet also reported on a February 2022 RNC meeting where McDaniel and others supported a resolution to censor two Republicans who participated in the January 6 hearings — Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).

In another report on the measure, NBC News quoted McDaniel as saying Cheney and Kinzinger “crossed a line,” adding: “They chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.”

If participating in the fake electors scheme and defending the insurrection isn’t a deal-breaker, it’s perhaps not surprising that McDaniel’s other attempts at election interference didn’t give NBC News pause either.

In December 2023, NBC News reported — citing a local news outlet — that McDaniel had been on a call with Trump on November 17, 2020, during which the outgoing president pressured Republican election officials in Michigan not to certify the vote counts.

“If you can go home tonight, do not sign it. ... We will get you attorneys,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel’s anti-democratic positions go on, according to her new employer, NBC News. In 2020, the RNC sued California after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to expand mail-in voting during the pandemic. McDaniel referred to it as “radical" and a “recipe for disaster that would create more opportunities for fraud.”

NBC News also reported last October that Georgia prosecutors were seeking to compel testimony from McDaniel in their case against Trump’s pressure campaign in that state. Prosecutors argued that, as NBC News characterized it, McDaniel has “unique knowledge” about “the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election."

NBC News executives can perhaps be forgiven for these repeated oversights, though. After all, the network laid off dozens of its news staffers in January, so maybe there aren’t enough researchers around to dig into the network’s own coverage of its newest contributor.