NBC News causes newsroom controversy by bringing on former Trump ally

Plus, Alabama's new, repressive anti-DEI bill.

Media Corner

NBC staff are extremely bothered by the network’s hiring of former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel as an analyst. Concerns about McDaniel are rooted in her role in promoting doubt about the results of the 2020 presidential election — as well as the organization’s antagonistic disposition towards reporters during her time as chair. It took almost a year for McDaniel to publicly acknowledge that Joe Biden was victorious in 2020. 

McDaniel’s debut was an interview with “Meet the Press’” Kristen Welker that failed to assuage any anxieties that NBC anchors may have. Welker interrogated McDaniel, who was ousted from her RNC position in a recent purge, on her beliefs surrounding 2020. Despite telling Welker that she knows Biden won “fair and square,” McDaniel tried to sneak in doubt about the results in Pennsylvania. 

“When you have states like Pennsylvania go from 260,000 mail ballots in 2016 to 2.6 million, “saying, ‘You know what? When you get rid of ID for all mail-in ballots,’ that’s a concern. We should all be concerned about the care, custody, integrity of every ballot,” McDaniel said. 

In the proceeding “Meet the Press” segment, Chuck Todd, who was formerly a longtime host of the program, critiqued the hiring and seemed to speak for a significant number of NBC anchors and reporters. 

“There’s a reason why there are a lot of journalists at NBC News uncomfortable with this, because many of our professional dealings with the RNC over the last six years have been met with gaslighting, have been met with character assassination,” Todd explained. “When NBC made the decision to give her NBC News’ credibility, you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘What does she bring to NBC News?” 

Culture War Dispatch

Last week, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed into law a ban on the use and funding of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs or departments in public education and state agencies. The law also requires “public institutions of higher education to designate restrooms on the basis of biological sex.” 

Alabama schools and government departments have until Oct. 1 to comply with the new law. 

DEI programs, which conservatives have turned into a political hobby horse over the past year, are defined in the bill as “divisive concepts” that can be everything from the idea “that any race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior” to “meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist.” 

To be clear, there is no curriculum and or training in DEI programs that promotes the idea that, despite what some Republicans may believe, white people are inferior to people of color. Nor is the methodology of DEI in conflict with the concept of “hard work.”

In reality, the goal of such laws — which have been introduced into various state and federal legislatures 80 times since the start of 2023, resulting in eight such bills becoming law — is not to protect citizens from “divisive concepts” but to restrict speech and enforce certain, rigid ideological frameworks. Look no further than the controversial “Stop Woke Act” in Florida, which restricted how teachers could discuss the history of racism in the United States. 

And that’s exactly what the free expression advocacy group PEN America warned of before the Alabama bill was signed into law. 

“This new language would prohibit assigning readings of essays, books, or films where the author expresses that they feel complicit in past wrongs because of their identity, or historical documents demonstrating historical perspectives on race, gender, or class,” the organization said in a statement. “The result [will] be a campus environment devoid of intellectual freedom, and a state law so draconian that it gives Florida a run for its money.” 

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Jamie Larson