When Enough Is Enough: The Talent Speaks Up

When Enough Is Enough: The Talent Speaks Up


Leonard Zwelling


By far, my favorite story of the past few weeks (see piece from The New York Times on March 28 by James Poniewozik) is the hiring and then firing of former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel by NBC News.

She was hired on Friday, March 22 and made her first appearance following her hiring on Meet the Press on Sunday, March 24. Apparently, she had already been slated to be a guest on the program before she was hired by the network.

First, why was this hire so controversial? After all, every news network hires ex-politicos of varying political stripes from conservative to liberal. Sure, CNN and MSNBC tend to hire the lefties and Fox hires the righties, but, every once in a while, they’ll throw in a different opinion to promote the illusion of “fair and balanced” news broadcasting. Given that, what’s the big deal about hiring the right-leaning Ms. McDaniel by NBC in an effort to insert some balance into its news programming?

The big deal is that McDaniel was head of the RNC when Donald Trump ran in 2020 for the presidency and she actively promoted the fallacy that he really won the election even going so far as to call “Michigan election officials to ask them to delay certifying the state’s results.”

You see this is the reason that many Democrats are so offended by the fact that Mr. Trump, despite his party’s election losses in 2018, 2020, and 2022, is still the standard bearer for the Republican Party. He tried to overturn an election and surely supported the January 6 riot to do the same. Of course, Republicans are just as offended that Joe Biden, who promised to govern as a centrist, but leaned left, is the Democratic nominee. These two facts are why so many people, me included, don’t know what to do with regard to voting in November. I have a lot of trouble voting for either of these guys.

Now to the backlash.

It occurred immediately on Meet the Press (MTP) where former MTP host Chuck Todd told current host Kristen Welker that her “bosses owe you an apology.” Both Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s Morning Joe blasted the McDaniel hiring by their leaders, and Rachel Maddow said it was like “hiring a mobster to work at a D.A.’s office.”

Surprisingly, the complaints were heard and the leadership of NBC news reversed itself and cancelled Ms. McDaniel’s contract. I have no idea whether or not she got paid any of her reported $300,000 salary.

My point today is only that personnel decisions by leaders can be protested by the people who work for those leaders. It was the outrage displayed and articulated by the various on-air talent at NBC that got Ms. McDaniel canned.

Does that mean that if the faculty of MD Anderson protested the hiring of a vice president, division head, or department chair by the GOVERNING BODY (that’s what Dr. Pisters prefers to call himself now) that the strategy would work there? I doubt it, but the rapid success of the key talent in getting a bad decision overturned at NBC should be a lesson.

If sufficient numbers of the key productive talent at MD Anderson (that would be the faculty) really objected to a leadership hire for objective and clearly demonstrable reasons, sitting on their hands would be no excuse.

In academic medicine, the talent ought to be the leadership and if the leadership isn’t talented, well, whose fault is that? The Board of Regents? The Chancellor? Is anyone accountable and, of so, to whom?

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