Moaning Ronna & the Half-News Network.

Steve Villano
6 min readMar 28, 2024


(Moaning Myrtle image from

Moaning Ronna McDaniel, flushed down the toilet pipes at 30 Rock, lasted half as long as a “paid” NBC political commentator than Anthony Scaramucci did as White House Communications Director under Donald Trump.

When it comes to hiring decisions, and trying to use them to buy unbridled access, bigger audiences and more moolah, neither NBC, nor DJT ever learn. They consistently make terrible decisions because they have terrible reasons for their colossal screw-ups.

What got lost in the uproar over Moaning Ronna at NBC, was that we’ve seen this same old re-run before and before and before, at the corporate media House that “Truth” never even attempted to build. It’s all part of the same, endless, cynical sideshow of selling the news as entertainment, and entertainment as, well, excrement.

Precisely twenty years after a couple of egomanical media moguls named Jeff Zucker and Mark Burnett transformed the serial failure, fraud, philanderer, and mobster-wannabe — Donald J. Trump — into their imaginary model of a “successful businessman,” launching Trump’s deranged political career, their old network was nostalgic for that familiar feeling of conspicuous corporate failure.

At that time, NBC’s management transformed Trump into a global celebrity, forking over some $216 million to him for 14 seasons of “The Apprentice.” And, it was NBC Entertainment “reporter,” Billy Bush to whom Trumped bragged about, on tape, of “grabbing them by the pussy.” So easy. So entertaining. Such garbage.

This time, it was NBC Universal’s News Group Chairman Cesar Conde’s turn, a former White House Fellow in the Republican Administration of George W. Bush, who was was forced to fire Ronna right away, when a bi-partisan line-up of some of the Network’s biggest on-air talents went public with their Ronna-rage.

In an email to all NBC staff reported on by Reuters and in The Signorile Report, Conde announced the he was getting rid of Ronna, but that he was “committed to the principle that we must have diverse viewpoints on our programswe will redouble our efforts to seek voices that represent different parts of the political spectrum.”

Not even Duolingo could speak out of as many sides of its mouth as Conde, who, as the first Latino to lead a major American news organization, launched the “50 Percent Challenge,” to promote newsroom diversity. During Ronna’s run at the RNC, the Republican Party, led by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, made ending all DEI programs — Diversity, Equity & Inclusion — in both the public and private sectors, their culture-war target. Had Conde suddenly forgotten his life-long commitment to promoting diversity, in order to give airtime to a political operative who devoted her last four years to ending it?

What precisely was Conde aiming for with “diverse viewpoints” or “different parts of the political spectrum?” Didn’t this sound a lot like Trump’s “fine people on both sides,” after Charlottesville, especially since Ronna had merely winked at Trump’s most racist comments, like his use of the term “vermin” and “animals” to describe new immigrants? Since Ronna regularly regurgitated Trump’s oft-repeated lies of “caravans” of immigrants storming our Southern border? Was Conde looking to add a prominent enabler of a racist, recidivist liar, of a convicted fraud and sex abuser, to the NBC/MSNBC “political spectrum?”

Or, possibly far worse, as Michelangelo Signorile wrote in The Signorile Report:

“What Conde’s really talking about is seeking Trump-supporting pundits — MAGA. But that’s simply not compatible with the mission of journalism, which is to represent the truth. And it’s certainly not compatible with defending democracy. You can’t have election deniers and people who supported — much less engaged in — a coup against this country as paid contributors”

Those were the very same arguments eloquently made by an array of NBC on-air talent from Chuck Todd to Rachel Maddow, and from two of MSNBC’s more well-known Republican “news” people, former GOP Congressman Chuck Scarborough, and Conde’s own colleague from the Bush Administration, Nicole Wallace. Wallace, it should be noted, as Director of Communications, was neck deep in the Bush re-election campaign of 2004, when Karl Rove was the “architect” of a vile nationwide campaign of hate against the LGBTQ community.

And, ironically, MSNBC — whose President Rashida Jones was silent when Conde, her boss, was rushing Ronna to the Green Room — had just recently given another former National Republican Party Chair, Michael Steele, a show of his own on weekend mornings, pairing him up with former Democratic political operative Symone Sanders-Townshend. Outside of Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd, where were the journalists here? Is Journalism even a profession anymore, or just a procession of recycled politicians and political hacks?

In the aftermath of several years of network sanitized hate speech; a violent attempt to overthrow the U.S. government; concrete evidence that the new political party of Trump, Manafort, Stone, and Ronna McDaniel collaborated with the Russians against American national security interests; specific steps taken in several States to violate State Election laws, and undermine people’s faith in American democracy, where was any sense of news judgment or respect for the First Amendment coming from anyone in a decision making capacity at NBC? Did the last 8 years not happen, as the Trump gang wants us to believe? Was Rudy right? Is “truth” really not truth?

This was not the same old GOP (it was never benign) that Conde had cut his teeth on, nor the Republican Party of Nicole Wallace, Michael Steele, or any other person on NBC’s payroll. This entity, had descended into a criminal cult, built on fear-mongering, kleptocracy, personal threats, and sometimes physical violence, against local election and law enforcement officials, with no respect for the Rule of Law or any other American institutions of government. This was Donald Trump’s party, and Ronna McDaniel was simply permitted to cheerlead, and put up the decorations for it. How could anyone in the news businesses, especially the head of NBC’s News Division, not see this? And if he couldn’t, how could the public possibly be expected to?

Sure, after Rachel Maddow excoriated NBC Management, and built a meticulous case of how Ronna’s GOP handed Trump the high-powered vehicle of a major political institution to deliver Fascism to America, she patted the NBC decision-makers on their backs, when they had the “courage” to reverse themselves.

Et tu, Rachel? Did you really come to praise this Cesar and not bury him? Why are you letting these decision-making douche-bags off the hook so easily?

They failed, big time, yet again, without seeking out any input from the working journalists who have covered Donald Trump and the GOP for the past 8 years. Many of those legitimate journalists, like Katy Tur, even wrote books about how Trump and his many enablers and blind followers have put our democracy at grave risk.

Now, all of a sudden, NBC’s executives have “courage”, because they made a decision which was catastrophic for the network, the news organization, and honest journalism — if it even still exists — and then, when things got too hot, and the cost to the company becomes far too great, you’re giving them “courage” badges for cleaning up the mess they created? Really? Am I hearing you right, Rachel?

What ever happened to accountability? To consequences? To process? Aren’t leaders of such pillars of democracy supposed to take these things into consideration before they make such disasterous decisions? Isn’t that what responsible leadership does?

Is it enough for Jeff Zucker and Mark Burnett to apologize to everyone in the U.S. and the free world now, 20 years too late, for fueling Trump’s rise to power for their own fun, profit and self-aggrandizement? Is it enough to say, “sorry, we screwed democracy and human rights for entertainment and profit, but we just couldn’t resist?”

If you believe Cesar Conde’s carefully crafted mea culpa is enough to earn him a “profile in courage” award, then we are in far, far deeper danger than any boiler-plate political opinion or MAGA cheer from Moaning Ronna would have wrought.