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Ronna McDaniel, tied up by her Trump lies, drowns in an aquarium of her own making

former US President Donald Trump RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel fundraising breakfast New York
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

McDaniel, hired and quickly fired by NBC, couldn't work any magic tricks to fit in.

Sorcerer Ronna McDaniel is no David Copperfield.

She bit the hand she was feeding, and when she needed it, it was anything but a helping hand.

After 35 years in public relations, including six on Capitol Hill as a press secretary, I can safely say that I’ve dealt with over 1,000 members of the media during my career. Being a spokesperson reminded me sometimes of being David Copperfield trying to squirm his way out of an aquarium while tied up in knots.

What I mean by that is you must be a magician. First, every word out of your mouth, as a spokesperson to the media, must be parsed. Every communication, just so. A careful balance of satisfying the media’s curiosity, bolstering the company, person, or brand’s image, eyeing the stock price if it’s a public company, and assuaging the fears of the C suite who are loath to trust the media.

On the Hill, I had my share of escapes when the member who I worked for and I revere to this day had some rather thorny issues. Then later, in retail, with toy and product recalls, in-store shootings and crimes, #MeToo incidents, the firing of a CEO, among other things. The biggest lesson I learned was to always tell the truth. Didn’t mean I always had to tell the whole truth — just say enough to answer the question at hand. And there was nothing wrong with silence — don’t talk too much.

I also learned to never underestimate the intelligence of the media – they may know more than you do. And to never, never treat them poorly. There were many times during my career when reporters were way over the line, rude, or simply “didn’t get it,” and when they were dead wrong.

But I always bit my tongue. You never know when you might need their help, so it was a game of don’t bite the hand that you’re feeding, because it could end up a helping hand down the road when you need them to tell your side of the story.

Now here we are with the severed hand of Ronna McDaniel, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, who just signed on and then was abruptly fired as an NBC News political analyst. Oh, Ronna, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

Before her in and out at NBC, she had a less than savory stint as a Republican mouthpiece, and as a result, she caused a furor within a network that has spawned luminaries like John Chancellor, David Brinkley, and Tom Brokaw. NBC and MSNBC reporters, hosts, and other political analysts vowed to chew off NBC’s hands if it didn’t hand McDaniel a pink slip ASAP. It did, and the only hand NBC missing is the one that likely handed McDaniel a massive payout to get her out the door.

NBC’s gaggle of journalists ganged up on the galling McDaniel, who pooh-poohed a free press, denied an election, egged on an autocrat, and defended a misogynist, racist, homophobic, twice-impeached former president with 88 criminal charges pending against him.

You might say it would take a magician and a real escape artist to defend and advocate for someone like that; however, that wouldn’t be true. McDaniel was more of a sorcerer helping a wicked witch brew a poisonous stew.

While McDaniel’s former cohorts and similar sorcerers are filling the chairs at Fox News and Newsmax, McDaniel, a niece of U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the party standard-bearer way, way, way back in 2012, opted to go to the “liberal, lying, fake news” side of the media. Her ascension, which turned into a descension, was shocking, and utterly dumbfounding. What was NBC thinking?

The main reason it defies logic is McDaniel has no constituency. Donald Trump booted her from the RNC because he didn’t trust her, so ipso facto, neither does his base. Democrats lost trust in her as soon as she started becoming a mouthpiece for the new, Trump version of the Republican Party. Independents have no idea who she is, and political junkies of the blue persuasion are known to frequent the liberal shows of MSNBC.

Like the squirt gun that ejected jelly, McDaniel was a misfit for NBC, and her only option now is to be on an island all to herself. Hell hath no fury like a Trump acolyte scorned.

She has been frozen out from the very reporters she railed against, lied to, schemed against, and manipulated. They have no desire to associate with her. What did NBC recruiting executives think was going to happen? That their fleet of journalists would hold a Trump rally as her welcoming party?

If you are a woman, a Black person, or an LGBTQ+ individual working for NBC, you had every right to make a beeline to human resources and level the threat, “Either she goes, or I go.” In this instance, she went, along with the hate she perpetrated.

Let’s take a minute to touch on how our community feels about McDaniel. She proudly announced the formation of the RNC Pride Coalition to liaison with the moronic and minuscule queer wing of Trump’s Republican Party. That, in and of itself, was a lie. A dog and pony show. Smoke and mirrors. McDaniel and her minions had no desire to court the queers.

The Trump Republican Party is a band of homophobic hissy fitters. They screamed protests about McDaniel’s coalition far and wide. They wanted her head on a platter. They had no room for “queers” — used as a slur from their POV — in Trump’s hateful harem. So what did McDaniel do in response to their protestations? She backed away from the Pride initiative, and get this, she apologized!

She did so many other revolting things that when she was kicked off her GOP throne, she became persona non grata everywhere, not just at NBC — imagine how hard that is to do. She might be eligible to be her uncle’s home health aide after he retires, but I suspect even he wouldn’t trust her to give him a sponge bath.

After 35 years, I left my role as a spokesperson and came here to The Advocate. So, in a way, I did what McDaniel tried to do; however, there’s a huge difference between her crossing over. I don’t think I need to explain what that is. I left with a stellar reputation and kick-ass résumé. I kept true to my word about never intentionally crossing the media. I know how important that is now that I’m one of them.

Let’s say The Advocate — in a moment of sheer and utter lunacy — brought on out former diplomat and Trump aide Richard Grenell as a fellow columnist. First, how would you, the reader, feel about that? I would hope that you’d feel disrespected, given Grenell’s history of pro-Trump-phoria and his hypocrisy toward our community.

Then, imagine how I and my colleagues would feel about Grenell’s presence. Now you can imagine what it felt like to work for NBC for a couple of days this week.

McDaniel, as a pundit, was never going to work with NBC. She drowned in an aquarium of her own making, tied up by the yarns she vomited as Trump’s suffocating mouthpiece. A David Copperfield she is not.

John Casey is a senior editor at The Advocate.

Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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John Casey

John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.
John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.