Veteran Fox News executive Bill Shine is President Trump’s new right-hand-man for White House communications.
The appointment was announced on Thursday afternoon, shortly before Shine joined Trump on a trip to Montana. Shine’s title is Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications
His move from Fox to the White House further solidifies the backscratching relationship between TV network and Trump’s orbit. But it’s especially eyebrow-raising because Shine resigned last year amid a flurry of sexual harassment allegations within the network.
Shine was a key deputy of powerful Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. When Ailes was accused of sexual harassment by numerous women in 2016, Shine was accused of covering up the alleged misdeeds.
Some of the accounts portrayed Shine as Ailes’ protector and fixer. Shine was named in at least four lawsuits or allegations related to alleged sexual harassment or racial discrimination at the network. He has denied all wrongdoing. And he has never been accused of harassment himself.
The liberal group UltraViolet issued a statement calling Shine’s hiring “disturbing” but “unsurprising.” The group said the “Trump White House has been a revolving door of sexual abusers and their enablers.”
The National Women’s Law Center, another group staunchly critical of Trump, said “the President’s choice runs counter to widespread efforts to address and prevent sexual harassment at this moment of reckoning. This country deserves better.”
When Ailes was forced out of Fox News in July 2016, Shine was initially promoted to co-president. But this turned out to be just a transition period. He resigned in May 2017, in part due to his reputation being tainted from the Ailes scandals.
Shine also had powerful supporters. Shine and Sean Hannity rose up the ranks at Fox News together, and the two men remain close friends. Hannity is now Fox’s biggest star and the president’s biggest booster. CNN previously reported that Hannity pushed the idea of Shine joining the White House behind the scenes.
Shine’s imminent hiring was reported last week. And he was seen at the White House earlier this week. The reports prompted two of Shine’s critics in the right-wing media world to resurface the Ailes-era allegations against Shine.
Newsmax, run by Trump friend Chris Ruddy, published several critical stories. And conservative activist Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch, told The Daily Beast, “I don’t want so see the ghost of Roger Ailes running the White House communications operation.”
Klayman said Shine’s handling of harassment claims needed to be investigated.
Reaction to Shine’s hiring included some negative responses from those who used to work for him or Fox News.
“I say this as someone who was on Fox for a decade and had no beef (though little interaction) with Bill Shine: It’s a disgrace that a man who, it turns out, enabled and covered up truly repulsive behavior by Roger Ailes, would get a senior White House job,” said Bill Kristol, editor at large of The Weekly Standard in a tweet.
And two years to the day former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the network, quoted a story on Twitter and talked about the impact of “giving women a voice, letting them know you can be believed … and say enough is enough.”
One of the president’s sons, Donald Trump, Jr., predicted the criticism in a tweet on Thursday afternoon.
“On your marks, get set…. how long till the liberal media and snowflakes start taking shots at the great Bill Shine? Competent, hard working and a believer in making America great again!” Trump Jr. wrote.
Thursday’s White House statement about the appointment highlighted Shine’s past experience with Fox News.
“[Shine] brings over two decades of television programming, communications, and management experience to the role. Previously, Mr. Shine served as Co-President of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network,” it read.