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An August 13 story in The Daily Beast reported that the Trump administration has chosen to waive ethics laws so that newly appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine, who formerly served as co-president of Fox News, can communicate with his former colleagues at Fox. According to The Daily Beast, the administration claims that it is in “the public interest” for both Shine and economic adviser Larry Kudlow (who formerly worked at CNBC), to be “excused from provisions of the law, which seeks to prevent administration officials from advancing the financial interests of relatives or former employers.” The article continued:
“The Administration has an interest in you interacting with Covered Organizations such as Fox News,” wrote White House counsel Don McGahn in a July 13 memo granting an ethics waivers to Shine, a former Fox executive. “[T]he need for your services outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the White House Office’s programs and operations.”
Kudlow, a former CNBC host, received a similar waiver allowing him to communicate with former colleagues.
Including Shine and Kudlow, the White House has granted a total of 20 waivers to provisions of various federal ethics laws and the ethics pledge that President Trump instituted by executive order the week he took office. Federal agencies have granted many more such waivers.
The Trump team’s decision to ignore ethics guidelines in favor of its latest Fox employee-turned-White House aide is entirely in keeping with the administration's history of dismissing ethics guidlines. It's also yet another example of the increasingly close relationship between Fox News and the Trump administration.
Shine has a “professional history steeped in extremism,” and his tenure at Fox was marked by his enabling of widespread sexual abuse at the network, which often included starting smear campaigns against women who made accusations of harassment or pushing them to settle and sign nondisclosure agreements. Shine was also referenced in a racial discrimination and harassment lawsuit while at Fox. The suit claimed that Shine “demonstrated an obsession with race when it comes to discussions with [one of the plaintiffs], including regularly asking him, 'how do Black people react to you' and 'how do you think White viewers look at you?'"
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Media Matters President Angelo Carusone released the following statement following reports that former Fox News co-President Bill Shine, a long-time Roger Ailes acolyte, is expected to be the new White House communications director.
Shine was at the helm of Fox News as it transitioned from being a partisan political operation to a pro-Trump propaganda arm. His biggest credential is that he somehow managed to turn Fox News into something more extreme and disreputable than it was even under Roger Ailes. And to top it off, he facilitated and enabled serial sexual misconduct for years.
To put it bluntly, it’s no surprise that the White House selected someone who has Sean Hannity’s personal seal of approval and who has a professional history steeped in extremism, lies, and enabling sexual misconduct.
Bill Shine resigned from Fox News amid reports that he helped cover up harassment allegations, including against former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. His resignation came just two weeks after Fox News was forced to fire Bill O’Reilly when advertisers boycotted his show because of reports of serial sexual harassment. Shine had been promoted to co-president after Ailes’ ouster in August 2016 over repeated sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits. Shine was also referenced in multiple lawsuits against the network for his “complicity” in enabling a toxic work culture.
Update (7/5): Shine has been officially named as Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications.
Donald Trump is reportedly close to bringing aboard Bill Shine, Sean Hannity’s former producer and the former president of Fox News, as the next White House communications director.
This makes perfect sense.
Shine has been repeatedly implicated in the rampant sexual misconduct at Fox News. He played a similar role inside of Roger Ailes’ Fox News that Michael Cohen played for Donald Trump. As the senior executive vice president at the network, Shine reportedly retaliated against women who reported sexual harassment by then-CEO Roger Ailes and helped participate in covering up the reports that eventually led to Ailes’ ouster.
Former Fox News reporter Rudi Bakhtiar was reportedly fired from the network following her complaint that Brian Wilson, a former Fox News Washington bureau chief, had “made unwanted sexual advances toward her.” Bakhtiar reported the harassment, which Wilson denied, to Shine through her agent in 2007. Even though Shine reportedly promised to investigate, Bakhtiar was fired and eventually settled with the network for $670,000 through mediation after signing a nondisclosure agreement.
Shine reportedly helped Ailes interact with Laurie Luhn, a former Fox booker who eventually reported Ailes for harassment. Luhn had a nervous breakdown after Ailes “psychologically tortured” her. Shine reportedly checked her into hotels in different cities to keep her from reporting her circumstances and started reviewing her outgoing emails. A spokesperson for Shine told reporter Gabriel Sherman, who is now with Vanity Fair, that Shine denied reviewing the emails.
In July 2016, Sherman described how Shine “played an integral role in the cover-up” of Ailes’ reported misconduct. Sherman said that Shine “pushed women into confidential mediation, signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid.”
The New York Times’ Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt reported in 2017 that Shine refused to intervene when it became clear that then-host Bill O’Reilly would air a segment lecturing women about sexual harassment. While Shine was co-president of Fox News, 21st Century Fox reportedly made multiple payments to women who reported that Bill O’Reilly sexually harassed them.
Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes that also named Shine as being complicit in Ailes harassment and “punishing her for raising the issue.”
Shine was also tied a racial discrimination and harassment lawsuit. A group of Black employees at Fox News sued the network for racial discrimination and harassment. The lawsuit explained that Shine "has demonstrated an obsession with race when it comes to discussions with [then-Fox News anchor Kelly] Wright, including regularly asking him, 'how do Black people react to you' and 'how do you think White viewers look at you?'"
Also, Shine is close friends with Sean Hannity, whose now-defunct show Hannity & Colmes he used to produce. When Shine left Fox News, rumors swirled about whether Hannity would invoke a clause in his contract to leave as well.
This should all sound familiar.
Over 20 women have spoken out about Trump engaging in sexual misconduct, including 12 nonconsensual physical encounters. The media has for the most part repeatedly forgotten about them, even though there is audio of Trump bragging about sexual assault. And oh yeah, Sean Hannity and Fox News led the charge to discredit the women in the first place.
Trump’s racism is obvious, and yet it frequently gets papered over. Right-wing media defend it, mainstream outlets dance around it, and everyone just forgets it ever happened as soon as the next news tsunami hits.
So yeah, Bill Shine is a perfect fit for the Trump White House.
Trump bringing in Fox News people is now just a regular thing. It’s commonplace to see Fox host Jeanine Pirro in the Oval Office one day, and hear about host Lou Dobbs phoning in White House meetings the next. Fox & Friends weekend host Pete Hegseth is rumored to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs one week and is being considered for a communications job a few weeks later. Former Fox & Friends anchor Heather Nauert was installed at a top position in the Department of State. Former Fox contributor John Bolton became the national security adviser. Former Fox commentator Mercedes Schlapp is the director of strategic communications at the White House. Former Fox commentator Tony Sayegh is a Treasury Department’s spokesperson. Former Fox commentator Richard Grenell is now ambassador to Germany.
There are also those who didn’t make it: former contributor K.T. McFarland resigned as deputy national security adviser and later withdrew her nomination to become ambassador to Singapore due to controversy over work for disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn; and contributor Monica Crowley was never hired after it was reported that she plagiarized parts of her Ph.D. dissertation. And there’ve been rumors at various times that Trump is considering hiring Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity.
Fox News has spent its entire existence as the mouthpiece of a revanchist, faux-populist oligarchy. Thanks to Donald Trump, that infrastructure is now in the White House.
It took decades and a number of brave women and men speaking out to reveal the full scale of the horrors of Roger Ailes and Bill Shine’s Fox News.
One wonders what we will find in the future about Trump’s White House.
Fox News host Sean Hannity has become a reliable ally for powerful men accused of sexual assault and harassment, regularly using his platform to discredit women who report sexual misconduct and cast doubt on their complaints. Here is a look back on the ways Hannity has attempted to undermine these women and defend the men who have been reported.
Eight women have said Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, a former judge of Alabama Supreme Court, sexually harassed or assaulted them, or had relations with them, when they were teenagers. The Washington Post first reported on November 9 that Leigh Corfman was 14 years old when Moore made sexual advancements toward her, and a number of women have since come forward with similar claims.
Hannity: Many women who report sexual harassment “will lie to make money.” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: “Then you have false allegations that are made, and -- how do you determine? It's ‘He said, she [said].’" [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: “How do you know if it's true? How do we -- what's true? What's not true? How do you ascertain the truth?” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: “We do have Ten Commandments. One of the commandments is ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness.’ We know human beings break, with regularity, the other nine commandments. Did they break this one?” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: “But then also, are there false allegations? And when it's ‘he said, she said’ or whatever, how do you tell the difference?” [Premiere Radio Networks, Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity invoked the Duke Lacrosse team case; Michael Brown, who was shot by a white cop in Ferguson, MO; George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin; and Freddie Gray, who was killed in police custody to suggest there’s a history of accusers lying. [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: The “swamp,” “the sewer,” and the “establishment” are out to get Moore. [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: The Wash. Post “hates anything Republican, anything conservative.” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
In July 2016, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Roger Ailes, the now-deceased former Fox News CEO, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against her when she would not have “a sexual relationship with him.” An additional 25 women also came forward with similar accusations. Reports later detailed startling revelations of Ailes’ attempts to cover up his sexual misconduct by spying on employees and silencing his accusers.
Hannity to Carlson: “Why did you stay after such ‘harassment’ asking for more airtime?” [Twitter, 7/13/16]
Hannity about Carlson: “Why did [Carlson] send handwritten notes with smiley faces asking for more airtime after the ‘alleged’ traumatic incident?” [Twitter, 7/13/16]
Hannity attacked accusations levied by Carlson as coming from a “publicity seeking” attorney. [Twitter, 7/9/16]
Hannity: “Hundreds of woman (sic) at Fox that I talked to” said all allegations against Ailes are “BS.” [Twitter, 7/9/16]
Hannity: “I have spoken to many woman (sic) who work at Fox that have the most amazing stories of how kind Roger is to them.” [Twitter, 7/9/16]
Hannity to Gabriel Sherman who reported on Ailes: “U r an Ailes and Fox stalker.” [Twitter, 7/13/16]
In 2016, at least 20 women accused then-candidate Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, including 12 nonconsensual physical encounters. In October 2016, The Washington Post reported on a video clip in which a hot microphone caught Trump bragging to Billy Bush, then of Access Hollywood, “in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women.”
Hannity shrugged off accusations against Trump, arguing, “King David had 500 concubines for crying out loud!” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/7/16]
Hannity suggested that one of Trump’s accusers may have “welcome[d]” the sexual assault. [Media Matters, 10/13/16]
Hannity mocked one of Trump's accusers: “Donald Trump groped me on a plane. It was all right for the first 15 minutes, but then he went too far.” [Media Matters, 10/14/17]
Hannity on Trump accusers: “Just saying ‘help’ would solve the problem.” [Media Matters, 10/20/17]
Hannity called accusations of sexual assault against Trump “an attempt to neutralize the WikiLeaks revelations,” referring to the stories generated from hacked Democratic emails. [Media Matters, 10/13/16]
On April 1, The New York Times reported that former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, paid out at least $13 million in settlements with five women who said O’Reilly harassed them.
Hannity hosted disgraced former Fox host O’Reilly after he was fired from the network. [Media Matters, 9/25/17]
In 1991, Anita Hill, who worked as a former aide to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his time at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “submitted a confidential statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee alleging that Thomas had sexually harassed her 10 years earlier,” according to CBS News. At least two other women also accused Thomas of sexual assault.
While interviewing Thomas, Hannity referred to his accusers as “those that systematically went about destroying you.” [FoxNews.com, 10/3/07]
Hannity implied that Thomas was “an innocent man” who had had “his reputation destroyed forever.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/10/17]
Hannity has praised Thomas for “giving one of the most powerful defenses” against sexual assault accusations. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/10/17]
In 2011, at least two women reported that Herman Cain, who was at the time a candidate in the Republican presidential primaries, had sexually harased them during his tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
Under a screen graphic that read “Herman hysteria,” Hannity questioned whether the charges were “politically motivated,” and badgered an accuser for “staying in the car” with Cain after she says she was harassed. [Media Matters, 11/11/11]
Hannity sought to discredit accusations against Cain and Justice Clarence Thomas, parroting their characterization of the charges as a “high-tech lynching.” [Politico, 11/10/11]
Hannity on Cain’s press conference denying sexual harassment accusations: “You would think this is going to end it.” [Media Matters 11/9/11]
After Ailes was ousted in August 2016 amid mounting sexual harassment allegations, Fox News promoted Bill Shine to co-president of the network. As senior executive vice president, Shine had reportedly “played an integral role” in covering up sexual harassment claims, including those against Ailes. Shine had a role in pushing “women into confidential mediation [and into] signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid” as well as in establishing a “counter-narrative” to discredit Carlson. He later resigned after reports surfaced that he was cited “in at least four lawsuits” that accused him of ignoring, dismissing, and even concealing sexual harassment allegations against Ailes.
Hannity: “Somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE FNC is trying to get an innocent person fired.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]
Hannity: If Shine is fired, “that’s the total end of the FNC as we know it.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]
Hannity: “#Istandwithshine.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]
O'Reilly has recently used Sean Hannity's platform to continue the attack on women who speak up
Michael Panter, the former partner of a woman who settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly (and signed a nondisclosure agreement), revealed on October 24 that during her employment at the network, someone who he believed was the head of Fox’s human resource or legal department had called her and requested that she speak with O’Reilly about a “sensitive matter.” A few minutes later, according to Panter, O’Reilly called the woman to explain that “a new accuser was suing him for sexual harassment” and asked Panter’s then-partner for any information “we ‘can use against her.’” The information O’Reilly was seeking included anything about “her sex life,” whether she “used illegal drugs,” or her “financial situation and marriage.”
Fox News fired O’Reilly in April after news broke of multiple sexual harassment settlements reached with at least six women over the years. But, in September, he was invited back for a heavily promoted appearance on Sean Hannity’s show, which O’Reilly used to publicize his most recent book. A week before, the increasingly reckless Hannity had invited O’Reilly onto his radio show, where he helped O’Reilly attack and threaten the women who reported him for sexual harassment, as O'Reilly warned his smear attempt was “the first of many that we’re going to have for the American people.”
Panter wrote in his Facebook post that “in essence, the leadership of Fox, including their ‘HR’ head/counsel and O’Reilly, who held my ex’s career in their hands (and whom O’Reilly was also harassing) was demanding information to attack another victim.” This revelation, in addition to the recent report that 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, had renewed O’Reilly’s contract earlier this year, even though the company had knowledge of a sexual harassment settlement O’Reilly had reached with one of his colleagues, is further evidence of what O'Reilly’s recent appearance on the network made clear: Fox was never serious about fixing its toxic culture, and, in fact, went to great lengths to help O’Reilly smear anyone who spoke out against his sexual predation. As is apparent from his post-firing appearances on the network, unaccountability remains. From the October 24 Facebook post:
UPDATE: Mediaite has reported that O'Reilly "plans to commence legal action against" Panter. According to Mediaite, O'Reilly's attorney provided a statement that claimed Panter's Facebook post was "completely contrived, false and defamatory, aimed at hurting Bill O’Reilly and his family."
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Bo Dietl Reportedly Admits Digging Up Dirt On Gretchen Carlson And Andrea Mackris
According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal about the ongoing federal investigation into Fox News, Roger Ailes, who engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment against female Fox News employees and was forced to resign as president and CEO in July 2016, hired private investigator and former Fox contributor Bo Dietl to discredit the sexual harassment allegations made against himself and Bill O’Reilly. Dietl confirmed his involvement in an interview with the Journal.
This revelation comes in the wake of significant ongoing turmoil at the network. Bill Shine, who was promoted to co-president of Fox News after Ailes’ departure, resigned after multiple reports named him as being complicit in burying sexual harassment complaints by helping to coordinate smear campaigns against women who came forward with reports. Shine has been replaced with Suzanne Scott, who was referenced in a racial discrimination lawsuit against the network, and has reportedly participated in Fox’s sexist culture and retaliation efforts against employees who reported sexual harassment. From The Wall Street Journal:
Investigators are also looking at Mr. Ailes’s use of prominent private investigator Bo Dietl to probe the backgrounds of people perceived to be a threat to either Mr. Ailes or the channel, according to people familiar with the situation.
Mr. Dietl said in an interview with the Journal that he was used by Fox News to look into the pasts of Ms. Carlson and Andrea Mackris, a former producer who sued Mr. O’Reilly for harassment in 2004 and received a $9 million settlement from Mr. O’Reilly. Mr. Dietl said he was hired to find information that could discredit the women’s claims.
He said he had an investigator eavesdrop on Ms. Mackris’s conversations at an establishment, in an effort to show she wasn’t under duress from alleged harassment. A lawyer for Ms. Mackris didn’t respond to a call seeking comment.
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Suzanne Scott, who has been named CEO of Fox News and Fox Business, has been referenced in a racial discrimination lawsuit against the network, has reportedly taken part in enforcing the network’s sexist culture, and allegedly assisted in retaliation campaigns against employees who reported sexual harassment.