Scott Brown | Media Matters for America

Scott Brown

Tags ››› Scott Brown
  • A comprehensive list of former Fox employees who have joined the Trump administration

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Over a three-day period in early April, the State Department announced Morgan Ortagus as its new spokesperson, a role previously occupied by Heather Nauert; President Donald Trump said he wanted Herman Cain to fill a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, with Stephen Moore already nominated for a second vacancy; and Politico reported that Treasury Department spokesperson Tony Sayegh is resigning next month and could be replaced by Monica Crowley.

    Ortagus, Nauert, Cain, Moore, Sayegh, and Crowley have something in common: Each has worked for Fox News, the right-wing cable network that has merged with Trump’s White House and now serves as a Trump propaganda outlet.

    Trump has stocked his administration with former Fox employees. Cabinet secretaries overseeing federal departments, senior White House aides advising the president on crucial issues, and U.S. ambassadors representing the country abroad, among others, all worked for the network before joining Trump’s administration.

    Ten current Trump administration officials previously worked at Fox, while six more officials worked at Fox before joining the administration but have since left, and the appointments of two other former Foxers are pending, according to a Media Matters review. (This post was updated May 2 to remove Moore and Cain, who both withdrew from consideration after their nominations received widespread criticism.)

    Current Trump administration officials who used to work at Fox

    Former Trump administration officials who used to work at Fox

    Those are just the ones who actually made the jump to the Trump administration -- several other Fox employees have been connected to various Trump administration jobs but have not received them, while Crowley had been announced for a White House position but withdrew following a plagiarism scandal.

    And the door opens both ways. After leaving her post as White House communications director, Hope Hicks became executive vice president and chief communications officer for Fox’s parent company. Abigail Slater similarly left her White House position advising Trump on technology to become senior vice president for policy and strategy at Fox Corp. Fox also hired former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie and former acting ICE Director Tom Homan for on-air roles, each of whom has since been floated for senior administration roles.

    This hiring pattern speaks in part to Fox’s longtime role as a comfortable landing spot for Republicans looking to get paid and build their brand with the network’s conservative audience while keeping their options open to return to politics or government.

    But the trend is also part Trump’s unprecedented relationship with Fox. The president’s worldview is shaped by the hours of Fox programming he watches each day, with both his public statements and his major decisions often coming in response to what he sees. And so throughout his tenure in the White House, the president has treated Fox employment as an important credential and offered jobs to network employees whose commentary he likes.

    Outside the administration, Trump hired Jay Sekulow to join his legal team because the president liked the way Sekulow defended him on Fox, and he nearly added the similarly credentialed Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing to the group as well. Then there’s Kimberly Guilfoyle, who left her job co-hosting a Fox show and became the vice chairwoman of a pro-Trump super PAC the next week (she is also dating Donald Trump Jr.).

    In addition to the former Fox employees that have moved to the administration or Trumpworld payrolls, Trump also consults with a “Fox News Cabinet” of current network employees. He reportedly speaks frequently with Fox founder Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire has benefited greatly from the network’s fusion with the Trump administration. And Fox hosts including Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro, and Pete Hegseth all reportedly influence Trump not only through their programs, but advise him privately as well.

    This post will be updated as additional former Fox employees join or leave the Trump administration or are nominated for or withdraw from nomination for such positions.

    Current Trump administration officials who used to work at Fox

    • Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development. Carson, formerly a prominent neurosurgeon, became a right-wing media sensation after using a February 2013 speech in front of President Barack Obama to trumpet conservative economics and health care arguments. He joined Fox News as a contributor in October 2013 and left just over a year later to run for president. After Trump’s election, Carson joined his administration as the secretary of housing and urban development. His tenure has been dogged by scandals involving lavish spending for office furniture and other ethics issues, as well as a general failure to carry out his department’s mission.
    • Elaine Chao, secretary of transportation. After a career in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors capped by serving as labor secretary in President George W. Bush’s Cabinet, Chao became a Fox News contributor. She left the network in 2012 and took a seat on the board of directors of News Corp., at the time Fox’s parent company. In 2016, she stepped down from the board after Trump nominated her as secretary of transportation. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); former Fox News contributor Erick Erickson has alleged that he was taken off the air because of his criticism of McConnell at Chao’s behest.
    • John Bolton, national security adviser. Long recognized as one of the most hawkish members of the foreign policy community, Bolton served in the Bush State Department and as ambassador to the United Nations. He joined Fox as a contributor in 2006 and became the network’s go-to voice for national security stories for the next decade, using the platform to push for military options in North Korea and Iran. Those appearances caught the attention of Trump, who said during a 2015 interview, “I watch the shows” for military advice, and that he liked Bolton because “he’s a tough cookie, knows what he’s talking about.” In March 2018, Trump named Bolton as his national security adviser.
    • Mercedes Schlapp, White House director of strategic communications. Before joining the White House in September 2017, Schlapp was a Republican political consultant and a Fox News contributor.
    • Scott Brown, ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. Glowing Fox News coverage helped power Brown to victory in his 2010 run for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. After losing his reelection bid two years later, he joined the network as a contributor, using it as a platform to burnish his profile over the next year while exploring a run for Senate in New Hampshire. He left the network, lost that 2014 race despite the network’s efforts to promote him, and was rehired two weeks later. After Brown endorsed Trump in February 2016, Fox hosts began promoting him for the vice president slot. In August 2016, former Fox host Andrea Tantaros named him in the sexual harassment lawsuit she filed against Fox and several network executives. Trump nonetheless nominated Brown to be ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa in April 2017, and he was confirmed that June. He subsequently faced a State Department inquiry after making inappropriate comments to a female server at an official event.
    • Georgette Mosbacher, ambassador to Poland. Mosbacher, a Republican businesswoman and donor, longtime Trump friend, and a Fox News contributor, was nominated to be ambassador to Poland in February 2018 and confirmed by the Senate that July.
    • Richard Grenell, ambassador to Germany. Grenell, a Republican communications professional who spent seven years as spokesperson for the U.S. delegation to the U.N., joined Fox News as a contributor in 2009 and was still in the network’s employ when he was nominated to be ambassador to Germany in September 2017. He was confirmed in April 2018 “despite objections from Democrats that his past epithets about prominent female politicians made him unfit for the job.”
    • Tony Sayegh, Treasury Department assistant secretary for public affairs. Sayegh, a former Republican communications consultant and Fox contributor, has served as the top spokesperson for the Treasury Department since April 2017.
    • Morgan Ortagus, State Department spokesperson. After working in the Bush and Obama administrations, Ortagus became a Fox contributor, then was named State Department spokesperson in April.
    • Lea Gabrielle, State Department special envoy. In February, the State Department named Gabrielle, a former Fox News reporter, as special envoy and coordinator of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, an agency that counters foreign propaganda and disinformation.

    Former Trump administration officials who used to work at Fox

    • Bill Shine, White House communications director. Shine, a close friend of Hannity’s who once produced his show, rose through the executive ranks at Fox News, eventually becoming network founder Roger Ailes’ right-hand man and then Fox co-president. Shine resigned from Fox in May 2017 after his reported role helping to cover up the network’s culture of sexual harassment became too embarrassing, but he landed a plum White House job as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for communications. Shine left the White House for a role on Trump’s reelection campaign in March 2019. His exit reportedly came in part because Trump “feels he was sold a bill of goods by Hannity,” who had urged the president to hire Shine to improve his press coverage.
    • Heather Nauert, acting undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. Nauert worked at Fox from 1998-2005 and 2007-2017 in a variety of roles. In April 2017, she left her position reading headlines as a news anchor on Fox & Friends, the morning program the president watches religiously, to become spokesperson for the State Department. In March 2018, she was named acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, replacing an official close to Rex Tillerson, who had just been ousted as secretary of state. She was nominated as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in December 2018, triggering stories about her lack of qualifications for the role outside of her Fox News connection. She withdrew from consideration for the post and left the administration in February, reportedly because her nomination was complicated by the fact she had “employed a nanny who was in the United States legally but was not legally allowed to work.”
    • Anthony Scaramucci, White House communications director. Scaramucci, a hedge fund mogul and a former Fox Business contributor and host, spent 10 days as White House communications director before his proclivity for giving expletive-laced interviews and publicly feuding with other White House staffers triggered his removal.
    • K.T. McFarland, deputy national security adviser. After serving in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations and losing a race against then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), McFarland became a Fox national security analyst. She used that position to push for war with Iran, defend the use of torture, and push for the profiling of Muslim Americans. In November 2016, Trump picked her to be deputy national security adviser under Michael Flynn. She served only briefly in that position. Flynn was replaced by H.R. McMaster in February 2017 following the revelation that Flynn had lied to the FBI and Vice President Mike Pence about whether he had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition. McFarland was subsequently offered other opportunities in the administration and nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Singapore, but the nomination stalled over her connection to the Russia investigations -- she had reportedly been in contact with Flynn during his conversations with the Russian ambassador -- and she withdrew in February 2018.
    • Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president. A bombastic, self-proclaimed national security “expert” with dubious credentials, a proclivity for anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, and ties to foreign extremist groups, Gorka made frequent appearances on Fox News during the 2016 presidential campaign and was briefly hired by the network before decamping for the Trump White House. His job was ill-defined, and he apparently did little other than go on television to support the president before he was canned in August 2017. He then returned to Fox News as a full-fledged contributor, albeit one who was reportedly banned from appearing on the network’s “hard news” programming. In March, he left Fox for Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose stations now broadcast his bigotry around the country.
    • John McEntee, personal aide to the president. Fox hired McEntee as a production assistant in 2015. He later served as Trump’s personal aide both during the presidential campaign and in the White House. When McEntee was fired in March 2018, CNN reported that it was “because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes.”
  • Media Figures Adopt Trump’s Spin To Whitewash Ossoff’s Showing In Special Election Primary

    Reports On Ossoff’s Fundraising Ignore Advantage Republicans Have From Outside Spending

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Following the special election primary for a vacant House seat in Georgia, media figures are repeating President Donald Trump’s spin highlighting out-of-state donations that helped Democrat Jon Ossoff. The focus on Ossoff’s fundraising, however, ignores the disproportionate advantage the Republican Party and Republican candidates got from outside groups in the race.

  • Fox News Goes All In On Its Efforts To Be Trump's Shills

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Following Megyn Kelly’s announcement that she will be leaving Fox News for NBC, the network moved quickly to install pro-Trump host Tucker Carlson into her prime-time slot. Fox’s move cements its ongoing audition to serve as Trump’s go-to network for spreading his agenda, which has included the network devoting disproportionate airtime to his candidacy, then-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes advising Trump, and network figures shielding and defending him from negative coverage. Trump also retreated to the network toward the end of the campaign, and since his election he has considered or selected a number of Fox News figures to serve in his administration.

  • Fox News Is Where Hopefuls Are Auditioning For Trump's Cabinet

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox News gave its contributors Pete Hegseth and Scott Brown platforms to publicly audition to be President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of veterans affairs, a position for which they are both reportedly being considered.

    On the December 16 edition of Fox & Friends, Hegseth answered viewers' questions about veterans' issues and explained his vision for the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The hosts openly acknowledged Hegseth’s possible pick as VA secretary, and he acted as if the segment were an audition for the role, answering questions sent to the show, such as, “How will the VA combat corruption and avoid awarding bonuses to executives who do not meet targeted objectives?” and, “What will you do about the corrupt unions that continue to play politics and use intimidation tactics to keep all corruption issues quiet?” In addition to pushing for firing certain VA officials and allowing the use of private doctors, he bragged that the VA union disliked him because “we've been taking them on for years.” Hegseth discussed his meetings with Trump and lauded the president-elect for being “willing to fight back” and said he will be “an amazing president.”

    The same day, Brown appeared on America’s Newsroom, where he also acknowledged he was “in the mix” for the VA position and was asked by co-host Bill Hemmer “what [his] big sales point” was to Trump about why he deserved the position. Brown said he had “political” and “media experience” and pushed for fixing “mismanagement” at the VA. He also praised Trump’s “plain talk” and his “positive” message.

    Hegseth and Brown are reportedly top contenders to be Trump’s VA secretary, and have met with Trump multiple times to discuss the position. According to The New York Times, veterans groups have strongly opposed Hegseth and Brown. The groups told the Times that their opposition to Hegseth stems from his work with “Republican-funded activist groups and think tanks that have portrayed veterans health care as feckless and corrupt,” including the right-wing group Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) where he served as CEO. The group, which is backed by the Koch brothers and supports the privatization of the VA, has been criticized for its “partisan attacks” against Democrats. Hegseth was also criticized by veterans groups for his position that veterans should have “the choice to seek care in the private sector,” which those groups said could “siphon billions of dollars away from veterans hospitals, causing the system to collapse.”

    Joe Chenelly, the executive director of the advocacy group Amvets, told the Times that Brown “lacks the experience to run a nationwide health care and benefits system with 350,000 employees.” Brown, a former Republican senator, has used Fox multiple times previously as a platform to criticize the VA and the Obama administration’s promise to help veterans.

    If picked to head the VA, Hegseth or Brown would join the multiple Fox personalities who have joined or are being considered for the incoming Trump administration.

  • Conservatives Decry A "Politicized" Justice Department, Unless Trump Proposes It

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Many right-wing pundits praised Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s pledge to “instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor” to “jail” Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server, a threat mainstream journalists compared to what “dictators” do in a “banana republic.” Yet conservatives’ support for Trump’s planned abuses of governmental power is particularly hypocritical given that during the FBI and Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into Clinton’s email use, right-wing media claimed the agencies were “politicized” and “corrupt.” It seems that a politicized Justice Department is fine so long as it achieves the right’s political goals.

    During the second presidential debate, Trump warned Clinton, “I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” adding that she “would be in jail” under his administration.

    Trump’s “unprecedented” threat was in line with what “dictators” do in “banana republics,” many journalists noted. CNN’s Dana Bash warned that Trump’s comments parallel the sorts of things “dictators and totalitarian leaders” like “Stalin or Hitler” did.

    Yet conservative pundits cheered Trump’s dangerous attack with alacrity. Fox News host Steve Doocy called the threat “amazing,” Fox contributor Scott Brown cheered the line as a “home run,” and CNN’s Kayleigh McEnany applauded the threat as “a humorous line of retort.” Bill O'Reilly dubbed the attack "the smartest thing [Trump] did all night," and Trump ally and dirty trickster Roger Stone said Trump “scored.”

    Aside from aligning themselves with a pledge hinting at serious abuses of governmental power, the right-wing are highlighting their double standard for the integrity of democratic institutions. Conservatives led a full-throated, but baseless, crusade against the FBI, DOJ, and the White House after FBI Director James Comey recommended that the DOJ not indict Clinton following the investigation related to her use of a private email server.

    Right-wing pundits attacked the FBI and DOJ for their “disregard for the rule of law” and claimed the decision is evidence that “the government is corrupt.” They asserted that the “highly politicized” DOJ is “no longer … an effective, impartial enforcer of the law” and instead is allowing “corruption [to] fester and grow.” Conservatives even attacked President Obama for endorsing Clinton amid the FBI investigation, claiming that his support revealed “a man who sees the Constitution as an impediment to be disregarded.”

    That conservatives attacked the FBI and DOJ for allegedly flouting the law after they failed to deliver the desired result -- a Clinton indictment that would land her in jail -- but openly cheer Trump’s dictatorial threat to jail a political opponent reveals that politics eclipse the law in the right’s quest for power. Though right-wing calls for Clinton to be jailed are not new on the campaign trail, the embrace of Trump’s newest threat has lifted the veil on the right’s hypocrisy in terms of respecting the rule of law.

  • Right-Wing Media Lash Out At Mothers Of The Movement For Speaking At Democratic Convention

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Right-wing media labeled the second night of the Democratic National Convention as an “anti-law enforcement rally” because a group of seven mothers, known as the Mothers of the Movement, were invited to speak about losing their children to gun violence or excessive use of force by police. While right-wing media figures have said that the Democratic Party “shows no respect for law enforcement,” the Pittsburgh Police Chief spoke prior to the mother's’ plea to “seek common ground” between law enforcement and communities, while one of the mothers lauded police, saying, “The majority of police officers are good people doing a good job.”

  • Fox Darling Scott Brown Accuses Elizabeth Warren Of Being “Drunk” After She Blasted Trump’s “Toxic Stew Of Hatred”

    Fox News Has Promoted Brown As A Potential Running Mate For Trump

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News contributor Scott Brown criticized Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for a series of tweets condemning GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, alleging that Warren was “drunk tweeting” and accusing her of being unable to “stand on her own two feet.” Brown, who lost his 2012 Senate race to Sen. Warren and whose political ambitions have long been boosted by Fox News, has been openly pushed by the network as a potential vice presidential running mate for Trump.

    Scott Brown, a former Republican Senator for Massachusetts, was hired by Fox News in 2013 after a failed Senate campaign, and left the network soon thereafter to run for office in New Hampshire. During his 2014 Senate bid, Brown received widespread support and praise from Fox, often with no disclosure of his prior affiliation with the network. Following his Senate loss in 2014, Brown re-joined as a contributor. Fox hosts have regularly hyped Brown, who is still a Fox News contributor, as a potential running mate for Trump during the 2016 presidential primary.

    During a May 4 interview with Boston Herald Radio, Brown criticized his former rival Elizabeth Warren after she took to Twitter to slam Trump’s “toxic stew of hatred & insecurity” and pledged to “fight my heart out” to ensure Trump’s “racism, sexism, and xenophobia” “never reaches the White House.” Brown “lauded Trump and hit back at Warren in harsh terms,” according to Boston.com. Brown asked if Sen. Warren was “drunk tweeting” and slammed her tweets as “irrelevant,” writing, “She had her chance to make a difference … All she does is yell and criticize and demean and belittle people instead of working for the people of Massachusetts”:

    As America began to come to terms with Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren launched into a series of tweets criticizing the businessman’s “toxic stew of hatred and insecurity.”

    A day later, the man she beat to become the U.S. senator from Massachusetts fired back at Warren.

    “Is she drunk tweeting now?” Scott Brown said.

    The comment came in an interview with Boston Herald Radio on Wednesday in which Brown lauded Trump and hit back at Warren in harsh terms.

    “First of all, what she said is completely irrelevant. It doesn’t matter,” Brown said. “She had her chance to make a difference. She hasn’t even bothered to endorse anybody, so it just is a continuation of her phoniness and her inability to make decisions that really have her stand on her own two feet.”

    Brown has addressed questions about his own tweeting in the past. In 2013, the former Republican senator posted a series of misspelled, dismissive tweets on a late night. “bqhatevwr,” he infamously wrote. Critics at the time questioned whether Brown was drunk when he sent the mangled tweet.

    “I rarely drink, the last time I was ever drunk was my bachelor party,” he said at the time, according to the Washington Post.Herald Radio host Jaclyn Cashman on Wednesday agreed with Brown’s questioning of Warren’s drinking habits.

    “I envision her with a glass of Chardonnay in Cambridge,” she said, as Brown laughed. “I guarantee that she was half in the bag tweeting last night.”

    Brown, who endorsed Trump for president, said Warren had not accomplished anything of note in office.

    “All she does is yell and criticize and demean and belittle people instead of working for the people of Massachusetts,” he said. “If it’s the new norm to go down there and yell and scream at people and divide people, she’s doing a great job at that.”

     
  • Fox Figures Turn On Fox Contributor Erick Erickson For Organizing Meeting Aimed At Thwarting Trump

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Multiple current and former Fox News figures criticized fellow Fox contributor Erick Erickson for organizing an "anti-Trump" meeting aimed at finding ways to either deny Trump the Republican nomination or run a third-party candidate, calling Erickson a "Benedict Arnold" and criticizing his tactics as a "suicide mission" against Republicans that could help elect Hillary Clinton.

  • Fox Pushes "Regular Guy" And Contributor Scott Brown For Trump VP

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Fox News contributor Scott Brown's network colleagues are pushing him as a potential running mate for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The network -- where Brown has worked on and off as a contributor -- has been boosting the half-term senator's political ambitions for years. 

    During a January 16 event in New Hampshire where Brown introduced Trump, the business mogul responded to an audience member's suggestion that Brown should be his running mate by replying, "He's central casting! A great guy and a beautiful wife and a great family. So important!" On February 2, Brown officially endorsed Trump for president, calling him "a change agent."

    Since his endorsement, Brown's Fox colleagues have regularly floated him as a potential Trump running mate. For instance:

    • Fox Business host Trish Regan interviewed Brown about him potentially being Trump's vice president. Regan agreed with Trump's assessment that Brown could be a VP candidate out of "central casting." Regan also explained that "what a lot of viewers may not realize about you -- because, you know, when you come on set here you're all spiffy, dressed in your nice suit -- is that you're a pretty regular guy. I mean, you drive a pickup. You work assembling bikes at Gus' Bike Shop in North Hampton." She later asked him, "vice-presidential nominee, potential, would you consider it?" Brown replied he's "flattered" but it's "highly, highly unlikely." [Fox Business, Intelligence Report, 2/3/16]
    • Fox Business host Charles Payne told Brown that people are thinking about him as Trump's running mate and commented, "you look good in that seat." Brown dodged Payne's question about whether he would accept the slot. [Fox Business, Making Money with Charles Payne, 2/3/16
    • Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo asked Brown about the prospects of him being Trump's running mate. Brown dodged the question. [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria, 2/3/16]
    • Fox News host Martha MacCallum asked Trump about whether he was thinking about a running mate and mentioned Brown. Trump replied, "I like Scott Brown because he endorsed me," but said it's too far in advance to think about. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 2/9/16]
    • Neil Cavuto, senior vice president and anchor for Fox News and Fox Business, said when he saw a picture of Trump and Brown together, he thought: "Hey, that could be the ticket right there." [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 2/9/16, via NewsHounds]

    Fox News has spent years trying to further Brown's political career. The channel spent significant time boosting his only successful Senate run in 2010. After he lost his reelection bid in 2012, Brown was hired by Fox News. He then left the network and received major but ultimately unsuccessful help from Fox in his New Hampshire Senate bid. He was rehired by Fox in 2014.