An anti-sexism group is slamming the Trump administration over news that a former Fox News executive—a man ousted over his handling of sexual harassment allegations at the network—appears poised to take over as White House communications director.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Bill Shine, a former Fox co-president who was forced out last May, is expected to be named to the post formerly held by Hope Hicks.
Shine was close to Roger E. Ailes, the former network chief who lost the top job amid a rash of sexual harassment allegations leading to settlement payouts reaching $45 million. Ailes, a Trump advisor who died last year, provided the presidential campaign with billions in unpaid advertising during the 2016 election.
People familiar with the White House decision told the New York Times that Trump had met with Shine in recent weeks. They said the president had offered him the job, but the appointment had not been finalized.
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“Since taking office, the Trump White House has been a revolving door of sexual abusers and their enablers—and Shine would be just the latest perpetrator added to those ranks,” said Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of the anti-sexism and pro-equality group UltraViolet.
She called the pick an unsurprising move for the Trump White House.
For more than a decade, Fox News quietly paid settlements totaling millions to quash a series of allegations of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior against Bill O’Reilly, as the New York Times reported. Shine reportedly tried to keep O’Reilly on despite the allegations against the station’s star host.
Shine “created and fostered a toxic work environment at the network, and actively retaliated against women who reported their abuse,” Thomas said in a statement.
White House officials said they expect blowback from the appointment, but told the New York Times they believe they can weather it.
UltraViolet accused Shine last year of providing “cover” for “serial sexual abusers,” such as Ailes and Bill O’Reilly.
The appointment would further link the Trump administration to the president’s favorite news channel.
Fox News contributor John Bolton was appointed National Security Advisor in April. The president has reportedly cast Fox talk show host Sean Hannity in the role of unofficial chief of staff. And the channel’s ties extend to Trump’s children, with Politico reporting that Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle is dating the president’s son, Don Jr., who is separated from his wife.