The Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, another conservative Never Trumper, used to appear on the network, but wouldn’t do so now. “Fox was begun as a good-faith effort to counter bias, but it’s morphed into something that is not even news,” she says. “It’s simply a mouthpiece for the President, repeating what the President says, no matter how false or contradictory.” The feedback loop is so strong, she notes, that Trump “will even pick up an error made by Fox,” as when he promoted on Twitter a bogus Fox story claiming that South Africa was “seizing land from white farmers.” Rubin told me, “It’s funny that Bill Shine went over to the White House. He could have stayed in his old job. The only difference is payroll.”
With Shine, the Fox and White House payrolls actually do overlap. The Hollywood Reporter obtained financial-disclosure formsrevealing that Fox has been paying Shine millions of dollars since he joined the Administration. Last year, he collected the first half of a seven-million-dollar bonus that he was owed after resigning from Fox; this year, he will collect the remainder. That sum is in addition to an $8.4-million severance payment that he received upon leaving the network. In December, four Democratic senators sent a letter to the White House counsel’s office, demanding proof that Fox’s payments to Shine don’t violate federal ethics and conflict-of-interest statutes.
Shine is only the most recent Fox News alumnus to join the Trump Administration. Among others, Trump appointed the former Fox contributor Ben Carson to be his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the former Fox commentator John Bolton to be his national-security adviser, and the former Fox commentator K. T. McFarland to be his deputy national-security adviser. (McFarland resigned after four months.) Trump recently picked the former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert to be the Ambassador to the United Nations, but she soon withdrew herself from consideration, reportedly because her nanny, an immigrant, lacked a work permit. The White House door swings both ways: Hope Hicks, Shine’s predecessor in the communications job, is now the top public-relations officer at 21st Century Fox. Several others who have left the Trump White House, including Sebastian Gorka, a former adviser on national security, regularly appear on Fox. Gorka recently insisted, on Fox Business, that one of Trump’s biggest setbacks—retreating from the shutdown without securing border-wall funds—was actually a “masterstroke.”
Other former Fox News celebrities have practically become part of the Trump family. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former co-host of “The Five,” left Fox in July; she is now working on Trump’s reëlection campaign and dating Donald Trump, Jr. (Guilfoyle left the network mid-contract, after a former Fox employee threatened to sue the network for harassment and accused Guilfoyle of sharing lewd images, among other misconduct; Fox and the former employee reached a multimillion-dollar settlement. A lawyer who represents Guilfoyle said that “any suggestion” that she “engaged in misconduct at Fox is patently false.”) Pete Hegseth and Lou Dobbs, hosts on Fox Business, have each been patched into Oval Office meetings, by speakerphone, to offer policy advice. Sean Hannity has told colleagues that he speaks to the President virtually every night, after his show ends, at 10 p.m. According to the Washington Post, White House advisers have taken to calling Hannity the Shadow Chief of Staff. A Republican political expert who has a paid contract with Fox News told me that Hannity has essentially become a “West Wing adviser,” attributing this development, in part, to the “utter breakdown of any normal decision-making in the White House.” The expert added, “The place has gone off the rails. There is no ordinary policy-development system.” As a result, he said, Fox’s on-air personalities “are filling the vacuum.”…..