NOT FAR FROM THE TREE
Hope Hicks Escaped the White House but Not Trumpworld
By landing a top post above Fox News, Hicks is just the latest ex-Trump staffer to land a post-White House gig still firmly within the president’s orbit.
Hope Hicks didn’t stray too far out of her comfort zone for her first post-White House job.
On Monday, the “New Fox” company—which includes pro-Trump outlets Fox News and Fox Business Network, along with Fox Sports and the Fox broadcast network—announced that the former White House communications director will become its chief communications officer.
The position makes Hicks one of the highest-ranking employees in the new company, which is set to spin off from 21st Century Fox when it finalizes its sale to Disney.
Hicks was long publicly seen as one of President Trump’s most loyal staffers before her departure in March. She was one of just a handful of aides who stayed with the president from the beginning of his 2016 campaign through his first year in office.
Hicks’ hiring by Fox is just the latest example of the blurred line and revolving doors between Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and the Trump White House.
Trump now regularly calls Murdoch, the right-leaning media titan who once loathed him, for advice on key issues. The president also consults with Fox News and Fox Business Network hosts like Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro; and occasionally chats with pro-Trump hosts including Tucker Carlson.
In previous administrations, ex-staffers often landed big gigs in disparate parts of the private sector, e.g., Obama aides Jay Carney went to Amazon, Robert Gibbs went to McDonald’s, and David Plouffe went to Uber—but many of Trump’s key former campaign and administrative staff seem unable to stray far from his orbit after leaving the White House.
The only ex-Trump staffer to move to a prominent private-sector role is Josh Raffel, a senior communications aide who worked closely with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who recently landed a gig atop e-cigarette maker Juul’s press shop.
Many key former staffers have simply continued their White House roles by taking jobs as pro-Trump television pundits, paid to explain Trump’s decisions on various networks.
Former staffers communications aide Boris Epshteyn and congressional communications director Kaelan Dorr both joined Trump-friendly local television broadcaster Sinclair Broadcasting, while former legislative affairs director Marc Short and ousted homeland security adviser Tom Bossert are paid to espouse pro-Trump views on CNN and ABC respectively.
Former foreign policy adviser Sebastian Gorka, who was a peripheral adviser during his time in the White House, has become a Trump favorite from his perch as a paid contributor on Fox News.
Same with Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, David Bossie, who was briefly suspended by Fox News for telling a black liberal on-air pundit that he was “out of your cotton-picking mind.”
Other ex-staffers have remained in Trump’s political orbit more directly.
Ex-press secretary Sean Spicer and former deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh both decamped from the White House and settled at the Trump-aligned PAC America First Policies. Top adviser Steve Bannon and deputy strategist Andrew Surabian have been backing insurgent candidates who they view as more in line with Trump’s right-wing populist vision than other traditional Republicans.
On the other side of this revolving door, Team Trump often seems to recruit staff directly from Fox News. The president’s current White House communications director Bill Shine was previously a top executive at Fox News, often seen as henchman to the late Roger Ailes (with whom Trump often consulted as well).
Former Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle, who long sought a Trump press secretary gig, recently joined America First Policies, a pro-Trump PAC, to campaign for Republican candidates with her boyfriend, Donald Trump Jr.
Other Trump-friendly hosts like Pete Hegseth and Laura Ingraham have been openly floated for possible White House roles.
Though she largely remained out of the limelight during her time in the White House and Trump campaign, Hicks departed the administration earlier this year in the weeks after staff secretary Rob Porter, whom she was dating, was accused of domestic abuse by two of his ex-wives and ultimately resigned from his post.
While she ruled out rejoining the White House, Hicks has remained close to Trump.
In June, the former communications director was spotted boarding Air Force One en route to a rally, and the two have reportedly spoken by phone at least twice since her departure.