What the hell is wrong with Hope Hicks?
The White House communications director spent at least part of this taxpayer-funded week on the job helping draft a fawning statement in defense of her boyfriend on behalf of her boss. The boyfriend, White House staff secretary Rob Porter, was accused of abusing both of his ex-wives. Hicks’ boss is White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a former general who, despite months ago spending some of his taxpayer-funded time pontificating to the press corps on how women used to be “sacred,” reportedly knew about the alleged spousal abuse for months and signed off on the statement anyway.
Kelly and others even encouraged Porter to “stay and fight” the charges, the worst possible choice of words one could use in defending a domestic abuser. According to former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, the White House also attempted to frame Lewandowski for the leak that led to Porter’s resignation.
What the hell is wrong with the White House? What the hell is wrong with John Kelly? And last but certainly not least: Why the hell is Hope Hicks getting off easy?
This is not the first time Hicks has carried water for a man accused of hurting women. From her boss, the president, accused of sexual misconduct by 19 women, to rumored former boyfriend-turned-framee Lewandowski—caught on video grabbing then-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields—to Porter, Hicks has kept her head down and professionally defended the alleged abuse of men for much of her post-collegiate twenties.
Hicks has been wearing out her good faith since she stepped into the public eye. Since Donald Trump glided down that Trump Tower escalator in June 2015, the press has harped on the weirdos and wackos he’s surrounded himself with. But the media found its narrative counterweight in Hicks.
Hicks went from lowly PR flak for Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand to Trump campaign communications maven to White House communications director, all before she turned 30.
In all the ways Trump and his acolytes were brash, Hicks was understated. He was a barging, greased-up bull in a china shop. She was a cool Connecticut lacrosse player, effortlessly rich and glamorous, as quiet as he was loud. She kept her head down. She was professional.
Hicks had a more defined job in the White House than “first daughter” Ivanka, who inspires the professional confidence of an obvious mannequin that has come to life and found itself in the Situation Room. Hicks’ position allowed her to be more behind-the-scenes than White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and thus avoid some of the scrutiny thrown her way. Hicks was less nakedly attention-seeking than Kellyanne Conway, who often didn’t appear to have any aim beyond her primal desire to sass cable-news anchors.
But despite her more palatable branding, Hicks doesn’t deserve the gentle handling she’s gotten thus far, because she’s used her below-the-radar status to fight for the worst kind of people. And she certainly doesn’t deserve to be able to keep her head down and avoid the blowback from the fallout from how she tried to protect her boyfriend’s reputation during his exit from the White House.
Apart from being Porter’s girlfriend, Hicks is the White House communications director. And the White House’s handling of the resignation of Porter should bring all of Hicks’ publicly ascribed qualities into question. No matter how dedicated and efficient the White House communications director is, the White House’s wagon-circling around Porter paints Hicks as unprofessional, unethical, and unfit.
To paraphrase a cliché, there’s a special place in hell for women who choose to use what limited power they have to protect men who hurt women. And Hicks has devoted much of her professional life to doing just that.