UPDATED with reaction from watchdog group Media Matters
Fox has named former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks as its chief communications officer, in a move that underscores its closeness with the Trump Administration. Hicks will lead communications for “New” Fox, a media company whose assets include Fox broadcasting and Fox News, following the pending sale of 21st Century Fox to the Walt Disney Co.
The former model joined Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was considered one of his most trusted advisors, with broad access to the Oval Office. She resigned from the administration in February, after she admitted to telling white lies in her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.
As Hicks resigned, expressing gratitude to Trump, he heaped praise on her, saying she was “as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person. I will miss having her by my side.”
Viet Dinh, Fox’s chief legal and policy officer, lauded Hicks for coordinating the administration’s communications strategy and leading a team that coordinated messaging on economic issues, domestic policies and international affairs. She succeeds Julie Henderson, who informed the company earlier this year that she would not transition to New Fox.
Dinh announced her appointment Monday, along with that of Danny O’Brien, a former senior government affairs and policy executive from General Electric, who will become Fox’s EVP and head of government relations. O’Brien served as Joe Biden’s chief of staff during a portion of his tenure in the Senate.
“Hope and Danny are proven leaders and world-class public affairs professionals,” Dinh said in a message to staff. “Together they will define and project Fox’s voice to our relevant communities.”
Hicks’ appointment is another example of the coziness between Fox and the Trump Administration. Earlier this summer, Bill Shine, the former co-president of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, joined the White House staff as deputy chief of staff for communications.
Fox News was the administration-friendly platform where Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, addressed allegations of sexual misconduct from high school and college in a rare interview in the midst of the confirmation process.
It’s not unusual for communications executive, trained in the crucible of Washington, D.C., to land jobs in Hollywood. Former Clinton White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers now serves as executive vice president of corporate communications for Warner Bros. Entertainment. James E. Kennedy, former deputy assistant to President Clinton and former deputy press secretary for Vice President Al Gore, heads corporate communications at News Corp.
But Hicks’ elevation nonetheless drew criticism from media watchdog Media Matters for America, which interpreted the news as a a sign that Fox would more closely align with Trump’s communications apparatus as a partisan megaphone for the administration.
“Hope Hicks taking a c-suite position at Fox is another reminder that Fox is not a news network, but rather a partisan propaganda operation dedicated to serving Trump’s interests — and that operation is gearing up for 2020,” said Media Matters President Angelo Carusone.