Former WH Communications Director Hope Hicks Lands Job At Fox

20 hours ago
Originally published on October 10, 2018 2:33 pm
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A former top aide to President Trump is headed to work for the president's chief media ally, the Murdoch family. Hope Hicks has been named executive vice president and chief communications officer at what will simply be called Fox, the Murdoch's new, slimmed-down media empire that includes Fox News. As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, the appointment underscores the close ties between the Trump White House, the Murdochs and Fox News.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Hope Hicks is a former model and associate at a New York City PR firm who went to work for Ivanka Trump's fashion line and The Trump Organization. Soon after, Hicks found herself pulled into Trump's presidential race. Here's then-President-elect Donald Trump addressing a rally in Alabama in December 2016.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: She used to be in my real estate company. I said, what do you know about politics? She said, absolutely nothing. I say, congratulations, you're into the world of politics, right? She knew nothing.

FOLKENFLIK: Trump then coaxed her onstage.

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HOPE HICKS: Hi. Merry Christmas, everyone. And thank you, Donald Trump.

FOLKENFLIK: You've probably never heard her voice before now. I certainly hadn't until dipping into the archives for this story. In January 2017, Hicks spoke for a Forbes video project focusing on young, rising stars. Hicks said she was proud Trump had put so much trust in her.

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HICKS: I knew very little about politics. Obviously I wasn't expecting to take part in this and certainly not to play the role that I had.

FOLKENFLIK: Her ascent has been breathtaking. Hicks is still several weeks shy of her 30th birthday. At Fox, Hicks will have to navigate corporate concerns, investor inquiries and family dynamics, familiar themes for those who follow the Trumps. The new Fox corporation will include the Fox Broadcast Network, a couple dozen TV stations, its sports properties and Fox News and the Fox Business Network after the Murdochs complete their sale of much of 21st Century Fox's entertainment holdings to Disney next year.

Fox is to be led by Rupert Murdoch's son, Lachlan. Many have taken his appointment of Hicks as an effort to strengthen ties with the Trump White House. But the bonds could hardly be closer. I mean, former Fox News co-president Bill Shine is now communications director for the White House. He's heard here jousting with reporters.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What word would you use?

BILL SHINE: When you ask her if we ever use the word ban, then I will answer that question.

FOLKENFLIK: Inside the Fox corporation, there's little concern Hicks would interfere in Fox News or its coverage to favor the president. Even if she wanted to, there's no need. Morning to night, the Fox News channel is already among the embattled president's greatest defenders. Here's a typical Jeanine Pirro interview of Trump, which aired on Saturday.

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JEANINE PIRRO: Mr. President, you have a very uncanny instinct. You have a gut sense of things, and you were very disciplined.

FOLKENFLIK: I spoke to several White House reporters about Hicks today. They say they consider Hicks an honest broker who works hard and remains totally loyal to Trump while recognizing his flaws. Her departure from the White House over the summer made unwelcome headlines - this from NBC News.

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HALLIE JACKSON: Word of her departure comes less than 24 hours after she appeared on Capitol Hill to testify about the Russia investigation, apparently acknowledging she's occasionally told white lies as part of her job.

FOLKENFLIK: Hicks said she had not lied about the question of interactions between Trump associates and the Russians. She had reportedly helped a former senior Trump aide craft denials to claims by two of his ex-wives that he had been physically abusive. It emerged Hicks was dating him - another unexpected way the publicity-shy Hicks has made headlines, the kind she hopes to avoid in her new publicity job in Los Angeles. David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.