Bill Shine, former Fox executive and current Trump communications director, wants to change White House ethics rules so he can have back-channel chats with his old Fox cronies.
The Trump White House has waived long-standing ethical guidelines on personal and business relationships — claiming that it's "in the public interest" for a senior Trump official to have back-channel communications with Fox News.
That official is Bill Shine, the disgraced former co-president of Fox News who allegedly enabled serial sexual harassment at the network. Shine joined Trump's troubled staff as communications director in July.
"The Administration has an interest in you interacting with Covered Organizations such as Fox News,” White House counsel Don McGahn wrote to Shine in a July 13 memo granting an ethics waiver, the Daily Beast reports.
McGahn also allowed Larry Kudlow, a former CNBC pundit who is now Trump's economic adviser, to meet with his former colleagues at the business cable network.
The ethics guidelines in question were originally designed to "to prevent administration officials from advancing the financial interests of relatives or former employers," the Daily Beast notes.
Allowing Shine to meet with his former colleagues only reinforces the impression that the White House now dictates Fox News programming, and that Fox News has become more like a state-run propaganda outlet than a real news network.
Much has been written about the bizarre feedback loop between Trump and Fox News, especially "Fox & Friends," Trump's favorite show.
Fox News regularly devotes most of its programming hours to propping up the White House, attacking Trump's critics, and minimizing or ignoring major news stories that damage Trump.
In June of this year, Fox devoted more air time to Hillary Clinton's emails than to the Trump administration's cruel policy of ripping immigrant children from their parents and throwing them in cages.
The Trump administration has also been quite open about co-opting unscrupulous conservative media outlets and using them to spread misinformation and propaganda.
Just last week, Fox News host Sean Hannity handed over control of his syndicated radio show for an afternoon to Trump attorneys Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani.
The two Trump lawyers alternated between yukking it up with inane banter, to outright denigrating special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation as "illegitimate," a "witch hunt," and a "hoax."
Even some conservative commentators were shocked by how blatantly the radio booking blurred the lines between the White House and right-wing media outlets.
"That was extraordinary. I had to do a double take when I saw that first reported," Town Hall political editor Guy Benson said over the weekend. "Having the Trump… legal team guest host your radio show is a new level of coziness, I guess."
"Coziness" doesn't even begin to describe it.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.