As former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert was selected by President Donald Trump to replace Nikki Haley as the United States ambassador to the United Nations, many liberals are crying foul over the “Foxification” of the White House, despite the fact that Barack Obama hired 23 people from media organizations favorable to him.
Trump’s Fox News hires pale in comparison to Obama’s overall media hires
A number of former Fox News employees are now members of the Trump Administration, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, Joseph E. diGenova (Trump’s legal team), Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp, former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for the Treasury Tony Sayegh, communications advisor Bill Shine, and now Heather Nauert.
It’s likely Trump would’ve hired conservatives from other networks too – except the only conservative mainstream news network is Fox. Larry Kudlow is the only conservative TV personality hired from a network other than Fox (in his case, CNBC).
Trump’s handful of Fox hires is controversial among liberals, as former contributors to their most-hated news outlet are now helping run the country. The Washington Post called it the “Foxification of the White House,” and released the following infographic showing all the former Fox News members who have joined the Trump White House, and former White House members who have since joined Fox.
Obama’s journalist hires
Context is clearly needed here. Is Trump’s hiring of half a dozen people from Fox News unprecedented? If we’re to compare Trump’s behavior to Obama’s, not at all. Obama hired over 20 journalists for positions in his administration. Ironically, it was The Washington Post that ran a feature story on this phenomenon in 2013. Their story included the following examples:
- U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power (U.S. News, the Boston Globe, the New Republic).
- Desson Thomson, a former Washington Post movie critic and Clinton speechwriter.
- Glen Johnson (Boston Globe editor).
- Douglas Frantz (Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the Washington Post).
- Press Secretary Jay Carney (TIME Magazine).
- State Department undersecretary Richard Stengal (TIME Magazine managing editor).
While The Washington Post noted that it’s common for presidents to hire members of the press, they expressed concern at the time, because “Obama may be different in terms of the sheer number of ink-stained wretches and other news-media denizens that he has attracted.” More specifically: “The pattern of Obama hires has periodically aroused suspicions about the media’s allegedly cozy relationship with the president.”
And it hardly ended there. While the Post only mentioned a couple names in the 2013 expose, the Atlantic reported that there were 24 reporters hired by the Obama White House at the time of publication. The other names include:
- Senior Managing Director of the Office of Public Affairs Stephen Barr (Washington Post).
- VP Joe Biden’s Communications Director Shailagh Murray (Washington Post).
- Counselor Rosa Brooks (Los Angeles Times).
- Senior Communications Adviser for the HHS Roberta Baskin (Center for Public Inquiry).
- David Hoff (Education Week).
- Department of Transportation spokeswoman Sasha Johnson (CNN).
- Department of Transportation communications director Jill Zuckman (MSNBC).
- Senior Policy Strategy for Science and Technology Rick Weiss (Washington Post, Center for American Progress).
- Communications Director for the Office of Health Reform Linda Douglass (CBS, ABC).
- Treasury Department’s Eric Dash (New York Times)
- Treasury Department’s Anthony Reyes (MSNBC)
- Obama speechwriter Aneesh Raman (CNN).
- Chief of Staff to the U.S. China ambassador Jim Sciutto (CNN).
- The EPA’s Kelly Zito (San Francisco Chronicle).
- Warren Bass (Washington Post).
- Justice Department’s Beverly Lumpkin (Project on Government Oversight).
- Defense Department’s Geoff Morell (ABC). This one deserves a disclaimer, as Morell was hired by George W. Bush and retained his employment under Obama.
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Funny enough, the list is so long that The Atlantic had to update it three times because they kept missing names. They first reported that Obama had hired 15 journalists, then 21, 23, and finally 24.
Twenty-four journalists is a figure roughly four times higher than the number of Fox News personalities Trump has hired. The only “rebuttal” to this I’ve heard came from The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, who argued that Obama’s hiring was different because they weren’t all from one network (Fox). But as I already alluded too earlier, that’s because there aren’t any other mainstream right-wing networks to choose from.
All right: Were they from the same cable-news network — the same cable-news network that the president watches for hours and hours each day, and gets bogus information from?
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) December 7, 2018
So is what Trump did any different than Obama? Not at all. In fact, when it came to hiring journalists favorable to one’s agenda, Obama did that four times as often. It’s amusing how quickly the brain trust over at The Washington Post has forgotten their prior reporting.
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