Bill Shine is leaving the White House and joining the 2020 Trump reelection campaign, an operation that has as much as anything served as a slush fund to keep fired Trumpers on the organizational payroll and in check. Maybe we’ll find out there’s some comical or horrifying scandal that triggered this move – find out in six months. But there may be a more straightforward explanation.
In Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article about Fox News, one of the themes is President Trump’s growing frustration with Shine. It seems to follow a consistent pattern: Shine was brought in to solve a problem intrinsic to the Trump presidency, horrible press. Now that President Trump is as unpopular as ever, he’s decided Shine has failed.
As Mayer portrays it, Trump thought Shine was Roger Ailes’ protege, the closest he could get to Ailes’ evil genius since Ailes is now dead. But he was really more like Ailes yes-man and errand boy. Sort of like Ailes’ Michael Cohen.
Here’s one choice passage …
Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group that routinely criticizes Fox News, says that Shine became “an expert in collecting and enforcing soft power,” adding, “He was responsible for on-air contributors to programs, so ultimately you were auditioning for Bill Shine. He was the one who would give you the lucrative contract. He controlled the narrative that way.” Nevertheless, some people at Fox called him Bill the Butler, because he was so subservient to Ailes. A former Fox co-host says, “He’s perfect for the White House job. He’s a yes-man.” Another Fox alumnus said, “His only talent was following orders, sucking up to power, and covering up for people.”
And here’s another …
A source close to Trump says that the President has been complaining that Shine hasn’t been aggressive enough. Late last year, Trump told the source, “Shine promised me my press coverage would get better, but it’s gotten worse.” The source says, “Trump thought he was getting Roger Ailes but instead he got Roger Ailes’s gofer.”
Obviously you need to leave some room for backbiting and the Trump White House’s endemic factional feuding. But it seems – as so often happens – Trump brought Shine in for an impossible task and Shine wasn’t up to the job in the first place.