Hope Hicks, previously one of President Trump’s closest aides, is becoming a key executive at Fox News Channel’s parent company.
Monday’s announcement inspired lots of quips about the revolving door between the Trump White House and the Murdoch media empire. Fox News co-president Bill Shine joined the White House communications team over the summer.
But this move is actually a big change for Hicks. As White House communications director, she assisted the president, set up interviews and channeled his views.
Now she is joining FOX as executive vice president and chief communications officer, which means she will run public relations and other aspects of the TV company.
She will not officially start work until early 2019 – because FOX is in the midst of a major corporate transaction. Disney is buying most of 21st Century Fox, including cable channels like FX and the company’s movie studio.
But Disney is not buying Fox News, Fox Sports or the company’s broadcast network or TV stations. So those assets will be spun off to form a slimmed-down version of Fox, officially named, you guessed it, FOX.
Last week, the company announced the new all-caps name and confirmed that Lachlan Murdoch will be the CEO while his father Rupert Murdoch will be the co-chairman.
Monday’s hiring of Hicks is part of the executive transition. Her role will take effect when the spin-off is in place.
The current PR chief at 21st Century Fox, Julie Henderson, is leaving when the deal is done, along with several other executives.
Hicks will be moving to Los Angeles for the FOX role. She will report to Viet Dinh, FOX’s chief legal and policy officer. Dinh, in turn, reports to Lachlan Murdoch.
Hicks will work at the C-suite level. Fox News, based in New York, has its own PR operation. But Fox News – with its highly-rated pro-Trump talk shows – is one of the main assets of FOX.
Hicks previously worked in New York for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, then moved to Washington at the start of the Trump presidency. Before she resigned in February, she was one of the president’s longest-serving aides.
Ever since then, there’s been speculation that she would take a job in the corporate world, mixed with the occasional rumor about a return to the Trump White House.
Hicks was spotted boarding Air Force One back in August, but has otherwise kept a low profile in her eight months since leaving the White House.
Hicks’ hiring stirred intrigue because President Trump and Rupert Murdoch have a complicated and mutually beneficial relationship. The two men are known to speak regularly. And Fox News is a key part of Trump’s media machine.
It’s unknown if any of that factored into Hicks’ decision.
She declined to comment when the announcement was made on Monday.
FOX also announced the hiring of Danny O’Brien, an executive at GE, to be the head of government relations.
While Hicks has connections to Trump, O’Brien has roots in Democratic politics as a former chief of staff to several Democratic senators.