Bill Shine, a former co-president of Fox News and top lieutenant to the network’s founder, Roger Ailes, has spoken with White House officials about taking a position on President Donald Trump’s communications team, according to several people briefed on the discussions.
Shine has no political experience outside of producing cable news, and he was forced out of Fox News in May after his name surfaced in lawsuits that accused him of abetting Ailes’ harassing behavior toward women. (Shine has denied all wrongdoing, as did Ailes, who died in May.)
But Shine has an influential ally in Fox News host Sean Hannity, an informal adviser to Trump — and one of his most loyal on-air supporters — who dined with Shine, the president and the first lady at the White House last week.
Shine’s job prospects are unclear now that Trump has fired his communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, who also attended last week’s dinner and worked with Shine during his tenure as a host on Fox News and the Fox Business Network. Shine’s association with Scaramucci may hinder his chances with some factions in the West Wing.
Shine’s discussions last week with the Trump team were confirmed by two senior administration officials who requested anonymity to describe private conversations. A third person briefed on the discussions said that the administration was considering a behind-the-scenes role for Shine that took advantage of his skills producing and staging televised events.
Shine, 54, did not respond to a request for comment. The White House did not return inquiries on Tuesday morning.
Hannity, through a Fox News spokeswoman, said that the topic of Shine’s employment did not arise at their dinner with the president. “Bill Shine is talented enough that he doesn’t need my help in getting a job in the White House or any other position,” Hannity said in a statement.
The president’s public-relations team has been in a state of flux, between Scaramucci’s abrupt exit on Monday and the resignation last month of the first press secretary, Sean Spicer.
Unlike the bombastic Scaramucci, Shine is known as a low-key operator with a nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic and an allergy to the spotlight. At Fox News, he was seen as embodying the channel’s typical viewer, pitching stories about meat-and-potatoes issues like the gas tax and boasting to colleagues about his commute from Long Island on an early-morning train filled with construction workers.
Hannity, who speaks frequently with Trump, is close with Shine, and the two men spend time together with their families. At Fox News, the pair talked several times a day, and Hannity, in an unusual move, publicly defended Shine when the executive’s job was in jeopardy, saying that his exit would mark “the total end” of Fox News “as we know it.”
Shine was also a loyal deputy to Ailes, an association that eventually led to his departure from the network. Although Shine denied knowing that Ailes had sexually harassed employees, his presence at the network was eventually seen as a symbol of a tainted era that the Murdoch family, which controls Fox News, was trying to leave behind.
Scaramucci, during a profanity-laced interview with the New Yorker last week, seemed to signal that he was considering Shine for a position, suggesting that Reince Priebus, the now-ousted chief of staff, would attempt to capsize the appointment.
“ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in,’ ” Scaramucci told reporter Ryan Lizza, apparently in an impersonation of Priebus. He added, in colorful language, that Priebus would likely try to leak it.