According to the Washington Post, the “Trump White House” is now the “Fox News White House.” As former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert was selected by President Donald Trump to replace Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador, Post columnist Philip Bump decried the “Foxification” of the White House. And Trump has indeed hired plenty of Fox News talent.
Among those former Fox News employees that work (or worked) for the Trump Administration include National Security Adviser John Bolton, Trump legal team member Joseph E. diGenova, 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. The only other network Trump has hired a journalist from was CNBC’s Larry Kudlow.
Without any context for those seven FNC hires, the Washington Post’s criticism is meaningless. After all, how many journalists did Barack Obama hire? The answer is nearly three times as many, and ironically, it was another writer at the Washington Post, Paul Farhi, who called foul on Obama’s massive hiring of left-wing journalists back in 2013 following the hiring of TIME’s Richard Stengel. While Farhi noted that it’s common for presidents to hire members of the press, he 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.”
Obama hired at least 23 journalists, and hilariously, hired nearly as many solely from the Washington Post as Trump has hired exclusively from Fox. The list includes:
- U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power (U.S. News, the Boston Globe, the New Republic).
- Speechwriter Desson Thomson (Washington Post movie critic and Clinton speechwriter).
- John Kerry staffer Glen Johnson (Boston Globe editor).
- Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs 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).
- 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).
- Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communication 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).
- The Treasury Department’s Eric Dash (New York Times)
- The 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).
- Susan Rice speechwriter Warren Bass (Washington Post).
- The Justice Department’s Beverly Lumpkin (Project on Government Oversight).
- The 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.
One of those on the list, ABC’s Geoff Morell, began working for the Defense Department in 2007, and continued working in the Obama administration, so perhaps it would be appropriate to factor him out.
Regardless, there’s still at least 22 journalists who went to work for Obama, while Trump is under fire for hiring seven from Fox (or eight if you include Kudlow). Either way, Obama has hired roughly three times as many journalists are Trump has, and of course, they were all journalists who previously cozied up to the administration in their work.
The only attempt I’ve seen for a rebuttal to this fact 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 is obvious to anyone’s that’s channel surfed before, that’s because there aren’t any other mainstream right-wing networks to choose journalists from. Given that Wemple is employed in a field (journalism) where only 7% of people are Republicans, he should know this.