So Donald Trump is going to bring his newly hired director of communications, Bill Shine, to his summit with Vladimir Putin. Forget, for a moment, the predictions about what might happen: Will Trump defect? Will Putin give him (additional?) instructions about how to undermine American democracy? Instead, take a look at the symbolism. Shine’s rise to this position illustrates just how debased our politics have become and whom this government really represents.
Consider the following. Trump has, over the course of his career, proven himself to be a profoundly ignorant racist, nativist, loudmouthed con man who, having inherited some $40 million from his KKK-supporting father, proceeded to fail upward. He ripped off people as he exploited the idiocy of tabloid media to build a “brand” based on a constant stream of bullshit. He repeatedly denigrated women as “pigs” and “dogs”—when he was not bragging about grabbing their private parts. Trump was also accused, lest we forget, of rape or attempted rape three times, including by his ex-wife Ivana (since walked back), and of sexual misconduct at least another 16 times.
Now take a look at Shine. The Daily Beast’s Scott Bixby reports that he acted as Roger Ailes’s “butler,” “henchman,” “enforcer,” and “executioner” for two decades at Fox News. Ailes inherited his power from Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch, and proceeded to use it to spread lies and misinformation on behalf of the racist, sexist, and nativist agenda the two men share. (Poll after poll has demonstrated that people whose primary news source is Fox are the most misinformed individuals in the country.) In doing so, they earned billions for Murdoch and made Ailes a kingmaker for the Republican Party.
Along the way, Shine worked to enable Ailes during his reign of sexual terror at Fox. This allegedly included Ailes’s blackmailing of former Fox booker Laurie Luhn, who claims that Ailes coerced her into dancing in lingerie while being filmed. Shine made Luhn’s travel arrangements for their secret rendezvous. When Ailes grew concerned that she might complain, according to reporting by Gabriel Sherman in New York magazine, Shine recommended a psychiatrist (because, naturally, she was the crazy one) and monitored her e-mails to protect Ailes’s reputation. (Shine has denied monitoring Luhn’s e-mails.)
As Fox’s president, Shine also apparently did nothing to interfere with Bill O’Reilly’s persistent sexual harassment of his female underlings, which resulted in $45 million in hush-money settlements to six women. Shine also reportedly supported O’Reilly in his battle with Megyn Kelly, who sought to prevent the network from standing behind the accused sexual predator.