‘In the Public Interest’: White House Exempts New Comms Director From Ethics Rules

New White House Director of Communications Bill Shine has received an exemption from federal government ethics rules so he can continue to communicate with Fox News, where he served as co-president until being forced out last year. Shine was seen as having covered up sexual harassment at the conservative news network.

“The Administration has an interest in you interacting with Covered Organizations such as Fox News,” White House counsel Don McGahn wrote in a memo last month granting an ethics waivers to Shine, The Daily Beast reports. “[T]he need for your services outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the White House Office’s programs and operations.”

Fox News is the only major TV news network seen as "friendly" to the Trump administration. Trump reportedly watches TV news, especially Fox, as much as 8 hours a day, which Trump disputes. He also has a close personal relationship with Fox's far right wing host, Sean Hannity, who reportedly advises the president regularly and speaks with Trump sometimes several times a day.

In addition to Shine, a total of 20 other Trump administration officials have received official waviers from ethics laws, including former CNBC host Larry Kulow, who joined the Trump team as Director of the National Economic Council.

The White House last year also "issued a blanket ethics waiver allowing all senior West Wing appointees to freely communicate with the press," including former Breitbart publisher Steve Bannon. The waiver was retroactive, and was seen as an attempt to protect Bannon.

AlterNet describes Shine's relationship with Fox News as "sketchy."


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