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Bill Shine was known as an enforcer during his time as an executive at Fox News, which ended with his unceremonious departure from the network in May 2017.
Since joining Donald Trump’s White House as deputy chief of staff in charge of communications earlier this month, Shine has channeled his late boss Roger Ailes, overseeing a crackdown on the press that came to a head on Wednesday.
CNN White House reporter Kaitlin Collins, who was on “pool duty” on Wednesday, was told by Shine and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that she had lobbed “inappropriate” questions at the president during an earlier availability and was not welcome at an open press event later in the afternoon.
While the press and White House have been in conflict since day one of the Trump presidency, Wednesday’s episode drew unusual outrage and derision from across the industry, including Shine’s former colleague, Fox News president of news Jay Wallace, and Fox News anchor Bret Baier.
A source close to CNN told The Hollywood Reporter that Shine was “absolutely” responsible for the ban. (In one photo of the scrum following the president’s meeting with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Shine could be seen in the doorway, looking on disapprovingly and crossing his arms.)
“Shine has the ultimate responsibility,” said a Republican close to the White House. “For a deputy chief of staff to be doing this kind of stuff feels very incongruous and very inappropriate.”
Two MSNBC anchors, Chris Hayes and Stephanie Ruhle, similarly placed the blame on Shine and drew a line to his time at Fox News. “Wait, Bill Shine did something creepy and bullying to a woman who works for a cable news network? How shocking,” Hayes wrote on Twitter. Ruhle said that Shine “bullied a female journalist doing her job,” adding, “If you can’t teach an old dog new tricks-consider putting a cat in charge.”
On Thursday morning, Shine fielded questions from reporters about the incident and protested the media’s use of the word “ban” to describe the action taken against Collins.
Rick Wilson, a longtime Republican Party strategist, said the incident “reads as a kind of petty, ass-kissing to make the boss happy. His obsession with CNN is famous, and Bill and Sarah know it.”
Shine was also blamed for the White House’s decision to cancel national security advisor John Bolton’s planned July 15 appearance on CNN in retaliation for the “bad behavior” of the network’s chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
“It’s a lot uglier all of a sudden,” a CNN source had said in the wake of the incident, assessing Shine’s impact.
Angelo Carusone, president of the left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters for America, said that Wednesday’s draconian action was par for the course for Shine. “Shine’s role at Fox News was to impose order and ensure alignment across the network,” he said. “Put another way, he’s exercising the power that he has in order to threaten journalists and make it clear that the White House will impose consequences for coverage it deems troublesome.”
Predicted Carusone, “This is just the beginning, too. It’s only going to get more intense from here.”
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