Bill Shine Likely as Next White House Communications Director

Bill Shine after a meeting with Donald J. Trump on Nov. 21, 2016, at Trump Tower in New York.

WASHINGTON — Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive who was close to Roger E. Ailes, the network’s ousted chairman, is expected to be offered the job of White House communications director, according to four people familiar with the decision.

Mr. Shine, who was forced out as co-president at Fox News last May for his handling of sexual harassment scandals at the network, has met with President Trump in recent weeks about taking the West Wing communications job, which has been vacant since Hope Hicks left the job in March.

Four people familiar with the decision said it was likely to be announced and that the president had offered him the job. But the move has not been finalized, in part because of the president’s mercurial decision-making process and also because of Mr. Shine’s reluctance to walk into a chaotic West Wing.

As recently as a month ago, Mr. Shine didn’t want the job, according to a person familiar with his thinking. The former television executive was reluctant to deal with all the scrutiny, part of which could focus on his own connection to the sexual harassment scandal at Fox News, the person said.

On Wednesday, Mr. Shine did not respond to a request for comment, and the White House did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Mr. Shine was a central figure at Fox News during the era that the late Mr. Ailes was the company’s dominant player, helping to turn the broadcast network into a powerful conservative force in television and politics.

He started as a producer at Fox News, but nearly two decades later, Mr. Shine had become co-president at the network, widely seen as one of the top executives and protégé to Mr. Ailes.

A Long Island commuter and son of a New York City policeman, the unassuming Mr. Shine was viewed inside Fox News as embodying the network’s typical viewer, urging producers to run segments on bread-and-butter issues that would appeal to conservatives. He was also known as a loyal taskman for Mr. Ailes, so devoted to his bosses that Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, once privately described Mr. Shine to other executives as a “fine company man.”

Mr. Shine’s stature at the network weakened in the wake of the revelations against Mr. Ailes, which included multiple allegations of sexual harassment and several multimillion dollar settlements with the women who made the accusations against him.

Mr. Shine was accused in several lawsuits of covering up Mr. Ailes’s behavior and dismissing concerns from women who complained about it. Mr. Shine has denied any wrongdoing or knowing about Mr. Ailes’s behavior.

Several former employees at Fox News reacted with alarm — but not surprise — to reports that Mr. Shine may move into the top communications job at the White House.

Several who spoke on the condition that they remain anonymous said they were aghast that Mr. Shine would receive an offer to work in the White House while women who came forward to accuse Mr. Ailes of harassment have seen their television careers founder.

Mr. Shine’s connection to the accusations against Mr. Ailes could be particularly sensitive for the president, who was also accused of sexual misconduct during the 2016 campaign. Mr. Trump has denied those accusations, and officials at the White House said they are aware that they may face blowback for appointing someone so closely tied to Mr. Ailes and the culture of harassment toward women at Fox News.

One senior White House official said that few people internally were concerned about the accusations that Mr. Shine played a role in concealing Mr. Ailes’ behavior, in part because some staffers think Mr. Shine was just doing his job to protect the company. That official said Mr. Shine’s background in managing large groups of people — while working for the president’s favored network — kept his name in circulation for the role.

Mr. Shine has no previous political experience, but he enjoys powerful allies inside the president’s inner circle.

He is close with Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor, who is said to have advocated for him inside the White House. Ms. Conway, who is focused on the opioid crisis and who frequently travels, declined the job, according to two people close to the White House.

Mercedes Schlapp, a communications adviser to the White House, was seen initially as a favorite for the job, in part because of her good relationship with the chief of staff, John F. Kelly. But Mr. Trump did not offer it to her.

Mr. Shine’s appointment may ultimately do little to calm the infighting and ongoing battles over leaks that have defined the communications office since Ms. Hicks left.

But it would add to the ties between Mr. Trump and the Fox News network, which the president watches religiously.

Mr. Shine is also close to Sean Hannity, the Fox News host who has the president’s ear. In recent months, Mr. Shine was spotted at the president’s golf course in Florida with Mr. Hannity.

The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan last year was conducting a criminal investigation into Fox News’s handling of sexual harassment complaints. The status of that investigation is not clear.

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