White House Communications Director Hope Hicks in February. (Evan Vucci/AP)
Media critic

Something about Cheri Jacobus’s opinion piece, titled “The coming monetization of Hope Hicks and little ‘white lies,’ ” didn’t please the folks at the Hill. In such a circumstance, the usual approach is to make some edits.

The Hill chose a different management approach to this op-ed, however. It published it Sunday and then disappeared it. Jacobus, a Republican PR/political consultant, later posted it on Facebook. (Here’s a cached version.) That piece started out by comparing Hicks’s role as White House communications director to that of a ” ‘comfort goat’ placed in the stall of Secretariat to keep him calm. While Donald Trump is certainly no Triple Crown winning thoroughbred, the analogy seems otherwise apt.” Jacobus says that the Facebook posting is the same piece as the item that ran in the Hill.

Another paragraph on the piece posted to Facebook makes this argument:

Her youth, messy and irresponsible romantic entanglements, and model good-looks have given her potential criminality, or blind support thereof, an aura of glamour, prompting a spate of gossipy reports and speculation that Hope Hicks is ripe for a $10 million book deal, a movie, and any and all of the accoutrements awarded celebrities, regardless of how that celebrity status was achieved.

Precisely what soured The Hill on Jacobus’s work? Lisa Dallos, a spokeswoman for the Hill, issued this statement: “A senior editor saw the column soon after it posted and had questions about its tone and some statements. He pulled it down to re-examine and discuss it with the writer. There was no call or request from anyone in the Trump administration.” No further comment will be forthcoming, noted Dallos in an email.

According to Jacobus, the whole tale goes like this: The Hill asked her to write the piece; she wrote the piece; it went through “their normal process”; it disappeared from the Hill’s site a couple of hours after posting; she pressed people at the Hill to account for the story’s fate. “My emails to them were ignored,” she says. On Monday, she managed to get Frank Craig, an opinion editor, on the phone; Craig told Jacobus he didn’t like the piece but didn’t get specific.

The Erik Wemple Blog has no trouble finding lines to edit in Jacobus’s piece. Perhaps it would be best to use a less barnyard-y analogy to convey Hicks’s role in the Trump White House. Why not hold Hicks’s partners to account for those “messy and irresponsible romantic entanglements”? And as many commentators have pointed out, the emphasis on her physical appearance has been gross. “Potential criminality” isn’t a term destined for the Journalistic Hall of Fame, either.

The Hill, however, cannot be bothered to address any infirmities in the piece. Just forget about it.

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