One of the most inevitable stories of the immediate post-Trump era surfaced on Tuesday: Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, it turns out, has been in negotiations to join Fox News.

According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), McEnany wrote in her termination financial disclosure that she had an “employment agreement” with Fox News, “starting work in January.” Asked about that claim, Fox News issued this statement: “Kayleigh McEnany is not currently an employee or contributor at Fox News.” A network source indicated that Fox News had discussions about a position after the election but had “paused on them,” though “we are open to hiring her in the future given we do not condone cancel culture.” (It seems Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch’s whining is trickling down through the ranks.)

It’s unclear whether McEnany will join the network, but it’s worth noting that Fox News recently lost its existing ex-Trump press secretary, Sarah Sanders. A Fox News contributor since August 2019, Sanders had to relinquish the position upon announcing her candidacy for governor of Arkansas. Now Fox News is looking at a former-Trump-press-secretary pool of Sean Spicer (now with Newsmax), Stephanie Grisham (who never held a press briefing) and McEnany.

The appeal of all four to a network like Fox News is that, more than any cluster of unprofessionals in former president Donald Trump’s orbit, his former press secretaries have the most experience in covering up, promoting and articulating lies. Fox News hired Sanders, for instance, just months after the Mueller report showed she lied about alleged support within the FBI for the May 2017 firing of then-FBI Director James B. Comey. McEnany carried forward the tradition of disinformation stemming from the Trump White House, most egregiously in the final two months of her tenure, as she pushed specious report after specious report in service of the lie that the election had been stolen from her boss.

Don’t forget, either, that McEnany auditioned for her press secretary position by propagandizing for Trump on Fox networks (after first making a splash in the TV world at CNN, where she worked as a contributor defending Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign). Much has been written about the merger between the Trump presidency and Fox News — how these two organizations traded personnel and talking points to the point that it became impossible to separate the two. Examples abound: Sanders moving from her perch to Fox News; Sean Hannity serving as White House “shadow chief of staff”; former Fox News vice president Bill Shine taking a job as White House communications director; and Trump, of course, tweeting and governing based on whatever Fox News was broadcasting on any given day. There’s a lot of depravity in that bundle, as Jane Mayer reported in the New Yorker.

There’s a good case, though, that McEnany did more to join the two groups’ messages than anyone. According to Laura Keiter, a spokeswoman for Media Matters for America, McEnany has appeared on Fox News weekday programming at least 325 times since August 2017, when she left CNN to become Republican National Committee spokeswoman. After the announcement of her selection as White House press secretary last April, she appeared on Fox News weekday programming at least 93 times. Another key figure: After the presidential election, she appeared on “Hannity” at least 23 times — during the very period that she was allegedly negotiating for a job at Fox News. Meanwhile, for the entire length of her time as press secretary, McEnany turned in zero weekday appearances on CNN and MSNBC, according to Media Matters. And she conducted just 41 formal press briefings, according to Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project.

None of this is illegal. Press secretaries may speak to whatever outlets they please, just like presidents. That’s their First Amendment right. Steering your misleading TV appearances to a single outlet, while neglecting your obligations to the rest of the press corps and negotiating an eventual paid gig — that’s an abdication of duty to the public.

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