It's understandable that it wasn't conservative media personality Gina Loudon's title that garnered the most attention from her appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News program Wednesday night. She was there to tout her new book, “Mad Politics" and explained some of her findings to Hannity.
"My book actually uses science and real data and true psychological theory to explain why it is quite possible that this president is the most sound-minded person to ever occupy the White House,” she said.
"You are just — literally, liberals' heads are gonna explode at what you just said,” Hannity replied.
"Exploding right now!” she said. “That's the fun part of the madness is just watching them go crazy over the fact that he's really pretty unfazed by them. And I believe that, and I know him."
She certainly does, as someone who served as a surrogate for Trump's campaign and who has spent time with him at Mar-a-Lago.
Let's set aside the assertion that Loudon has data that explains why Trump might be more sound-minded than any past president. Let's instead pick up that other mystery, as a number of people on Twitter did, noticing the way Loudon was introduced and the on-screen text that described her position: “President Trump's Media Advisory Board member."
Many members of the media were surprised to learn that this advisory board existed, given that one would assume a media advisory board might have some engagement with the media. But sure enough, here's an announcement from Loudon in July 2017 that she'd been appointed to this body.
It's just that she is almost the only person who regularly identifies herself as a member of it.
It appears to be associated with Trump's reelection campaign and not the administration. Loudon appeared in a video for the campaign in October that introduced her as providing “Advisory Board commentary and opinion.” She was speaking about the opioid crisis, identifying herself as Dr. Gina, her go-to online identifier. (Her LinkedIn profile identifies her as a PhD in human development from Fielding Graduate University. It notes that she is "[c]ertified in Body Language Interpretation, and Hypnotherapy.") She also appeared at a campaign rally in June in Texas.
But the Trump campaign website makes no mention of a “media advisory board.” A search of news articles collected by Nexis shows that the only recent mentions of a Trump media advisory board come as part of news-show introductions of Loudon herself. (Requests for more information about the board sent to the campaign and Loudon were not answered.)
She's not the only one to have referred to the group, though.
Bruce LeVell serves as one of the leaders of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, a group that began before the election with the aim of mobilizing minority communities to support Trump. In August 2017, though, LeVell appeared on the Fox Business Network, where he was identified as “executive director of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump and president of the Trump Media Advisory Board.” In November, an internationally distributed report identified him as a member of the “Trump Media Advisory Board,” without a title.
In December, when LeVell appeared on Fox Business, he was identified with a different role: He was a “member of the president's 2020 advisory board.” That may be because his appearance was separated by one commercial break from an appearance by Loudon, identified as “Trump media advisory board member.” Since then, LeVell has not been identified in news appearances as a “media advisory board” member.
A search for their last names and “advisory board” yields no results, suggesting that at no time was any “advisory board” announced publicly. The implication is that “media advisory board” may simply be a more formal way of saying “designated campaign surrogate.” Implying, by extension, that Loudon's role with the campaign now is similar to what it was before the 2016 election: cable-news advocate.
Bolstering that idea: Loudon's July 2017 announcement about having been named to Trump's advisory board was followed up by, one a week later, her saying she had joined the board. This time, the tweet included a video of her cable-news advocacy of Trump during the 2016 cycle, suggesting that this was central to her role.
Luckily for Loudon, it seems unlikely that a more modest position with the campaign would prompt Hannity to treat her assertions with more skepticism.