Shine plans to continue in the Trump orbit as a senior adviser to the president’s 2020 reelection campaign.
“Serving President Trump and this country has been the most rewarding experience of my entire life,” Shine said in a statement. “To be a small part of all this President has done for the American people has truly been an honor. I’m looking forward to working on President Trump’s reelection campaign and spending more time with my family.”
Shine told White House advisers on Friday that he was resigning because he was proving too much of a distraction to Trump and that he was lonely in Washington, with his family living in New York and Charleston, S.C. But Shine had recently moved into a nicer apartment in Washington, one person familiar with the situation said, and had embraced some of the Washington social scene.
A former president of Fox News and protege of the late Roger Ailes, Shine, 55, was recruited to the White House in July by Trump to help buff the president’s public image and direct his communications strategy.
In recent months, however, Trump has complained about his media coverage and blamed Shine in part for not making it more positive, according to current and former administration officials.
The two men had a number of disagreements in recent weeks, said aides, who were granted anonymity to speak freely. Shine, for instance, did not accompany the president on his trip last week to Vietnam for a high-stakes summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, even though he was supposed to attend.
Kevin McAleenan | President Trump said on Oct. 11, 2019 that he was replacing Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, after a tenure where McAleenan lowered border crossings but clashed with other senior immigration officials and struggled to earn the trust of the president. Read the story (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Departures that made headlines during Trump’s administration
Still, Trump praised Shine and his work in a statement issued Friday.
“Bill Shine has done an outstanding job working for me and the Administration,” Trump said. “We will miss him in the White House, but look forward to working together on the 2020 Presidential Campaign, where he will be totally involved. Thank you to Bill and his wonderful family!”
Shine becomes the latest in a long run of top communications officials to depart the Trump White House. His predecessors included Hope Hicks, Anthony Scaramucci and Michael Dubke, as well as Sean Spicer, who initially held the dual roles of press secretary and communications director.
The turbulence is indicative of a president who has had a historically high level of turnover among his White House senior staff. The turnover rate among Trump’s most influential tier of advisers was 65 percent as of March 1, according to a study from Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Trump has fumed over the White House media strategy and implemented major changes, including ending the traditional daily briefing. The president often acts as his own spokesman, commenting on news of the day during photo ops or impromptu sessions with reporters. On Friday, he reacted to news about the 47-month jail term of Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman, while walking out of the White House to board Marine One as he began a trip to Alabama to tour tornado damage.
Shine was largely responsible for the end of the daily White House press briefing, telling others it was not an effective messaging mechanism for the president and was not helping.
Shine was more interested, White House officials said, in staging TV events that focused on Trump — and often likened his job to a Fox News executive. Some White House officials said Shine was more focused on lighting and staging than on content, knowing the president is fixated on how things look on TV.
“There’s only one communications director, and he’s not mapping things out on a spreadsheet,” said Jen Psaki, who served as White House communications director under Barack Obama, suggesting that Trump has assumed that role.
Psaki oversaw a staff of between 45 to 50 people that aimed to “see around the corner” beyond the daily news cycle and develop a strategy to allow Obama to use his time wisely and promote a message to advance his governing agenda.
For Trump to be intimately involved in his own communications strategy not only takes his attention away from more important matters, Psaki said, but also means he is effectively “taking players off the field who could be advocating” for him.
Shine was credited with producing a series of short videos in which Trump spoke directly to the camera in the Rose Garden, clips that aimed to make use of the White House scenery as the president delivered his message directly to supporters. The clips were posted to social media, where they were widely viewed.
Shine previously spent two decades at Fox News Channel, where he began as a producer and rose up to become an executive and the No. 2 to Ailes, the network’s co-founder and chief executive, who resigned in 2016 following allegations of sexual harassment. Shine was named co-president, but he left the network in 2017.
Shine’s exit from the White House comes amid heightened scrutiny of the nexus between the Trump administration and Fox News, including a major piece by investigative journalist Jane Mayer published this week in the New Yorker. Shine has long been close friends with Fox host Sean Hannity, who is a booster of and informal adviser to Trump.
Sanders announced Shine’s resignation just as the president touched down in Georgia and before he boarded Marine One for an aerial tour of tornado damage in neighboring Alabama.
The president did not respond to questions shouted by reporters traveling with him Friday.
The White House distributed several statements of support for Shine from Trump and other top aides, including Sanders and chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Sanders called him a “great leader” with whom the staff enjoyed working.
Shine joins Trump’s burgeoning campaign team that is gearing up for the 2020 reelection push, as a number of prominent Democrats have already declared their candidacy for their party’s nomination.
“Bill Shine is an incredible professional and will bring insight and talent as we build a world-class campaign,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “The President’s re-election effort just got stronger.”