Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director who served during the chaotic first year of the Trump administration, has been named head of corporate communications for New Fox, the company to emerge after 21st Century Fox completes the sale of assets to Disney early next year.
Hicks has been named exec VP and chief communications officer for Fox. She will report to Viet Dinh, Fox’s chief legal and policy officer. Also appointed at New Fox on Monday was Danny O’Brien as exec VP and head of government relations. He comes to Fox after working in the same capacity for GE Transportation.
“Hope and Danny are proven leaders and world-class public affairs professionals. Together they will define and project Fox’s voice to our relevant communities,” Dinh said.
Hicks will succeed Julie Henderson as communications chief for Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. Henderson, exec VP and chief communications officer for 21st Century Fox, and communications senior VP Nathaniel Brown, have opted not to make the transition to the New Fox entity. Hicks will be based in Los Angeles.
New Fox will be rooted in television and revolve around Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News and Fox Sports. Disney is buying the 20th Century Fox studio, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners and other entertainment-focused assets for $71.3 billion.
Hicks left the White House in February amid the expanding probes into the 2016 presidential election and questions about the depth of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian entities focused on influencing the bitter contest between Trump and his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton. In February, just before her resignation from the White House, Hicks gave more than eight hours of private testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in connection with the House probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Hicks’ close association with Trump made her appointment at Fox an immediately hot topic of discussion on social media. Critics on the left cited it as more signs that Fox News aims to promote the Trump administration’s agenda with an eye toward the presidential campaign.
“Hope Hicks’ presence at Fox will further align the Trump communications apparatus with the Fox News propaganda machine,” said Angelo Carusone, president of the watchdog group Media Matters for America.
Hicks’ appointment was hailed via Twitter by her former colleague, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “Fox won’t find anyone smarter or more talented than Hope Hicks,” Sanders wrote.
Hicks had been a close advisor to President Donald Trump, having joined his campaign in January 2015 after working as director of communications for the Trump Organization. Earlier in her career she worked for the PR firms Hiltzik Strategies and Zeno Group.
O’Brien has deep ties on Capitol Hill. He previously served as chief of staff to three U.S. senators — Joe Biden, Robert Menendez and Robert Torricelli — and was staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.