"I'm a sexist!": Wife of Trump's newest White House hire encouraged harassment in the military

"What do you think is going to happen when you go on a submarine for 12 months with 4,000 horny soldiers?"

Published July 12, 2018 12:08PM (EDT)

Darla and Bill Shine (Getty/Dimitrios Kambouris)
Darla and Bill Shine (Getty/Dimitrios Kambouris)

Darla Shine, the wife of newly minted White House communications chief Bill Shine, is again facing backlash for remarks she made on her radio show roughly a decade ago.

In remarks first reported by CNN, Shine called herself "sexist" on a 2009 episode of the "Darla Shine Show" and said that it was "insanity" that women would want to serve on the front lines of combat. She also suggested that women in the military should expect to be sexually harassed.

"You know there was just a story with these girls, these women who are upset that they are sexually harassed in the military," Shine said at the time. "What do you think is going to happen when you go on a submarine for 12 months with 4,000 horny soldiers?"

Shine has come under intense scrutiny following the hiring of her husband, disgraced former Fox News executive Bill Shine who was ousted from the right-wing cable news giant amidst a massive sexual harassment scandal, as Trump's new head of communication. Shine, who once ran a blog called "Happy Housewives Club," where she highlighted recipes and tips on cleaning and budgeting, also made public comments discrediting sexual assault accusersspreading anti-vaccination conspiracy theories and making racially charged comments.

Her husband, Bill Shine, was ousted from his job as president of Fox News in May 2017 after being named in multiple lawsuits for his handling of the network's mounting sexual harassment scandals. He joined the White House as deputy chief of staff for communications — the administration's sixth in 18 months — earlier this month. The position had been vacant since Hope Hicks' departure in March.

Darla Shine and the disgraced Fox News executive have been recently called out by late Fox News chairman Roger Ailes accusers and former Fox News anchors Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly, suggesting the first public relations challenge Shine may be tasked with squashing is the growing controversy around his own hiring.

Bill Shine, who had a reputation as being the "henchman" of Ailes, could reprise his old job with his new boss. The president himself has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by multiple women and has defended Ailes and former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly amid allegations against them. Just hours after Shine's hiring became official, Trump made a joke about the "Me Too" movement at a rally in Montana.

Inside the White House, Shine's appointment has reportedly been seen as a way to push out Chief of Staff John Kelly.  "They've basically stopped telling Kelly when meetings are. People leave him off the calendar," an administration official told Vanity Fair. "When he finds out, he storms into the room and is like, 'What's going on?'"

A Republican close to the White House told Vanity Fair that Trump hopes Shine's growing role in the administration will encourage Kelly to quit. "Trump is too chickensh*t to fire Kelly himself," the source reportedly said. Vanity Fair also reported that the president was "effusive about Shine's production of the much-hyped prime-time rollout of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Monday night" to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

"Shine brought in all new lights," a person briefed on the production told the magazine. "He gave Trump what's called a 'downlight.' Trump’s a little fat, but that made him look younger."

The ascent of Shine further highlights Trump's seeming desire to have Fox News take over the White House.

In addition to soliciting advice from Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity, a close friend and adviser to the president, Trump "has also made a point of filling his administration with former Fox News staffers, on-air personalities and executives like Shine," the Daily Beast notes:

Former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert currently serves as the spokesperson for the State Department; longtime Fox News commentator John Bolton serves as Trump's national security adviser; Fox News commentator Mercedes Schlapp, currently the White House's director of strategic communications, was considered a potential frontrunner for the job given to Shine.

Most recently, the president's newly separated eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., brought his new girlfriend, Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, to the White House's Fourth of July festivities.

Besides his record of hiring former Fox News staffers, Trump has made a point of defending sexual harassment accusers. Earlier this year, when White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter was accused of physical and emotional abuse by several former partners, Trump lamented a perceived lack of "due process." And despite the allegations against Porter, Trump recently told some advisers he hopes Porter returns to work in the West Wing. The president also endorsed the far-right former judge Roy Moore, accused of child molestation, in his bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama.

As my colleague Rachel Leah notes, the "appointment of Shine underscores that a job candidate's role in multiple workplace sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits is not a deterrent for the White House."

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By Shira Tarlo

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