Hope Hicks’ expected departure from the White House isn’t just a loss for President Donald Trump — it’s arguably a bigger one for members of the press.
White House insiders have long known that Hicks has been the integral link between access to the president and legacy publications like The New York Times and Vanity Fair. Often, insiders tell The Daily Caller News Foundation, Hicks would arrange interviews or leaks to reporters without consulting other communications staffers.
The Times’ Maggie Haberman, who got the initial scoop on Hick’s resignation, went through exhaustive lengths to make clear Hicks’ departure wasn’t about her controversial Hill hearing where she admitted telling “white lies” for President Donald Trump.
“Hope Hicks departure is NOT about yesterday’s hearing, per multiple sources. She had planned it before, had been thinking about it for months. She had informed a very small number of people prior to Hill hearing that she planned to leave,” Haberman tweeted.
On CNN Thursday, Haberman also described Hicks’ departure one day after a barrage of negative press as purely “coincidental,” which is peculiar considering her experience in managing White House optics.
The Washington Post, another publication rumored to get exclusive access from Hicks, ended its report on her resignation with a rather fawning description of her sartorial choices:
“Despite studiously eschewing the spotlight, Hicks increasingly found herself in it. During Trump’s trip to Asia last fall, Hicks was part of the coterie of aides who accompanied the president to a state dinner in Tokyo. Ever the sartorialist, Hicks wore a sleek black tuxedo, complete with a bow-tie,” WaPo reported.
“The next morning, Hicks’s visage was beamed around the world.”
In one of the earliest profiles of Hicks, Olivia Nuzzi for GQ (another publication Hicks allegedly favored) gushed about how Hicks is “a hugger and a people pleaser, with long brown hair and green eyes, a young woman of distinctly all-American flavor—the sort that inspires Tom Petty songs, not riots.”
Another narrative quickly unfolded as well: that Hicks’ exit means a more isolated president. Such an analysis may prove correct, but who will be the more isolated party — Trump or the media?
“President Donald Trump was left more beleaguered and isolated than ever after the resignation of his confidante Hope Hicks, one in the core of ‘originals’ who had nurtured the iconoclastic tycoon all the way to the White House,” wrote CNN’s Stephen Collinson in an analysis titled “With Hope gone, Trump could soon be left home alone.”
The guiding principle behind Hicks’ strategy of giving the mainstream media special access seemed to be her belief that she could charm reporters into providing favorable coverage.
Such a strategy clearly proved insufficient.
With less palace intrigue stories coming out of the White House and with Chief of Staff John Kelly likely exercising more control, who will really be more alienated?
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