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Trump adds (yet another) Fox News figure to his team

I'm struck by the unnerving frequency with which Fox News alum receive plum assignments in the Trump administration.
A Fox News reporter works from the Bernie Sanders rally in Iowa City, Ia., Jan. 30, 2016. (Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC)
A Fox News reporter works from the Bernie Sanders rally in Iowa City, Ia., Jan. 30, 2016. 

Donald Trump's original plan was to add Fox News' Monica Crowley to his National Security Council as the NSC's senior director of strategic communications. She was a poor choice, not just because of her professional background in this area, but also because Crowley was soon after confronted with a serious plagiarism controversy.

Crowley nevertheless remained in the White House's orbit, and a few months ago, she joined Team Trump with a job at the Treasury Department. Yesterday, she received a promotion.

President Trump announced Tuesday that he plans to appoint former Fox News contributor Monica Crowley to be the next spokeswoman for the Treasury Department.Crowley, who currently serves as the department's senior adviser for public affairs, will serve as an assistant Treasury secretary for public affairs, according to the release.

It's unusual to see someone derailed by a plagiarism scandal return so quickly to positions of governmental prominence.

But I'm also struck by the unnerving frequency with which Fox News alum receive plum assignments in the Trump administration. Indeed, the Crowley news comes just a few months after Morgan Ortagus, a former Fox News contributor, became the State Department's new spokesperson -- replacing Heather Nauert, a former Fox News anchor.

Two months before that, Lea Gabrielle, a former Fox News reporter, was hired to help lead the State Department's Global Engagement Center.

And circling back to our earlier coverage, each of these Fox News veterans found plenty of other folks on Team Trump who've made the transition from the president's television screen to his administration's staff.

Not long after Nauert joined Team Trump, for example, the president turned to former Fox News executive Bill Shine to help oversee the White House’s communications office. A few months earlier, Trump tapped Fox News’ John Bolton to serve as White House national security advisor – in part because the president thought he was “good on television.”

Around the same time, the president chose Joe diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing, to serve on his legal defense team. Both crossed the White House’s radar because they were – let’s all say it together – Fox News personalities. (Their role on the legal defense team was short lived.)

As regular readers may recall, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told Rachel on the show last year, “I’m concerned the president’s world is confined now to watching Fox News… Aside from his insular existence in the Oval Office, Fox is his whole world.”

Well, not his whole world: Trump hired television host Larry Kudlow to be the head of the White House National Economic Council – and Kudlow worked for CNBC.

He was something of an exception, though. In addition to the aforementioned Fox veterans, Fox News’ K.T. McFarland was Trump’s deputy national security advisor; Fox News’ Jonathan Wachtel was named the spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the United Nations; and Fox News contributors such as Ben Carson and Elaine Chao are in the president’s cabinet.

The Washington Post joked during the presidential transition period, “The Trump revolution won’t just be televised. It will be led by television talking heads.” It’s even truer now than it was then.

Following up on an item from last year, I should emphasize that as a rule, I’m not at all inclined to criticize those who watch a lot of cable news. It just so happens that I work for a cable-news television show and get paid by a cable-news network.

That said, it’s also fair to say that while we’ve had media-conscious presidents in American history, we’re never seen someone with the kind of obsession Trump has. To get a job on Team Trump, go on TV. To get a message to the president, go on TV. To influence the direction of the White House, go on TV.

This isn’t how the executive branch of a global superpower is supposed to work.

* Postscript: My list is not intended to be comprehensive, and I've probably missed a few. Media Matters tends to stay on top of the details.