Ex-White House press secretary Sarah Sanders made her debut on Fox News this week, another person through the revolving door between journalism and politics. Sanders will be on “Fox and Friends” yielding political insight and commentary from a rare perspective: Someone who has seen inside the White House during one of the most contentious presidencies of late.
Sanders is among the nearly two dozen who have worked at both Fox News and in Trump’s administration: Bill Shine, former deputy White House chief of staff and former co-president of Fox News; Hope Hicks, chief communications officer at Fox after serving as Trump’s communications director; Heather Nauert, who served as both a Fox News anchor and Under Secretary of State; former White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah, who became a senior vice president at Fox News.
As Tom Jones over at Poynter pointed out, it’s not usual for someone to go from being in politics to covering politics. ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos worked in Bill Clinton’s White House. Diane Sawyer worked for President Richard Nixon. Tim Russert worked in politics before hosting “Meet The Press.” Former President Barack Obama had press secretaries who worked for networks after his presidency.
It’s not a bad idea, Jones wrote.
“Who else can speak to what goes on inside a White House better than those who have actually been in the White House? It’s like a network hiring an ex-athlete or coach to analyze games,” he wrote in his weekly newsletter.
The difference, however, is that “good sports analysts don’t have a rooting interest in the outcome of games,” Jones points out. Time has shown Fox and the White House are cozy friends. Sanders is now one of the most visible ex-Trump administration staffers to move over to the network, and one can only expect she will continue to promote the administration’s interests, considering the warm goodbye Trump gave her on Twitter.
Now, no writer, reporter or commentator, including myself, is completely free of bias. But the process — the way we write, report or comment — is meant to promote impartiality in the face of our own opinions. So what happens if that process is flawed? Considering how the White House and Fox interact, that seems likely.
This concept goes for both sides of the aisle. Both parties are equally guilty for playing favorites with media; the media is guilty of acting wholly righteous when signs of bias leak through. While Sanders is the latest to jump ship and head for more predictable shores — a governorship in Arkansas, maybe? — journalists moving to politics (or vice versa) is a tale as old as time.