On Wednesday, President Trump turned to the world of television for the latest addition to his staff, selecting longtime CNBC personality Larry Kudrow to replace outgoing Gary Cohn as the head of the White House National Economic Council.
But the president might not be finished plucking talking heads quite yet.
Fox & Friends weekend co-host Pete Hegseth, who was reportedly among Trump’s top candidates to be Veterans Affairs Secretary during the transition, is once again being rumored to run the department, this time as a possible replacement for the agency’s current secretary, David Shulkin.
According to Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich, Hegseth is among the frontrunners to replace the embattled Shulkin, a longtime Philadelphia resident and Obama administration holdover who used taxpayer dollars to pay for his wife to go to Europe and faces allegations that he used a member of his security detail to help him purchase and transport furniture from Home Depot.
Neither Hegseth nor Fox News responded to a request for comment.
Earlier this week, Trump called Hegseth in the middle of a meeting with a surprised Shulkin and asked the Fox & Friends host to analyze new legislation that would impact the VA, according to a report by Axios’ Jonathan Swan. The two have reportedly spoken often during Trump’s first year in office, and Hegseth dined with the president in the East Wing in October.
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Hegseth, a Princeton University graduate, is an Army veteran and a former leader of right-leaning veterans groups. He withdrew from the Senate race in Minnesota in 2012 after failing to secure an endorsement from state Republican leaders.
If hired, Hegseth wouldn’t be the first Fox & Friends host to land a job in Trump’s administration. The president hired former Fox & Friends anchor Heather Nauert as a spokeswoman for the State Department in April 2017. Now, thanks to the dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and under secretary Steve Goldstein, she is now the fourth-highest-ranking official at Foggy Bottom.
Trump also reportedly considered replacing former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer with Kimberly Guilfoyle, the co-host of The Five. Former Fox News commentator and syndicated talk show host Monica Crowley declined a job as the senior communications director for the National Security Council after it was reveled she plagiarized sections of her 2012 bestselling book, What the (Bleep) Just Happened?
CNN shakes up its lineup
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, one of the network’s most prominent personalities, is having his evening airtime cut in half to make room for a new 9 p.m. show anchored by Chris Cuomo that will launch in the spring.
After a test run in January that saw a slight lift in the ratings for CNN, the network will place Cuomo Prime Time head-to-head against television’s two most popular cable news programs: The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC and Hannity on Fox News.
Cuomo, the son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and brother of the current governor, Andrew Cuomo, will be replaced on New Day by longtime anchor and correspondent John Berman. Alisyn Camerota will remain on New Day as Berman’s co-anchor. CNN didn’t release the exact date when the new lineup will begin, and didn’t announce a replacement for Berman, who currently anchors the network’s 9 a.m. timeslot.
Recently, CNN has struggled to keep up in a ratings battle with Fox News and MSNBC. Maddow and MSNBC dominated the ratings on Tuesday night during coverage of a closely watched special election in western Pennsylvania, drawing a total prime time audience of 2.858 million viewers, according to Nielsen. CNN finished a distant third with 1.612 million viewers.
Sinclair’s latest ‘must-run’ segment spins Pa. special election
The apparent victory by Democrat Conor Lamb in a western Pennsylvania House district that Trump won by nearly 20 points in 2016 is somehow good news for the president.
That’s the take offered by Boris Epshteyn, the chief political analyst for Sinclair Broadcast Group who was an adviser on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. During a morning spot on Sinclair-owned Fox 45 in Baltimore, Epshteyn painted Trump as the real winner of the election, arguing that Lamb’s win would have been larger if the president hadn’t traveled to the district to rally for Republican candidate Rick Saccone, referring to it as a “Trump bump”
“Saccone was down by about six points going into the final weekend. Now it’s tied. I don’t see how this is a negative for the Republicans,” Epshteyn said. “I see it as a positive.”
The pro-Trump spin continued in Epshteyn’s latest “must-run” segment all Sinclair stations are forced to air, in which the Trump supporter said the unlikely victory in a deeply conservative district wasn’t an “indication of a Democrat wave for the midterms in November.” He also reminded viewers that Trump “was not on the ballot.”
Epshteyn’s largely partisan commentary garners little interest online (the latest has fewer than 50 views), but they remain influential to hundreds of thousands of viewers due to Sinclair’s decision to require its 173 television stations in nearly 80 markets (including several in western Pennsylvania) to run his segments nine times a week.
Other regular “must-run” segments include commentary from former Sinclair VP Mark Hyman and Terrorism Alert Desk segments that almost exclusively focus on stories involving Islam.