Jul 22, 2018

Behind the scenes: Trump's TV guy

President Donald Trump walks to the podium before introducing Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as his nominee to the United States Supreme Court. July 9, 2018. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In the early evening of July 9th, Donald Trump stood in the gold draped East Room of the White House with a small group of senior advisers to rehearse his announcement of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee for the Supreme Court.

Trump stepped on and off the podium, riffing with his aides. While this was going on, Bill Shine, the former co-president of Fox News, was meticulously obsessing over the camera shot which looked out upon a red carpet, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Shine toyed with the lights, adjusted the podium and the microphone, moved objects in the backdrop, and conferred with the camera operator. He seemed oblivious to the other conversations happening around him.

  • Hours before the announcement, Shine had gone to the East Room to test the lighting, according to a source familiar with the situation. He showed the president three different lighting options and Trump selected his favorite.

What we're hearing: Trump has been frustrated that some of his previous appearances on camera have not had the production values of the prime time TV shows he spends so much time watching.

  • Trump frequently complains to aides about the "terrible lighting," sources who've been in the room for his outbursts have told me.
  • Now, instead of taking his grievances out on his chief of staff John Kelly, Trump has his own in-house TV producer to consult.

Yes, but: As a senior administration official pointed out to me, Shine's official role is much larger than being a high-end TV producer. He oversees the entire White House press and communications operations. "And if ever there was a week when [Trump's concern] went from 'how does it look' to 'how does it sound', it was this one," the official told me, referring to the attempted clean-up after Helsinki.

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