The White House Just Hired a Former Fox News Reporter, and the Role She'll Fill Is Ironic AF

Lea Gabrielle (Fox News/YouTube)

The Trump administration has chosen former Fox News reporter Lea Gabrielle the special envoy and coordinator of the Global Engagement Center as part of the State Department's efforts to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation. The announcement had been predicted to come as soon as today, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter.

"Lea will provide the permanent leadership we have needed to bolster the Global Engagement Center's operations," said Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino. "She will begin her duties on Monday."

You heard that right: a Fox News reporter hired to head up the State Department's counter-propaganda efforts.

Gabrielle's name was first floated for the position in September, and she would join a number of Fox News journalists, such as Heather Nauert, the State Department spokesperson, and the Bill Shine, the White House Communications chief, who've been hired by the Trump administration to serve key policy roles.

A former general assignment reporter for Shepard Smith Reporting, Gabrielle, a United States Naval Academy graduate and ex-fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, previously worked as a military reporter. She courted controversy last year after she criticized President Donald Trump on air over his plans for a military parade in Washington, referring to the idea as "completely unnecessary."

The GEC's mission includes "countering the adverse effects of state-sponsored propaganda and disinformation." Gabrielle's appointment comes at a time when the United States is contending with online disinformation campaigns, such as one that the Justice Department spoke of last week after a pro-Russian Twitter account disseminated confidential information from a case the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought against a Russian company.

But Gabrielle is inexperienced and would not be up to the task, according to Brett Bruen, a former White House director of global engagement during the Obama administration.

"Lea may be a great reporter and pilot. She has evidenced absolutely no knowledge of or experience with information warfare. Our nation, indeed the world, faces a serious and sophisticated threat. We need leadership that can take on this danger from day one," he said. "Her appointment endangers our elections, our public discourse, and potentially our economy."

The irony of Gabrielle's appointment is not lost on anyone, given her previous affiliation with Fox News, which has repeatedly come under fire for its often flattering coverage of the president and the tendency of its staff to amplify the president's messaging, even when shown to be false or misleading.

One administration official says the extent of Gabrielle's qualifications for the role is unclear. However, they expressed a belief that she'll be "an effective spokesperson."

How Gabrielle will impact the GEC's mandate is also unclear; the Trump administration's State Department has been criticized for not taking the threat of Russian disinformation efforts seriously.

Additionally, the State Department's failure to embark on a $40 million initiative to counter Russia election interference and disinformation has also been questioned. The funds for the initiative came by way of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. It's unclear, however, how much of the initiative has been carried out and how much of that funding has been made available to the GEC.

That $40 million amount is "just a third of what was originally intended," according to March 2018 report from The New York Times that found "the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy."

The report continued:

As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speaks Russian, and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the Russian efforts.

The president has in recent days retaliated against the House Intelligence Committee, saying that there is no reason for Congress to investigate whether his decision-making (which has often been described as deferential to Russian adversaries) has been motivated by financial gain.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said the investigation will “allow us to investigate any credible allegation that financial interests or other interests are driving decision-making of the President or anyone in the administration," adding that the investigation's scope “pertains to any credible allegations of leverage by the Russians or the Saudis or anyone else.”

The president characterized the probe as “Unlimited Presidential Harassment.”

The president has not personally addressed how his administration will counter Russian propaganda efforts.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Questions continue to be raised about the mental and physical health of President Donald Trump.

Slurred or rambling speech has been caught on camera at MAGA rallies and other presidential events.

Keep reading... Show less
Fox News

The House Judiciary Committee voted Friday morning to bring abuse of power and obstruction of Congress articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the House floor for a full vote.

The Democratic House is expected to vote in favor of the articles as well, officially impeaching Trump and putting him on trial in the Republican Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is already sparking concerns about the trial's fairness with comments he made Thursday night on far-Right Fox News host Sean Hannity's show.

Keep reading... Show less
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images // Win McNamee/Getty Images

South Bend Mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg got an awkward shoutout from President Donald Trump, who's nicknamed the candidate "Alfred E. Neuman" after the Mad Magazine character.

It happened at the President's recent rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Keep reading... Show less
Mark Wilson/Getty Images // DC Comics

"Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos..."

Heath Ledger's Joker says this in 2008's The Dark Knight but it could also apply to the presidency of Donald Trump. From defying subpoenas, introducing sweeping policy changes to his own staff through tweets, fostering a revolving-door administration, abruptly deserting allies, and, of course, the ceaseless bullying.

The President and the Clown Prince of Crime have both been agents of some degree of chaos.

So it may not come as a surprise that the Joker joins the campaign of a Trump-like character in the latest issue of Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child.

Keep reading... Show less
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote in favor of articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Friday, teeing up a full House vote for next week.

The move comes after weeks of hearings with Republicans shouting in defense of the President and against the efforts to hold him accountable for soliciting foreign assistance in an election.

Keep reading... Show less
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images; Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has some experience with impeachment. While her husband Bill was President, the Independent Counsel investigation led by Ken Starr probed every aspect of her life before and during her time in the White House as well as her husbands.

While Starr failed to find any criminal wrongdoing by the First Lady, he did after his four year investigation discover her husband's extramarital affair with a White House intern.

Keep reading... Show less