Fox News built a secret team led by a former Trump aide to discredit the company's critics

APNews headlines scroll above the Fox News studios in the News Corporation headquarters building, in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017.
  • Fox Corp has hired a former aide to President Donald Trump to lead a covert team of conservatives with the mission of discrediting Fox’s critics, The New York Times reported.
  • The company hired Raj Shah, a former deputy White House press secretary, last year as a senior vice president.
  • Since then, Shah has hired at least two former conservative media reporters to help him attempt to discredit Fox’s critics, including the left-leaning groups Media Matters and Sleeping Giants.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Fox Corp has hired a former aide to President Donald Trump to lead a covert team of conservatives with the mission of discrediting Fox’s critics, The New York Times’ Ben Smith, reported Sunday.

The company hiredRaj Shah, a former deputy White House press secretary who previously directed opposition research against Hillary Clinton at the Republican National Committee, last year as a senior vice president.

This year, Smith reported, Shah has been building a staff that includes two former writers for the right-wing Washington Free Beacon, Elliott Schwartz and Alex Griswold. Schwartz also previously directed Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign war room.

The team is tasked with attacking and attempting to discredit Fox’s critics, including the left-leaning Media Matters, which regularly reports on Fox, and Sleeping Giants, a social media account that’s attempted to pressure companies to stop advertising on Fox News.

Smith wrote the team’s role is to “defend Fox from criticism from progressive outlets like Media Matters and Sleeping Giants on social media, protect advertising dollars and discredit critics,” according to three sources. It’s unclear what efforts the team has been involved with.

Neither Schwartz nor Griswold, both of whom are active on Twitter, have publicly identified themselves as Fox employees.

There is a well-established revolving door between Fox and the Trump campaign and administration, and Fox Corp has long employed a robust PR team. But it is unusual for a news organisation to have a team responsible for discrediting its critics.

Fox Corp declined Business Insider’s request for comment.

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