We don’t learn much from Olivia Nuzzi’s profile of the recently departed White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks published over the weekend in New York magazine. Hicks is notoriously tight lipped about juicy information and White House gossip, especially when it pertains to her.
When Hicks refused to speak on the record, Nuzzi had to rely on anonymous sources and other members of the administration. The collage formed by the snippets of anonymous gossip and quotes doesn’t reveal the woman nominally at the article’s center. Instead, it creates a surreal, often unnaturally flattering, portrait of the administration.
The Monster of all Parentheticals
Given that Nuzzi could never quote Hicks directly, she had to rely on other figures to fill out the story for it to have any drama. Nuzzi spends much of the 7000-words describing the messy dating and housing situations of various former campaign staffers, often with very tangential connections to the supposed subject of Nuzzi’s story.
“As it happened, Lewandowski lived in a townhouse he shared with a former Trump-campaign operative who worked at the same government agency as the official Porter dated. (If this thread is starting to feel tangled — it is.)”
It is. It really is.
With sources so unavailable, Nuzzi turned to Piers Morgan, the same man who angrily retweeted a cartoon of himself eating out Trump’s anus, numerous times, to protest the cartoon itself.
“I’ve never known her to deliberately mislead me or lie to me or be anything but completely honest. Which, again, is not a particularly common character trait in Washington,” Morgan told Nuzzi. Totally. I mean, Hicks actually admitted to lying for her boss/daddy figure. And she’s certainly lied for other people in Washington, such as her ex-boyfriend Rob Porter, who left the White House amid a mountain of evidence that he abused several ex-wives. But sure, another middle-aged misogynist likes Hicks because she’s pretty. I mean honest.
Her Favorite Emoji
Nuzzi mentions one of the few times Hicks has gone on the record (and it wasn’t in Nuzzi’s 2016 profile of the woman), for the Forbes “30 Under 30” list. “She said her favorite song was ‘Friends in Low Places’ and her favorite emoji, the ‘see-no-evil’ monkey.”
This is actually one of the most interesting and revealing parts of the entire story, especially since it is one of the only times Hicks herself is ever quoted. But Nuzzi spends zero time unpacking that Hicks admitted her favorite emoji is the one that means “I’m playing coy” in dating parlance, or “I’m pretending I didn’t see that giant piece of evidence that our president is a lying liar so that I can continue lying for him.”
Trump is a Kind and Paternal Figure (At Least to Hicks)
We all know Trump is a monster who cares about Donald and Donald alone. But Nuzzi does drop a mountain of a quote with no explanation or editorializing. When Hicks entered the Oval Office with her resignation, Trump reportedly told her “he cared about her happiness” and that “hoped she would go make a lot of money.” Then, “the president added something else: ‘I’m sorry for everything you’ve been through.’”
Is he, though? Is he really? This is a juicy quote that Nuzzi chooses to drop and run away from. It could be true, he could genuinely care about Hicks. But that stands in stark contrast from his attitude toward everyone around him, including his family.
In a year of his presidency, we learned more than we ever needed to know that Trump is a fundamentally abhorrent leader and person. That doesn’t mean he can’t have complexities, or display an uncharacteristic amount of tenderness toward select individuals. But those complexities need to be parsed alongside his normal public persona, which is irredeemably terrible. They shouldn’t be sprinkled throughout a glorified gossip column masquerading as political journalism.
Hicks is More of a Daughter to Trump Than Ivanka
Nuzzi contrasts Hicks and Trump’s close relationship with his actual father-daughter relationship with Ivanka (who, as we all know, he wants to bang). In doing so, she drops one of the most ominous statements of the entire story, then ends the piece a paragraph later.
“Trump also had a different relationship with Hicks than he did with his children, who keep what the source called ‘ironic distance’ from their father. ‘He knows that Ivanka has a separate agenda. Ivanka refers to him as ‘DJT’ just like the boys do, and Ivanka understands that her father is gonna be dead in ten years.’”
Here’s hoping sooner.