Trump’s New Communications Director Was Sued for Outing a Gay Man While a Fox News Executive
Bill Shine, Donald Trump’s new communications director, recently settled a lawsuit claiming he outed a gay man when Shine was an executive at Fox News.
Silas Pierce sued Shine, Fox News and the estate of Roger Ailes last year, alleging they nixed a plan to produce a reality show about his real-estate business when they learned he was gay and had a “non-traditional family.” He amended his complaint in June 2017 to allege Shine and Ailes outed him publicly to get a better settlement.
In 2014 Leftfield Productions, the company behind em>American Restoration and Pawn Stars, was working on Estate Sales, a show about two families running estate liquidation businesses which would’ve been the first reality show on the Fox Business Network. Pierce ran one of those businesses, but Fox beganto doubt he was actually married to the woman claiming to be his wife or that he really was the father of nine adopted children.
Leftfield maintained Pierce had guardianship over the boys, who allegedly had been adopted by his deceased parents. But eventually FNN learned he had no legal relationship with them, and was not married to his “wife.” In 2015, three months into production, Fox pulled the plug on the show and demanded a return on its advance. Leftfield filed a $4.5 million lawsuit against the network but Fox countersued, alleged the production company was misrepresenting itself. Brian Gaffney, director of special programming at Fox Business, maintained that the Fox News Network (FNN) “is subject to more scrutiny than other media organizations and any faking, fudging or scripting could become a scandal tainting the FNN brand.”
Despite that high-minded attitude, Pierce (above) claimed Ailes and Bill Shine sent lawyers to his hometown of Maitland, Florida, to “dig up damaging information” about him and his business—harassing his friends, family and clients. He claimed FNN “published the private facts” about him they had learned from Leftfield, including that he was gay.
“In response to Leftfield’s lawsuit FNN, Ailes, and Shine initiated a concerted scheme to discredit and vilify Pierce and his Business in an effort to bolster FNN’s settlement position in the Leftfield lawsuit, destroy Pierce’s reputation and that of the Business, and justify FNN’s improper breach of its contract with Leftfield.”
Pierce maintained the smear campaign forced him to close his business and declare bankruptcy. In his suit he sought damages in excess of $15,000 for “publication of private facts, tortious interference with a business relationship, and breach of contract.” But on August 3 a notice was filed with Florida’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, stating that Shine “resolved all claims” against him in the case, and that Pierce dismissed “with prejudice all claims against” Shine.
The details of the settlement with Bill Shine are not public, but The Hill reports the case against Ailes’s estate is still active.
Shine and Ailes both left Fox News under a cloud in 2016 after numerous allegations of sexual harassment against Ailes, who died in 2017, and claims Shine helped cover up the alleged misconduct. More recently Shine, who took his post with the administration on July 5, has come under fire for banning CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from White House press briefings.