Trump’s new Communications Director Bill Shine ‘settles lawsuit’ over outing gay man

Donald Trump’s new White House Communications Director is reported to have settled a lawsuit over the outing of a gay man.

Former Fox News executive Bill Shine was in July named as Trump’s fifth Communications Director last month, replacing Hope Hicks.

It was reported this week that Shine appears to have settled a lawsuit from his time at Fox.

Bill Shine (Michael Loccisano/Getty for TIME)

Silas Pierce had sued the Fox News Network for $4.5 million, claiming that Shine outed him as gay during a dispute over a cancelled reality show project.

Shine was named as a defendant in the case alongside Fox and the estate of late Fox boss Roger Ailes.

According to filings, Pierce accused Ailes and Shine sending “lawyers and investigators to Florida in an attempt to dig up damaging information” about him and then “[communicating] those private facts about Pierce to various ‘sock puppet’ media outlets.”

However, according to The Hill and The Hollywood Reporter, Shine was mysteriously let off the hook this week.

A filing on August 3 by Florida’s 9th Circuit Court states that Shine has “resolved all claims” against him, and as a result the court dismissed with prejudice “all claims against [him].”

It is unclear what settlement Shine reached with Pierce, and neither side has commented on the terms.

In its own filings, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, Fox News appears to claim that it is not damaging to out someone as gay.

Bill Shine attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media 2017 (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty for The Hollywood Reporter)

Fox lawyers argued: “There may have been a time when truthfully saying a person was a homosexual was ‘highly offensive to a reasonable person,’ but thankfully, those days have long passed.”

Trump’s new Comms Director was also previously linked to allegations that Fox News execs were anchor Shepard Smith had been told to stay in the closet.

The 2014 report in non-defunct outlet Gawker claimed that Shine “flipped out” when Smith brought his boyfriend to an event and “called a meeting among high-level executives to discuss a plan of action regarding Smith.”

Gawker claimed Shine “carries a reputation for insensitivity toward gay people,” and cited a source who described him as a “major, major homophobe.”

Shine said in response: “Over the past 18 years, we’ve had the privilege of working with Shepard Smith throughout his incredible rise from a field reporter to chief news anchor and his recent promotion to managing editor.

“Throughout his entire career here, Roger Ailes and I have fully supported him in both a professional and personal capacity. We have never asked Shep to discuss or not discuss his private life, and the notion of us having an issue with anyone’s sexuality is not only insulting, but pure fiction.

“We renewed his contract in June 2013 based on this full support as well as his exemplary journalism. He’s the gold standard of this profession and we’re extremely proud to call him the face of our news division.”