New White House communications director Bill Shine appears to have settled a lawsuit recently that dates back to his time as an executive at Fox News, which alleges that he outed a gay man during a legal battle over a reality show.
A notice of dismissal filed on Aug. 3 with Florida's 9th Circuit Court states that Shine has “resolved all claims” against him in the case, and that the man, Silas Pierce, dismisses “with prejudice all claims against” Shine.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported on the update in the case.
The Hill has reached out to Fox News and the White House for comment.
Pierce sued Fox News, Shine and the estate of late former Fox News head Roger Ailes last year, alleging that they had outed him in order to receive a more favorable settlement in a previous lawsuit tied to Pierce.
Pierce alleged in an amended complaint filed in June in Orange County court that he had reached an agreement with Fox News for a reality show about his real estate business in 2014, but that executives pulled the plug on the deal after learning that he was gay and had a “non-traditional family.”
The production company behind the series, Leftfield Productions, sued Fox News in 2015 for allegedly improperly terminating the series and not paying money owed under the agreement.
“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 alleged in the amended complaint.
Pierce states in the court document that Fox News, under the direction of Ailes and Shine, had “published the private facts” about him they had learned from Leftfield, including that he was homosexual. Pierce was not openly gay.
He also alleged that the network executives had sent lawyers to Florida, where Pierce and his business was located, “in an attempt to dig up damaging information about Pierce and the Business, often harassing or badgering Pierce’s neighbors, friends, family, and current and former customers for information about Pierce, his family, and the Business.”
Pierce’s three sons, who were depicted as his children in the reality show, were in reality his brothers, a “private fact known only to Pierce’s closest family and friends,” the lawsuit states.
He alleged that Shine, under Ailes’ direction, shared the private information about Pierce with “various ‘sock puppet’ media outlets and encouraged those outlets to run stories critical of Leftfield, Pierce, his Business and his family.”
The lawsuit cites past reporting about the “sock puppets,” or third-party media outlets controlled by Fox News but that claim no ties to the network, and that are used to slam critics of the company.
Pierce claims that Ailes, Shine and Fox News shared true but private facts about him not “for reasonable or legitimate business purposes" but "maliciously and with the intent of causing harm to Pierce, his family, and the Business.”
Pierce states in the lawsuit that he had been forced to close his business as a result of the revelations, and now has to work part-time for one of his sons.
Pierce sought a jury trial and an unspecified amount in damages. It’s unclear what he received in the settlement with Shine.
It appears that the case against Ailes's estate is ongoing. The Hill has reached out to representatives for Elizabeth Ailes, the widow of the late executive, for comment.
Shine and Roger Ailes both departed Fox News in 2016 amid numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against Roger Ailes at the network. Female staffers also claimed that Shine helped cover up the alleged sexual harassment.
Roger Ailes repeatedly denied the claims until his death in 2017. Shine has also denied any wrongdoing.