The cable news programs have featured one report after another about the domestic abuse allegations against former White House staff secretary Rob Porter for the past week.
The coverage has featured reporters’ best efforts to uncover answers about when Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House lawyer Don McGahn first learned that Porter’s troubled past raised red flags with the FBI and why stories about what occurred following the public reveal of Porter’s sordid history have changed multiple times.
No one is asking a question that is deeper and more personal: When did President Trump and Hope Hicks have the talk?
Profiles of the youngest communication director in White House history, including one earlier this week in Business Insider, have sources, anonymous of course, referring to Hicks, 29, as Trump’s “real daughter.“
While that seems like a slap in the face to Ivanka and the seldom-seen Tiffany, it is meant to describe the role Hicks has played both in the Trump campaign and later in the White House.
Coverage always refers to Hicks as being treated like a member of the first family, supposedly a compliment, but when the coverage of the Porter scandal indicated that Hicks and Porter had been dating, surely that would be a cause for fatherly concern.
It could have just been a few minutes with Trump, who has been on this earth for seven decades and has seen a lot, calling Hicks aside and asking her if Porter had ever done anything questionable with her.
That would have been a fatherly thing to do, even with someone who was not a real daughter. After all, this is a woman who still has not reached her 30th birthday and who has been thrust into the middle of a circus that no one could have anticipated.
A wise fatherly type could have told Hicks to distance herself from the situation and delegate the writing of any statements to someone who does not have a conflict of interest.
Apparently, those conversations never took place and that should surprise no one. After all, Trump’s tweets made it clear that he thinks those awful women are ruining men’s careers with accusations of physical and sexual abuse.
Perhaps someone else should have been the one to offer a helping hand to Hope Hicks.
She certainly could not look to John Kelly or Don McGahn, both of whom were apparently aware of Porter’s history and were willing to overlook it so he could keep his job.
So much for father figures in the White House.
Maybe the advice to steer Hicks out of trouble should have been offered by a woman, someone like the president’s counsel Kellyanne Conway.
Surely a woman would know that even someone as independent and intelligent as Hicks could be at risk if indeed she were having a relationship with a man who was alleged to have abused his former wives.
After hearing Conway on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, it appears she would be no better at offering advice than Trump.
“I’m very close to Hope Hicks and I don’t worry about her in that respect. In the case of Hope, I’ve rarely met someone so strong, with such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts. I didn’t have the presence of mind and the professional capabilities at her age that I see in her every single day.”
When the program’s host Jake Tapper noted that strong women are also victims of abuse, Conway agreed, but noted that Hicks had been coming into work every day without missing a beat.
Abused women do that, too.
If Kellyanne Conway is not the woman to offer Hope Hicks advice, maybe there is another woman who can do so, but in a White House filled with white men it may take a while to find one.
In the era of “Me Too,” the White House appears to remain a fortress of the good old boys network, a remnant of an era where men were men and women had it coming.
And Hope Hicks, like any other young woman who dares to enter the Trump administration, is on her own.