Chip Smith, co-founder, managing director and CEO of the Glover Park Group and a high-profile Democrat, has been tapped to succeed Michael Regan, the longtime executive vice president, global policy, for 21st Century Fox, and Fox's top D.C. executive.
Regan is leaving effective June 30, the company said last week.
Smith will report to executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch and CEO James Murdoch and will be based in Washington and New York. He will oversee the policy offices in the U.S., Hong Kong, Brussels and the U.K.
Industry sources see Smith's hiring as a way to move the D.C. branding leftward under new Fox corporate leadership. It could also make for some buzzworthy chatter at this weekend's White House Correspondents Association dinner in Washington.
Glover Park, one of the top corporate communications companies in town, is already on retainer with Fox, according to a source.
The move would make sense for another reason, according to multiple sources following the company, one of whom said they had been expecting a veteran Democrat to be named as successor to Regan.
21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch is said want to put his own stamp on the company, which includes wanting to pivot away from its conservative Republican branding in D.C. under James's father, Rupert, toward James's more Democratic lean. "This was all about James wanting to get out from under the shadow of his father," said an industry source. "I was led to expect a fairly dramatic turn in political complexion of the Washington operation.
That would also work if the next president of the United States is named Clinton or Sanders rather than Trump or Cruz (or Kasich or Rubio or Ryan or...).
Smith is former deputy campaign manager for Al Gore's 2000 presidential run and Glover Park is one of the top Democratic political communications shops in town.
One Washington watcher suggested that Fox's purchase of control of the D.C.-based National Geographic Society was another way to jazz up and expand the D.C. brand beyond Fox News.
Not that James Murdoch is expected to morph Fox News into MSNBC given the runaway success that brand has had owning its flavor of "fair and balanced."
Regan still has a big fan in Rupert Murdoch. According to a source, the elder Murdoch circulated an e-mail two weeks ago week singing Regan's praises.