Once among the “blonde wasteland” of Fox News reporters, Heather Nauert has been catapulted from cable-TV anchor to the leading administrative voice of Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
The US President announced on Saturday (AEDT) that the former Fox News reporter and anchor, and current State Department spokeswoman, would replace Nikki Haley as the next US ambassador to the United Nations, further solidifying the close relationship between Mr Trump and the Fox News channel.
“She’s very talented, very smart, very quick, and I think she’s going to be respected by all,” Mr Trump said.
Who is Heather Nauert?
Critics have long asked the same question, given the widespread and longstanding scepticism about Ms Nauert’s qualifications for anything – including news reporting.
In a Washington Post profile, writer Paul Farhi wrote: “Who the heck is Heather Nauert? Why, other than looking like the younger sister of another Heather [Locklear], is she on TV at all?”
Her colleague, Fox News host Tony Snow – who called TV a “blonde wasteland” – also chimed in: “I told her, ‘God made you beautiful. Now you’ve got to make yourself smart’.”
After attending the prestigious Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and working as a correspondent at US ABC News, Nauert landed a role as a breaking news anchor on Mr Trump’s favourite show, Fox and Friends.
She did not specialise in foreign policy or international relations, but gained fame during the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998 as one of the conservative pundits on cable television who took aim at President Bill Clinton.
Despite her controversial reputation, the anchor was plucked by the Trump administration to serve as State Department spokeswoman, serving the department’s former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017.
When Mr Tillerson was fired in March and replaced with Mike Pompeo, Nauert was appointed to replace undersecretary of state Steve Goldstein, who contradicted the White House’s account of Mr Tillerson’s firing.
She was taken aback by her appointment to the role of public diplomacy and public affairs, considered leaving and recommended a colleague for the job, but a White House official told her they wanted her.
Between March and October of 2018 – with only months of government experience behind her – she oversaw public diplomacy in Washington and all of the estimated 257 overseas US embassies and consulates.
Her inexperience was sometimes laid bare, in particular when she cited the D-day landings (or the invasion of Normandy) during World War II as evidence of the longstanding relationship between Washington and Berlin.
“When you talk about Germany, we have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany,” Nauert said.
“Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-day invasion. We obviously have a very long history with government of Germany, and we have a strong relationship with the government.”
Her commentary of the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen and her tourist snap, smiling in the capital city of Riyadh in mid-October hours after Secretary Mike Pompeo questioned officials about then missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, have also raised eyebrows.
“You’re on an official trip to find out the truth about a journalist being killed … not on a holiday,” one Instagram user commented.
In a similar vein, she posted this on her Instagram account during a work trip to Brussels last week.
Nauert’s appointment further solidifies the cosy relationship between Fox News channel and the Trump administration, with former Fox News co-president Bill Shine having joined the White House as deputy chief-of-staff for communications in mid-2018. Mercedes Schlapp, a former Fox contributor, also serves as White House director of strategic communications.