President-elect Joe Biden is elevating to a senior White House role a former public relations guru to disgraced Hollywood mogul and sex offender Harvey Weinstein.
On Friday, Biden’s transition team announced that Anita Dunn, a top member of his 2020 campaign, would be joining the White House as senior adviser to the president. Dunn, who previously served as the chief strategist and White House communications director for President Barack Obama, is considered one of the architects of Biden’s political comeback after early stumbles in the race for the Democrat nomination last year.
“Anita Dunn brings decades of experience managing and winning political and advocacy campaigns and advising our nation’s leaders at the highest levels of government,” the president-elect’s transition team said in a statement announcing the appointment.
While the exact nature of her role remains unclear, it is likely that Dunn will have wide latitude in helping craft the administration’s messaging around domestic and foreign policy issues. Dunn’s background in politics, having worked for Obama and former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, is likely to be a benefit for her new White House post. Her private sector professional experience, however, may be another matter.
In October 2017, Dunn quietly began counseling Weinstein on how to conduct damage control after his predatory behavior toward young Hollywood starlets, such as Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, started to become public. Dunn provided her services pro bono upon the request of a mutual friend, who was well connected in both the entertainment industry and liberal political circles.
After the full extent of Weinstein’s crimes against more than 80 different women came to light, Dunn cut off ties to the movie mogul. She has never, though, fully addressed the context of her work with Weinstein.
Regardless, Dunn’s relationship with Weinstein appears to have had no impact upon her standing with the president-elect.
On the day Biden launched his presidential run in April 2020, Dunn was announced as one of his campaign’s preliminary hires. Since then, Dunn has played a leading role in helping push back on media coverage of Biden’s frequent gaffes. Most notably in June 2019, Dunn emerged as one of the president-elect’s fiercest defenders when he praised the “civility” of two segregationist Democrats with whom he’d worked to oppose busing.
Dunn also drew rebuke from some on the left in March 2020 after it emerged that a #MeToo advocacy group with ties to one of her business partners had refused to publicize sexual harassment allegations made against Biden.
The president-elect’s transition team did not respond to requests for comment on this story.