Madison Square Garden has tapped a high-profile spin doctor to help its chairman, James Dolan, deflect criticism of his use of facial-recognition technology.
Background: James Dolan defends facial-recognition policy as lawyers sue Madison Square Garden owner: ‘Please don’t come’
Dolan hired former Trump White House communications director Hope Hicks as a consultant at what’s been dubbed the World’s Most Famous Arena, after it was revealed he used the controversial technology to bar his own critics and foes from the facility, sources reportedly told the New York Post’s Page Six.
An MSG Entertainment
spokesperson did not deny the report, saying, “We work with a variety of consultants.”
The New York Post said it had reached out to Hicks for comment.
Hicks, 34, resigned from the Trump administration in 2018 to work as Fox News parent Fox Corp.’s
chief communications executive before returning to the White House as an adviser right before the pandemic.
From the archives (June 2019): Trump’s lawyers blocked Hope Hicks from answering more than 150 times in House hearing
It was unclear how long she had been advising Dolan, a major Trump donor, according to Albany Business Review.
Dolan has come under fire for removing attorneys involved in litigation against his company from the Garden and Radio City Music Hall, and disinviting to an NHL Pride event a lawmaker critical of his use of the technology.
State Attorney General Letitia James claimed Dolan’s use of the technology might violate state anti-discrimination laws, and the New York State Liquor Authority was investigating the issue.
Dolan fired back at critics by threatening to not sell alcohol at a future New York Rangers game as a protest. (Madison Square Gardens Sports
owns the NHL team as well as the NBA’s New York Knicks.)
“What we’re gonna do, right, is we’re gonna pick a night, maybe a Rangers game, and we’re gonna shut down all the liquor and alcohol in the building,” Dolan said in an interview on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York.”
“This isn’t gonna bother me because I’ve been sober 29 years,” said the 67-year-old Dolan. “I don’t need the liquor.”
Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal has called for the NBA and NHL to sanction the billionaire owner as state lawmakers in Albany considered a law that would make his retaliation tactics illegal.