The Stunning Transformation Of Dana Perino - The List (2024)

  • Politics

ByKristeen Cherney

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Throughout the 2000s, Dana Perino has created a name for herself in the broadcast media industry through her regular appearances on cable news shows. Eventually, she landed roles as a contributor and then anchor on Fox News, and she has since expanded out into other areas of political news coverage. Yet while you might know her best for being on Fox News, Perino has held other notable roles in her career, including as a former White House press secretary.


Much of this, like many success stories, is attributed to growing up in a family that supported Perino's interests. While born in Wyoming, Perino grew up near Denver in the 1970s. During this time, both her parents and her sister were all interested in the news, much like herself. This engagement with current events kick-started a long-term career in broadcast journalism, but also led to ventures into other media-related endeavors that have defined Perino's transformation from a country girl to a political pundit.

Dana Perino was born in 1972, and often visited her family in rural Wyoming

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Dana Marie Perino was born in May 1972, in Evanston, a small town in Wyoming. According to Travel Wyoming, the city is best known for its outdoor recreational opportunities, including fishing, hiking, kayaking, and camping. Evanston also encompasses portions of both the Unita Mountains and Bear River. While she and her parents moved to Parker, Colorado shortly after Perino was born, she still visited family in nearby Wyoming throughout her childhood. In speaking with The Tennessean in 2019 about her grandparents' cattle ranch, Perino said, "I remember my grandfather telling me, 'This is the most beautiful country in the world.'"


While Perino later went on to live in urban areas in her adult life, such as Washington, D.C. and New York City, the more rural country life has always stuck with her. In a 2023 interview with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Perino said, "I gravitate toward news in the state, though I find that keeping in touch with family is a great way to know what's going on out there."

Dana Perino knew she wanted a news career early on

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Dana Perino was also exposed to the news as a child, and it was an industry she fell in love with at a young age. In fact, she and the rest of her family enjoyed journalism and watching the news together during the time she grew up in the 1970s. "I found it exciting and became a nerd for news," Perino later told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "When watching news anchors, I would think to myself, 'I want to do that.'" Her parents seemed to nurture this passion, with her father reading news articles with Perino and then discussing different points of view on various topics of the day.


Perino also had ambitions to work in the White House at a young age. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Perino and her family went to Washington, D.C. on a vacation after she had finished first grade. When the family went on a tour of the White House, Perino vowed that she would work there in some capacity in the future. Interestingly, her dream would come true almost 30 years later.

Dana Perino graduated from Colorado State University Pueblo in 1994

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Dana Perino's early exposure to media and politics served her well throughout high school and beyond. In fact, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Perino earned a scholarship that paved her way to attending college, all thanks to national debate and speech team victories.


As such, she went on to attend Colorado State University Pueblo, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications. She also minored in both political science and Spanish. "My experience at CSU Pueblo helped shape me into who I am today, both professionally and personally," Perino said in a statement as part of a press release from her alma mater. Formerly known as the University of Southern Colorado during the time Perino attended, the school itself is relatively small, with 4,000 students, per the same press release. According to IMDb, Perino worked on the school's debate team, as well as a reporter and anchor for their PBS affiliate. Perino went on to attend the University of Illinois Springfield, where she obtained a master's degree in public affairs reporting in 1995.


In 1998, Dana Perino married Peter McMahon

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In what seems like a story of destiny, Dana Perino met her future husband on an airplane. The young communications professional met businessman Peter McMahon on a flight between Denver and Chicago during the summer of 1997 when the two were seated next to each other. On her initial thoughts about McMahon, Dana recalled to Yahoo Lifestyle, "Oh, he's cute, and he's not wearing a wedding ring, and he has a British accent." McMahon also said he had an immediate attraction to Perino, telling the publication how he thought at the time, "I hope I sit beside her." Luckily for McMahon, not only did he get to sit next to Perino, but she also gave him her contact information before they parted ways.


Shortly after that, the couple started a long-distance relationship, with Perino in the U.S. and McMahon working out of the U.K. During this time, Perino was also working in Washington, D.C. McMahon had brought up the idea of marriage with Perino soon after, though Perino herself didn't want to rush into things. Finally, though, she sent McMahon a letter where she expressed her feelings for him, and also wrote, according to Yahoo Lifestyle, "Yes, I will marry you."The two married in 1998, and then lived in the U.K. According to IMDb, Perino and McMahon then moved back to the U.S. after about a year, where they temporarily lived and worked in San Diego, California.

Dana Perino served in the George W. Bush administration after 9/11

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Dana Perino's time in San Diego with husband Peter McMahon was short-lived, as she was called back to Washington, D.C. shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Previously, Perino had worked on Capitol Hill for Colorado Representatives Scott McInnis and then Dan Schaefer.


After 9/11, Perino and McMahon moved to D.C., and this time Perino worked directly with the George W. Bush administration. This first included work in the Department of Justice, where Perino was a press spokesperson, according to White House archives from the administration. She also worked in other capacities within the White House, including the Associate Director of Communications for the administration's Council on Environmental Quality. After this, she served as a special assistant to President Bush, and then Deputy Press Secretary. It would seem that Perino's childhood dream of working at the White House came true. In fact, according to her alma mater, Colorado State University Pueblo, Perino worked there for a total of seven years.


In 2007, Dana Perino became the nation's second female White House press secretary

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In August 2007, the George W. Bush administration announced that Dana Perino would serve as White House Press Secretary. She succeeded Tony Snow in September of that year shortly after his resignation, according to White House archives. Perino's appointment as the Bush administration's fourth press secretary was significant for several reasons. Not only was she elevated to the highest press communications position in the White House, but she was the second woman to ever serve as press secretary, according to Britannica, and she was also the first female Republican to serve in the role (Dee Dee Myers was the nation's first female White House Press Secretary, who served under former President Bill Clinton).


On top of this, Perino was only 35 years old at the time, which some people perceived as inexperienced. As Kevin Brass, an acquaintance of Perino's, wrote for The Austin Chronicle, "Some in the Beltway may grumble at her lack of D.C. experience, but there is little doubt that she's a perfect fit for her new job. She's a robo-spokeswoman, completely unflappable, able to maintain a pleasant smile even as she b****-slaps a reporter who refuses to accept her vague and noncommittal answer. She is a master at refusing to take the bait when reporters fish for a sound bite. Relaxed and confident at the podium, she appears not to possess the sweat gene, an essential gift for a spokesperson."

Dana Perino worked as White House press secretary until 2009

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While Dana Perino worked nearly a year-and-a-half as White House press secretary through the end of George W. Bush's term as president, she accomplished a great deal for the administration both inside and outside of her role. Later, in a 2015 memoir called "And the Good News Is ... Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side," Perino described her time as press secretary in detail. In excerpts reported by Politico, she discussed the physical toll of the job, writing, "The last seven months were the hardest ... I couldn't sleep without a pill, my stomach wanted only bland foods, and I often forgot to eat until my assistant made me order something."


Not only did Perino fulfill her duties as press secretary, but she also wrote in her memoir that she even served in an unexpected role. "On trips ... with a skeletal staff, I doubled as the makeup artist," she wrote. Perino also experienced drama during a press conference in Baghdad in December 2008. At the time, an Iraqi journalist threw a shoe towards President George W. Bush, according to The New York Times. While Bush escaped injury, Perino herself got injured during the chaos that unfolded. "[T]hree photojournalists I'd worked with for years ... told me about a pact they'd made not to release any photographs of my injury — out of respect for me," she later wrote in her memoir.

After the Bush administration, Perino joined Fox News and started her own company

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Dana Perino served as press secretary through the end of George W. Bush's second term. After that, she went back to work in the private sector, where the go-getting communications professional pursued a number of different gigs. First, her experiences working with Republicans at both Capitol Hill and the White House led to a job as a political commentator for Fox News in 2009, according to her official network bio. Since then, Perino has evolved from that role, but her initial gig as a commentator undoubtedly helped her gain attention for both her skills and experience. Aside from Fox News, Perino also worked as a communications strategist. Her experiences led to the founding of her own communications and public relations firm called "Dana Perino and Company."


2009 was a busy year for Perino between her Fox News gig and starting her own communications company. Yet, also during that same year, she co-founded "Minute Mentoring." This mentoring program is for young women and is aimed at helping to develop leadership skills. Set up similarly to speed dating, Minute Mentoring offers sessions where mentees meet with their mentors for what their official website describes as "rapid-fire conversations" and where each mentor "imparts three tips for success to her group of three mentees." In total, the process takes an hour, where mentees talk with each mentor for 10 minutes.

She joined the Broadcasting Board of Governors and took a part-time teaching gig in 2010

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In 2010, then-President Barack Obama appointed Dana Perino to a prestigious position at the Broadcasting Board of Governors. First established as the Voice of America in 1942 during World War II and having since consolidated with other government media branches, the agency's mission is to provide oversight over government-related broadcast news except for military news, according to the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Perino served in her board role until the end of 2012 when her term expired. "I am honored to have been chosen to serve, though I'm more overwhelmed by the friendships I've made," Perino said in a statement to the U.S. Agency for Global Media. "The city of Washington, D.C. could use many more of you working to steer structural and content improvements at the BBG to support its role in spreading freedom of expression and self-determination around the world."


In addition to her appointment to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Perino was also offered a part-time adjunct position at The George Washington University. Here, she joined the school's Strategic Public Relations faculty where she taught classes in political and public affairs communications. "I am looking forward to having an engaging dialogue with students in this dynamic program," Perino said in a press release in July 2010. "While no one has all the answers for managing communications with all of the new ways we talk to one another, this collective group discussion will get us several steps closer to better practices."

In 2011, Dana Perino was hired as an editorial director

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Not only was Dana Perino well-versed in oral communications, but she was also sought after for her skills related to print media. For example, in 2011, the Crown Publishing Group announced that they hired Perino as their editorial director. The conservative publisher stated, per their contract with Perino, that she was responsible for submitting up to eight non-fiction political book projects every year.


Part of the reason why Perino was hired in her role with Crown Publishing was due to her previous work with her former boss' memoir. According to the publisher, Perino had been in charge of communications during the release of George W. Bush's "Decision Points," which was released in 2010. "He's not interested in having a debate about the policies," Perino was quoted by The New York Times as saying after the book's release in November of that year. "There's been plenty of debates about the decisions he has made. Now he's trying to explain what he was going through, and the conditions he was working under." Regardless of how people felt about the former president and his policies, the fact is that "Decision Points" did well and became a New York Times best seller. Perino's work undoubtedly helped her as she pursued future editorial and writing gigs in the publishing world.


Dana Perino became a published author in 2015

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In 2015, Dana Perino made the transition from helping to publish books and publicizing them to writing her own. Her memoir, "And the Good News Is ... Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side" was published in April of that year, and it gave readers an inside look into her time as White House Press Secretary. As Politico previously reported, Perino not only described the physical and mental exhaustion from the job, but she also caused some controversy when she criticized one of the former men who held the post, Scott McClellan. Perino wrote, per Politico, "Despite Scott's hard work and determination, his briefings were unnecessarily heated and often ineffective."


However, Perino has written on other topics besides politics and public service. Among one of her more surprising titles was a 2016 book about her beloved Hungarian Vizsla, Jasper, called "Let Me Tell You About Jasper ... How My Best Friend Became America's Dog." "I didn't set out to make Jasper a star; it just happened, and almost overnight," Perino wrote in the book's introduction. "I wanted to write this book because I'm touched by the human connection we can make with each other through our dogs."

In 2017, Dana Perino began anchoring her own television show

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Nearly a decade earlier, Dana Perino first worked for Fox News as a political commentator after her role as White House press secretary ended in 2009. Since that time, she has risen within the ranks of the network through her roles as co-host and panelist on hits such as Fox's series "The Five."


However, Perino's big break at the network came in 2017, when she received her own television show. "The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino" aired on Fox starting in September of that year, and aired every weekday afternoon until the show's end in 2021, according to IMDb. "I would say in the last couple of years, Fox has asked a lot of its viewers," Perino said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. "And what's amazing is despite all the changes, the viewers have stayed and the network is stronger than ever. It feels like there's a really good vibe right now." While the show ended, Perino's work at Fox hasn't stopped. She currently serves as co-anchor of "America's Newsroom" with Bill Hemmer on weekday mornings, and she has also hosted specials for the network.


Dana Perino received an honorary doctorate in 2023

Dana Perino went to school for both her bachelor's and master's degrees. However, based on her achievements and service, the Board of Governors from her alma mater, Colorado State University Pueblo, decided to award Perino with an honorary doctorate in Human Letters in May 2023. The announcement was made in a January 2023 press release from the school, which also explained that Perino was scheduled to be the commencement speaker that spring. "We are excited to welcome Dana back to CSU Pueblo," the university's president, Timothy Mottet, said in the press release. "Her career has served as an inspiration for our students and she has been an incredible mentor providing opportunities for them to see her studio in New York."


Yet it wasn't just leadership and the governing board of the university that felt Perino was deserving of the honor. Perino's former college roommate, Andrea Aragon, told The Pueblo Chieftain, "She certainly has elevated herself and the status of the university by her success, and so it's a great opportunity for us to honor that and her hard work ... I'm not surprised at all. She was always extremely smart and was a sponge — she could look at something one time and remember it." Perino was indeed honored by the award. She also joked in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) that she was going to make fellow Fox News anchor Greg Gutfeld call her "Doctor Perino."

Dana Perino launched a political podcast in August 2023

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While Dana Perino has been a familiar face on Fox News for more than a decade, it was politics that first got her into the cable news network. Now, as the 2024 presidential election draws near, it seems that Perino is going back to some of her political experience with her own podcast. Aptly called "Perino on Politics," the Fox News Radio show launched in August 2023, and it focuses on the 2024 presidential election.


"Perino on Politics" is a weekly series, with each episode lasting for about 30 minutes. It launched around the same time as the first Republican primary debate, and it is slated to run through the general election in November 2024. Her idea for the podcast, according to Variety, will center on interviews with experts in the field. "I'm going to call friends, someone I trust in politics for their judgment and their knowledge," she said. "I like to ask them, 'Where are we today? What am I missing?'" Listeners interested in tuning in can catch new episodes every Monday, per Fox News Radio.

In September 2023, Dana Perino became a Presidential debate moderator

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Dana Perino's expertise in politics and political messaging took on a new life when she helped moderate the second Republican presidential primary debate in September 2023. Before the debate took place, Perino provided insights on the key opportunity for the seven debate participants to talk more about what their campaigns stood for, rather than discussing current President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. "They all agree about Joe Biden," she told Politico at the time. "The way to have a breakout moment is not about what you're going to say about the current president. It's about how you think that you would be a better president than the one we have now, or the one that we've had before that is running again."


While deemed less chaotic than the first debate, Trump still remained the Republican front-runner afterward, even though he didn't participate in it. At the end of the debate, Perino asked the seven candidates on stage who they would vote out of the race, but none took the bait. "I know they didn't want to actually write down and say who they would vote off the island, but I promise you that their campaigns ... they call us every day and they try and convince us that somebody should be voted off the island," Perino said on Fox News the next day, as reported by The Hill. Even though the candidates didn't answer her question, Perino will undoubtedly keep asking for the information voters want to know as they make decisions for 2024.


The Stunning Transformation Of Dana Perino - The List (2024)
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