Did CNN Really Think It Could Get Away With This?

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On Tuesday, CNN announced that it had hired Sarah Isgur Flores, a career Republican operative and former Trump administration official who appears to have never held a job in journalism, to be a “political editor” helping to coordinate its 2020 coverage. And so far, it appears that the powers at be at CNN are totally oblivious to why this is bad.


On Tuesday, the Daily Beast reported that CNN staffers were justifiably pissed off at the decision, which comes just a month after well over 2,000 journalists lost their jobs in an industry bloodbath of layoffs. “It’s extremely demoralizing for everyone here,” a CNN editorial staffer told The Daily Beast, while another added that it was “very bizarre.”

After additional reports about how disgruntled CNN staffers were at the hire, including from CNN itself, the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday that CNN management sent a note to its politics team defending its hire of Isgur:

In a note to the network’s politics team Wednesday, several top politics editors said that although they were upset that the news leaked out before it could be announced internally, the company was “thrilled” that Isgur was joining next month, saying she “brings a wealth of government, political, communications, and legal experience to our team.” The note, signed by Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist, Newsgathering Vice President Virginia Mosley, and Political Director David Chalian, clarified Isgur’s new role, saying she would spend the first few months “getting to know our systems and our people,” and eventually would “play a coordinating role in our daily political coverage—helping to organize and communicate between newsgathering, digital, and television.” “With more than two dozen candidates to cover, constant coordination is needed more than ever,” it said.

CNN’s Brian Stelter wrote his own report about the disquiet within the network, but he also defended the hire in both a tweet and his newsletter as merely a case of a “political insider” joining the newsroom. “The more viewpoints represented in newsrooms, the better,” he wrote:

Stelter also spoke to CNN executives who defended the hire:

“The notion that she isn’t qualified for this role is absurd,” a source told me Tuesday night. “There are plenty of examples of people going from high profile political jobs to news networks. George Stephanopoulos. Nicolle Wallace. Dana Perino. Tim Russert. And those are anchors with huge platforms at their networks. She is one of more than a dozen people who will be helping coordinate our political coverage. She is highly qualified to do so.”


Conveniently left out of the narrative that Isgur is simply being attacked for her beliefs by Democratic partisans is that she has never held a job in journalism before. Her latest job, per LinkedIn, was as senior counsel to deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. Before that, she was the director of public affairs for the Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions. Before that, she was a deputy campaign manager for Carly Fiorina and worked for both Mitt Romney and Ted Cruz. Moreover, in her high-profile role at DOJ, Isgur defended some of the Trump administration’s most monstrous policies, and she was accused of helping to spread the conspiracy theory surrounding the death of former DNC staffer Seth Rich. She even bashed CNN, repeatedly.

Did CNN think no one would notice?

Nowhere is there anything to indicate the sort of experience one needs not just to be a talking head on the network, but to occupy the role of a “political editor.” The fact that Isgur was hired in spite of this and also in spite of having no experience in the field whatsoever—at a time when so many experienced reporters are struggling to find work—is proof that CNN is less of a news outlet and more of a jobs program for castoffs from the Trump orbit.

News editor, Splinter