CNN announced the recruitment of Sarah Isgur Flores, spokeswoman for Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, to be political editor of the Washington office. Flores is a long-time Republican political officer who previously worked for Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney.
The reaction was strong. CNN employees are worried, according to many people who contacted me on Tuesday. They ask what Isgur's role will be and whether his sudden move from the Trump administration to CNN's newsroom is a violation of ethics.
Several Democratic strategists have severely criticized the movement for CNN. And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about it on Tuesday night, earning thousands of likes and shares. "Sorry," she wrote, "did not receive the last memo after 1,000 experienced + qualified journalists from all parties were fired without warning a few weeks ago and still looking for Work: Are we still saying that hiring like this is proof of a meritocracy? "
One source rejected the suggestion that Isgur was not qualified, calling it "absurd". Scroll down for more details …
What CNN management says
From what I know, Isgur – who does not start working for a few more weeks – will join a group of several political editors who coordinate coverage. It involves managing teams in the field, making decisions on how to frame the biggest campaign stories of the day, and so on. There is certainly a lot of work to be done considering the large number of Democratic presidential candidates and the prospect of leading candidates to Republicans.
What CNN employees are saying
In confidential conversations, they oppose both her hiring and the way she was revealed in a Politico story, with no internal communication on Tuesday.
"We hired a former Trump administration official to help us" guide "the coverage of his reelection," said a disconcerted editor. "Journalists are angry at this."
"It sounds like a disaster," said one of these reporters. "I am really very worried about this and the ethical implications of taking directions on the stories of one of the people I covered when she was active in 2016 and who promised to build loyalty. 39, one of the candidates of the 2020 race. This sounds different and much more problematic for me than your typical rotating door rental of political media. "
Adding to the problem: Employees do not know exactly what their job will involve.
"I'm sure she's a wonderful person, but no one knows what she's going to do," said a staff member in Washington.
Here is the argument in favor of hiring Isgur
I also spoke to CNN executives who defended Isgur's nomination. They described her as an exceptional person whose political experience would improve CNN's coverage.
The fact is that political insiders have been joining newsrooms for decades. Leaders cited examples from the past, such as George Stephanopoulos, who went from Clinton White House to the anchor chair of ABC News. (But Stephanopoulos went much more slowly from politics to journalism and was a political analyst on ABC for several years before becoming a moderator.)
"The idea that she is not qualified for this role is absurd," said a source Tuesday night. George Stephanopolous. Nicolle Wallace. Dana Perino. Tim Russert. And these are anchor points with huge platforms on their networks. She is one of more than a dozen people. which will help coordinate our political coverage. She is highly qualified to do it. "
Some additional details
– According to CNN PR, Isgur will occasionally appear as an analyst.
– She will not participate in the GM's coverage, as she was the DOJ spokeswoman.
– Although most of Tuesday's outrage came from the left, some right-wing people do not trust Isgur because of his association with Sessions, who fell out of favor with Trump and was eventually fired.
– Isgur refused to comment.
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