CNN hires former Sessions spokesperson provokes controversy

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.

The hiring of Isgur is also blamed by journalists from other news agencies. Although political assistants have long been in the media and vice versa, this is an abnormally rapid rotation of the so-called "revolving door". And it's even more unusual, because Isgur launches directly into a leadership role.

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

Politico announced Tuesday the appointment of Mr. Isgur. The title said, "The former session spokesperson will join CNN as a political editor." CNN PR confirmed that it would report to Political Director David Chalian but declined to comment.

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.

"Isgur does not have any experience in the news," Politico wrote, "but a long history of political actor." Many journalists know her and like her. But she was still on the other side of the fence. The Ministry of Justice, for example, has embarked on an aggressive leakage hunt to find reporters' sources. Soon, she will work with these reporters and may talk to them about sourcing.

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.

– Vox said she had already criticized CNN and other media on Twitter.

– 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.


– Reba McEntire will help announce the nominees for the 54th ACAC Awards on Wednesday as part of "CBS This Morning …" (Twitter)
– "John Finley has been named executive vice president of development for Fox News, which oversees Fox Nation, OTT's network service launched last fall …" (TVNewser)
– Peter Nicholas of the WSJ joins The Atlantic to become a corresponding W.H. there … (Twitter)
Read more about the information letter "Reliable sources" of Tuesday … And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox …
– Trump's former assistant, Marc Short, who joined CNN as a contributor last summer, has returned to the Trump administration as the vice president's chief of staff. The story of Kaitlan Collins indicates that he "is no longer paid by CNN …" (CNN)

Justice Clarence Thomas Requests Review of Historical Defamation Case

Tammy Kupperman and Sophie Tatum of CNN: "Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday called for a re-examination of a historic precedent of the First Amendment, criticizing the 1964 decision that the Constitution creates a tougher prosecutors for defamation. " Read the rest here …

George re-ups with ABC

"George Stephanopoulos has signed a new four-year contract with ABC News," said Sara Nathan and Oli Coleman, of Page Six. "According to sources, the veteran broadcaster – who has been part of the network since 2002 and who drives both" GMA "and Sunday's show" This Week "- was heavily courted by CBS and CNN at the time. Approaching the end of his last contract.But in the end, he remained on the spot, signing an agreement with ABC worth between $ 15 and $ 18 million a year. "

Knight Foundation devotes $ 300 million to rebuilding local news

Knight has been supporting journalism initiatives for many years. But Tuesday's announcement is a very big increase.

"We are doubling our commitment of $ 300 million over five years for journalism, primarily local journalism," said Jennifer Preston, vice president of journalism at Knight. "We are also using this increase in funds to help us respond to the growing concern over the spread of misinformation and the impact of technology on our information and press and information ecosystem. our democracy. "

According to Preston, "we rely heavily on people, projects and approaches that we believe offer the best chance to help build a future for local news, one community at a time."

There are many beneficiaries, including Report for America, ProPublica, the American Journalism Project, Frontline, NewsMatch, the News Literacy Project, the Solutions Journalism Network, Cortico, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of Information. the press. Complete announcement here.

The McClatchy buyout date …

… was Tuesday. Here's an example of the local impact: "More than half a dozen renowned Kansas City Star reporters have accepted buyouts from the newspaper's parent company," wrote Dan Margolies of KCUR … " Between them, the employees who accepted the buyouts have far exceeded 200 years of combined experience at The Star. "

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