CNN announced Tuesday that they hired a former spokeswoman for Jeff Sessions to serve as a political editor, and the backlash was intense and immediate.
Sarah Isgur Flores, the chief Department of Justice spokeswoman under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a former campaign aide to Carly Fiorina, will help oversee CNN’s 2020 campaign coverage. CNN appears to have a habit of hiring former Obama officials to handle coverage — particularly current anchor and former chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto — but the addition of a Trump administration official led to severe criticism of the network from the left.
Tommy Vietor, a host for “Pod Save America,” complained that the hiring of Flores “gave every Democrat in the country a reason to doubt your objectivity.”
This is absolutely insane @CNNPolitics. Why on earth would you hire a right-wing hack to oversee political coverage in 2020? You just gave every Democrat in the country a reason to doubt your objectivity. https://t.co/bjRKPqAIm6
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) February 19, 2019
CNN media reporter Brian Stelter claimed in his Tuesday night newsletter that CNN employees are concerned as well.
“CNN employees are concerned, according to numerous people who reached out to me on Tuesday. They are asking what Isgur’s role will be and questioning whether her sudden leap from the Trump administration to the CNN newsroom is an ethical breach,” Stelter wrote.
The Daily Beast similarly reported, “CNN staffers are upset and confused about the network’s decision to hire a partisan political operative to oversee its 2020 campaign reporting.”
> Political director of Texans for Ted Cruz in 2009
> A Romney 2012 advisor
> Deputy Comms director for the RNC in 2013/2014
> Carly Fiorina’s 2016 deputy campaign manager
> Spokeswoman for Jeff Sessions
And @CNN‘s just putting her in charge of straight news? https://t.co/ofBv93gC07
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) February 19, 2019
Wonder how CNN’s coverage of immigration and race issues will be affected by JEFF SESSIONS’ FORMER SPOKESWOMAN coordinating their 2020 coverage https://t.co/fbYHLn5Edv
— Elise Foley (@elisefoley) February 19, 2019
Central problem with CNN hiring Sarah Isgur Flores is it degrades & devalues the work of all the solid journalists who work there. If I were them I’d be livid
— Adam Blickstein (@AdamBlickstein) February 19, 2019
OMG @CNN. Really bad call hiring Sarah Isgur Flores, the woman who was Director of Public Affairs under Jeff Sessions, to be political editor in charge of your 2020 coverage. What could you possibly be thinking??? https://t.co/n5HLuSKqxj
— Elizabeth Thorp (@ElizabethEThorp) February 19, 2019
David Rutz, a managing editor for The Washington Free Beacon, argued that the criticism is hypocritical by listing the number of former Democratic officials who now serve in high-profile roles in the news business. For example, ABC’s chief political correspondent George Stephanopoulos served as a senior adviser and communications director in the Bill Clinton White House. (RELATED: CNN Refuses To Back Down On Debunked Trump Tower Story)
Man wait until he hears George W. Bush’s former comms director is chief political correspondent for ABC News.
Oh wait, I’m sorry that would be Bill Clinton’s. Bill Clinton’s former comms director is chief political correspondent at ABC News.https://t.co/K2zlYcpyOb
— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) February 19, 2019
New York Magazine’s Josh Barro also attempted to quell some of the outrage, noting that Flores’ title as “political editor” does not mean she will be the sole person in charge of 2020 coverage. He also slammed the idea that there are too many conservatives in political media.
Also, the idea that newsrooms are suffering from too many conservative voices is… wrong.
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 19, 2019