CNN has announced that it has hired Sarah Isgur Flores, a former Trump administration official, as its new political editor. She is charged with overseeing the network’s political coverage over the course of the upcoming election season, according to the Independent.
The kicker: Isgur Flores is a longtime Republican operative with reportedly zero journalism experience.
Isgur Flores, who worked in the Justice Department under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions as chief spokeswoman and senior adviser, had previously worked as communications director for the Republican National Committee. She also worked on the campaigns of former Republican presidential hopefuls Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz.
The Republican-leaning resume of Isgur Flores hasn’t escaped the notice of CNN employees. Appointing a vocal conservative and seasoned political fixer with no experience in journalism to a position in which she will be tasked with overseeing the direction of the network’s political coverage has left some staffers shaken.
“The reaction has been strong,” said the network’s chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter. “CNN employees are concerned, according to numerous people who reached out to me on Tuesday.”
Some of those same employees are even questioning the legality, or at least the morality, of a Trump official of such recent vintage making the jump to covering that same president during the upcoming 2020 election season, which for all intents and purposes is already underway.
“[CNN staffers] 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 added.
A report in the Daily Beast quoted a CNN employee calling the decision to bring on Isgur Flores as “extremely demoralizing for everyone.” Another employee said that his or her co-workers were “generally confused” by the hire, calling the arrival of Isgur Flores to the newsroom as “very bizarre.”
Newly-elected Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) took to Twitter to voice her disappointment with the network hiring Isgur Flores in light of a recent wave of journalists being fired across the industry.
“Sorry, didn’t get the latest memo after 1,000 experienced + qualified journalists of all stripes were let go w/o warning a few weeks ago and still looking for work: are we still pretending that hires like these are evidence of a meritocracy?” AOC tweeted.
To be sure, people leaving high-level government jobs have long had access to a revolving door that allows them to walk right into work with news organizations. But the consternation around Isgur Flores’ hiring has more to do with the fact that most such hires are for positions like analyst or commentator, not as editors, and certainly not as editors of such high rank, especially given her dearth of journalism experience.
“Central problem with CNN hiring Sarah Isgur Flores is it degrades and devalues the work of all the solid journalists who work there. If I were them I’d be livid,” said Adam Blickstein, a former Democratic strategist.