CNN’s announcement that it is hiring former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ spokesperson, Sarah Isgur Flores, has left reporters “up in arms” according to Brian Stelter — host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
Stelter sent out several tweets on Tuesday about Flores’ hiring, saying he was asking CNN executives what her role would be and that several unnamed staffers were upset by the decision.
In an apparent attempt to quell the controversy, Stelter pointed out that various newsrooms have hired individuals who have worked in other administrations and said “the more view points the better.”
Then he seemed to backtrack a little, retweeting a criticism of that defense:
Finally at midnight, CNN Business published an article by Stelter on the hiring of Flores, where he says again that staffers are ‘demoralized’ and want to know what her role will be:
“The reaction has been strong. 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.”
In explaining what Flores’ role will be, Stelter said she has “been on the other side of the fence” and noted that she has no news experience.
“My understanding is that Isgur — who isn’t starting work for a few more weeks — will be joining a group of several political editors who coordinate coverage. This entails managing teams in the field, making decisions about how to frame the day’s biggest campaign stories, etcetera. There is certainly a lot of work to go around, given the crowded Democratic field of presidential candidates and the prospect of Republican primary challengers.
“Isgur has no experience in news,” Politico wrote, “but a long history as a political operative.” Many reporters know her and like her. But she was always on the other side of the fence. The DOJ, for example, engaged in aggressive leak hunts to ferret out reporters’ sources. Soon she’ll be working with those reporters and possibly talking with them about sourcing.”
Stelter cited unnamed reporters who believe it is an ethical breach to hire a former Trump Administration official to help coordinate coverage of 2020 presidential election — which would include coverage of Trump.
A CNN executive pointed out that while Flores’ transition from a government role to a news role is happening quickly, it would not be the first time that a newsroom put a political operative in a news position. ABC News hired a former Clinton Administration official, George Stephanopolous as a political analyst — he is now a news anchor.
The hiring appears to be an attempt by CNN officials to fight allegations that the network is biased in its coverage of President Trump. So far it doesn’t seem to have gone over well.