The notoriously anti-Trump CNN is under fire by the left after hiring Jeff Sessions-era Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur to help coordinate political coverage for the 2020 campaign. While some feel the outrage makes sense, others say it’s a prime example of political bias in the media industry.
While many former administration officials and political operatives join news networks as pundits, Isgur’s role of a political editor, as opposed to a typical talking head, sparked massive backlash. The move was criticized by liberal media watchdogs and former Barack Obama staffer Tommy Vietor even said it "gave every Democrat in the country a reason to doubt” CNN’s objectivity.
“My sense is that the CNN viewers and staffers who are so outraged are more angry that Isgur is coming from the GOP, Trump establishment, rather than that she is simply coming from a political partisanship role,” DePauw University professor Jeffrey McCall told Fox News.
While McCall thinks CNN’s decision to hire Isgur is being attacked because she’s a Republican, he agrees that it’s not the best fit despite a need for CNN to expand its political perspectives.
“There just surely were plenty of other people available who could have expanded the range of CNN's political coverage, but who brought solid journalistic credentials to the position,” McCall said. “This sort of hiring of an establishment partisan being hired into establishment journalism is quite ill-advised for the media world. Journalism is supposed to serve a surrogate role for the citizenry and provide non-partisan coverage of politics and public affairs. When people who are clearly partisan parachute into making news decisions, it is no wonder public confidence in media suffers.”
While CNN’s public relations team stayed quiet on the controversy Tuesday, Stelter was forced to clean up the mess in his “Reliable Sources” newsletter, where he reported his colleagues were “objecting to both her hiring and the way it was revealed… with no internal communication.”
After acknowledging the controversy and skepticism, Stelter laid out the argument in favor of hiring Isgur and noted that some of his colleagues describe Isgur as “exceptional person whose political experience will improve CNN's coverage.”
Prior to serving as spokeswoman for Sessions' Justice Department, Isgur worked for prominent Republicans including Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz – all of whom are typically loathed by most far-left CNN loyalists.
Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor told Fox News that “journalism is desperately in need of a 12-step program,” and “the first step is admitting there's a problem” with bias in the media.
“Notice how upset ‘neutral’ journalists get when conservatives get hired anywhere in media. CNN is deservedly criticized for being liberal,” Gainor said. “It hires someone to help address that problem and the media mob forms because journalists don't want to fix it.”
Gainor said the “backstabbing attack” on Isgur by soon-to-be colleagues accomplishes several things.
“It lets conservatives know they are unwelcome in media outlets; it ensures that if they do get hired, they are fired if there is even a hint of an issue and reminds everyone that news is only supposed to be liberal,” Gainor said.
Conservative strategist Chris Barron feels that CNN should embrace the hire, but the liberal media won’t allow the move to be celebrated.
“It is a breath of fresh air at a network that desperately needs it,” Barron told Fox News. “The revolving door between Democratic administrations and the media is a decades-old tradition - and not a single person on the left complains about it. CNN hires one former administration official from a Republican administration and the left goes insane. They truly believe they own the media and that anyone who doesn’t share their liberal world view is an existential threat to journalism.”
CNN has not responded to a request for comment.
CNN appears to be standing by the decision to hire the polarizing Isgur, as an internal memo was leaked to The Daily Beast on Wednesday claiming top editors were “thrilled” she would join the network. Stelter tweeted, “The memo says Igsur ‘brings a wealth of government, political, communications, and legal experience to our team,’" but critics were quick to respond.
Meanwhile, check out some of the initial criticism regarding CNN's newest employee: