CNN announced on Tuesday it has hired longtime Republican operative Sarah Isgur as political editor, charged with shaping its 2020 campaign coverage.
According to a CNN spokesperson, Isgur, who most recently worked as the Department of Justice’s main spokesperson under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, will coordinate the network’s political coverage for the 2020 election cycle on TV and on CNN’s website. Isgur starts work next month, and will not be involved in coverage of DOJ. She will occasionally appear on TV.
Isgur’s LinkedIn page indicates she has no journalism experience. She has, however, worked for a variety of right-wing organizations and campaigns, including the Carly Fiorina and Mitt Romney presidential bids, the Republican National Committee, and a Ted Cruz US Senate campaign.
Coming as it does in the wake of a presidential cycle in which the mainstream media’s fixation on Hillary Clinton’s emails (among other issues) was widely criticized, news of Isgur’s hiring sparked concerns about the direction CNN is taking heading into 2020.
> 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
The Washington Post reported that during an early 2017 Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump, Isgur — who was critical of Trump during the 2016 campaign — “kowtowed to Trump” and pledged loyalty to his agenda as a condition of getting the job as Sessions’ spokesperson.
Isgur’s hire was first reported by Politico, which noted that “while it is common for departing administration officials to join cable news networks as analysts or contributors, it is less common for them to oversee news coverage.”
On Tuesday evening, a CNN spokesperson emailed Vox and said they “just wanted to be super clear – Sarah is not leading, overseeing, or running political coverage.”
“She is helping to coordinate coverage across TV and Digital – she is one of several editors,” the spokesperson added, going on to characterize Isgur’s role as making sure that stories are featured on the right shows and articles get posted online at the right time.
Trump’s favorite target for abuse hands the keys to a former administration staffer
Isgur’s new employer is a favorite target of President Trump’s abuse, including as recently as last Friday, when during a press conference he dismissed CNN’s Jim Acosta as “fake news.”
While the network hasn’t commented on its reasons for bringing Isgur aboard, it stands to reason that CNN sees hiring a conservative as a way to push back on the perception that it’s biased against Trump. Unsurprisingly, news of her hire was applauded by at least one prominent right-wing voice.
Hiring a conservative journalist for a political editor role would be one thing. But a dive into Isgur’s social media presence suggests her lack of fitness for her new role goes deeper than mere politics.
Isgur has pushed false claims and conspiracies to demean Democrats
Isgur’s personal Twitter account provides some clues about how she might shape CNN’s coverage. Back in 2013, she took umbrage at the network characterizing a group as “anti-gay” and “anti-abortion.”
The next year, she derisively described her future employer as the “Clinton News Network.”
Isgur was not a fan of Obama, who she compared to Richard Nixon, and blamed him for problems he had nothing to do with.
In 2015 and 2016, Isgur posted tweets comparing abortion to America’s epidemic of gun violence, and pushed Planned Parenthood conspiracy theories that were grounded in misleadingly edited videos.
During the 2016 campaign, Isgur did criticize Trump. In October 2016, she tweeted that Trump’s call to prosecute Hillary Clinton “is a scary and dangerous threat.” But she was even more outspoken in her criticisms of Clinton.
Isgur also claimed “self righteous liberals” who criticize Republicans are “no different than Trump.”
When she was working for Carly Fiorina in October 2015, Isgur made a false claim about job losses during Obama’s first term to attack Clinton.
Isgur also indicated that she thinks concerns about climate change are overblown.
According to her LinkedIn, Isgur started worked as the DOJ’s public affairs director in February 2017. That same month, she posted a tweet attacking “progressives” for being fake feminists.
Around that same time, Isgur pushed a false equivalency to defend Trump’s first iteration of the Muslim ban, criticized journalists for covering Trump’s tweets, attacked reporters for accurately pointing out that Trump spent years pushing a racist conspiracy theory about Obama’s place of birth, and even praised Kellyanne Conway for “showing America what real feminism looks like.”
This is the person CNN is entrusting with coordinating coverage of the 2020 campaign. What could possibly go wrong?