CNN has announced it hired former Department of Justice spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores as a political editor to “coordinate political coverage for the 2020 campaign at the network.” This hiring decision is surprising given Isgur’s lack of journalism experience, her conflicts of interest stemming from previous roles in the Trump Justice Department and multiple GOP campaigns, and the fact that she personally pledged loyalty to President Donald Trump. But, additionally, Isgur repeatedly made cable news appearances where she pushed false and highly partisan talking points over the years, raising even more questions about the value of involving her in 2020 campaign coverage.
CNN hires Trump official as political editor
CNN hires Department of Justice spokesperson as political editor. According to Politico, Isgur “will coordinate political coverage for the 2020 campaign at the network.” Politico noted that Isgur has not previously worked as a journalist, which is unusual for the position: “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. Isgur has no experience in news but a long history as a political operative.” [Politico, 2/19/19]
As the Justice Department’s lead spokesperson for then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Isgur pledged loyalty to President Donald Trump. Sessions’ decision to hire Isgur was controversial because she had repeatedly criticized then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign season. According to The Washington Post, “Trump’s advisers knew there was only one way Sessions would be able to hire her: If she kowtowed to Trump.” Satisfying Trump’s overwhelming desire for loyalty, Isgur “told the president she was on board with his agenda and would be honored to serve him.” [The Washington Post, 4/29/18]
Prior to her role at the Justice Department, Isgur worked on multiple GOP campaigns. Isgur served as political director for Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) 2010 campaign for Texas attorney general. In 2012, Isgur advised Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) on his presidential campaign. In 2013-14, she was the deputy communications director for the Republican National Committee. Isgur also served as deputy campaign manager for Carly Fiorina’s 2016 presidential campaign prior to joining the DOJ. [Ballotpedia, accessed 2/20/19]
Isgur has pushed false and highly partisan talking points on cable news
On CNN, Isgur pushed misleading videos to smear Planned Parenthood. The videos were meant to depict Planned Parenthood harvesting organs from live aborted fetuses. Even though the videos were debunked as misleading, Isgur continued to push them, and she criticized nonpartisan fact-checkers for “not checking their facts” on the issue.
SARAH ISGUR: To be clear, Planned Parenthood has gone out and said there is no such video showing an aborted fetus kicking on the table. They say there is a stillborn fetus somewhere else in the video. That is not true. That has been widely discredited, but the left continues to repeat it, including nonpartisan fact-checkers who are not checking their facts. That is an aborted fetus that was kept alive in that metal tray -- to die in that metal tray while kicking for life. So that is ridiculous. It is at minute 5:56, and I think you should show the video before you start saying that it's just widely discredited. That's not true.
Also, Planned Parenthood is not saying this isn't happening. They are not saying that they are not aborting babies alive to harvest their organs. They are not saying that. Instead they are trying to quibble over a video, and yes, it is true that someone is describing how she was told to harvest its brain. That's what is going on. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 9/28/15, via Nexis]
Following the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL, Isgur said it is “extraordinarily hypocritical” for Democrats to call for gun safety regulation when they support abortion rights. She also criticized then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for saying that “someone being investigated by the FBI for links to terror should have their constitutional rights stripped” when “she's been investigated by the FBI for criminal activity.”
SARAH ISGUR: She said that someone being investigated by the FBI for links to terror should have their constitutional rights stripped. But she's been investigated by the FBI for criminal activity -- what constitutional rights does she think should be stripped from her? And I don't think she thinks that any should be, so neither do people who have being wrongly placed on that list either. We are talking about core constitutional rights.
And what I also think it's interesting is that the Democrats, they’re unwilling to apply that same logic when it comes to abortion after 20 weeks. The majority of Americans are against it. But they argue that it's a constitutional right that shouldn’t be infringed even though it's killing thousands of children a year who could live outside the womb of their mother. So, they’re willing to apply that logic to gun control, they’re not willing to apply it to abortion. I think it's extraordinarily hypocritical for Democrats to trust their political talking point when there's been this tragedy that we could look at the underlying causes -- mental health, Islamic extremism, and a deeply evil person. [MSNBC, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, 6/15/16, via Nexis]
On CNN, Isgur said that “liberal policies have trapped people in webs of dependence.” Isgur argued that “we have to land conservative policies in people's lives” because liberal policies “have hurt job creation, all of the things that we talk about so much.” [CNN, New Day, 9/14/15, via Nexis]
While defending Carly Fiorina’s views on climate change, Isgur argued that liberals have destroyed jobs in the name of environmental policies.
CHRIS HAYES (HOST): And I wanted to ask you about his Fiorina’s views on climate change, particularly as the president puts a spotlight on this. I’ll play you a little sound from Carly Fiorina on the issue. Take a listen.
SARAH ISGUR: I think her point is that liberals have been willing to sacrifice jobs, people’s livelihoods, in the name of ideology rather than actually explaining to people what it would take to make a difference. Liberals don’t explain that. All they do is destroy a lot of jobs in order to say they’re doing something. [MSNBC, All In with Chris Hayes, 9/2/15, via Nexis]
On Fox, Isgur defended Trump’s conflicts of interest and relentless attacks on the press.
HOWARD KURTZ (HOST): He did face a lot of negative press, but would you have advised him to rub salt in the wounds of some of these battles with the media?
SARAH ISGUR: Well Donald Trump is a master at creating these narratives and every good narrative needs a bad guy. The press has willingly played in to this bad guy narrative.
Of course, there are always different presumptions of incompetence given to Republicans, but I think also the American people elected a billionaire president. They elected someone who is a current businessperson. This idea that he was suddenly supposed to, you know, shake off all business ties to his own business, that he was never going to appoint someone who he knew through his business ties. That's not what the American people said on Election Day. I think until he starts, as you said, actually taking actions in one direction or another, the media needs to take a deep breath and find a new way to cover him. [Fox News, Media Buzz, 12/4/16, via Nexis]
On MSNBC, Isgur pushed right-wing talking points about Hillary Clinton’s email server and the Bill Clinton-Loretta Lynch tarmac meeting. Isgur also criticized Democrats’ skepticism about Trump’s campaign win and criticism of the Electoral College. “Democrats don't acknowledge that until they just want to pretend that this was taken from them, the sense of entitlement,” she said.
SARAH ISGUR: I think as long as Democrats continue to blame these, you know, very “but-for” causes, let’s even stipulate that the Comey letter did actually affect peoples’ votes at the ends. How did we get the Comey letter? We got the Comey letter because Hillary Clinton decided to have a secret server in her basement, and then Bill Clinton, who now seems to have forgotten how this all came about, had tried to have a secret meeting with Attorney General Lynch, who then had to recuse herself, putting Comey front and center. [MSNBC, All In with Chris Hayes, 12/20/16, via Nexis]
On Fox, Isgur called then-President Barack Obama a “foe to Israel.” She also argued that Democrats will lose support from the Jewish community “if they continue to show their true colors on this, which is that they are deeply anti-Israel and siding with terrorists over Israel.”
ERIC BOLLING (GUEST HOST): Sarah, Barack Obama's legacy: friend or foe to Israel?
ISGUR: Oh, foe to Israel. And in fact, Democrats have lost blue collar workers now and I think they are about to lose the Jewish community as well if they continue to show their true colors on this, which is that they are deeply anti-Israel and siding with terrorists over Israel. That's how anti-Israel they have become. This was [an] insane vote to abstain from. And if we actually find out that they were working with other countries to bring this vote in the first place and make sure that it would pass, I think that will be it for the Democratic Party politically in ‘18 when it comes to the Jewish vote. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 12/30/16, via Nexis]