Officials at CNN have told the Democratic National Committee that their new politics editor, Sarah Isgur, will have no editorial decision-making control over the network’s coverage of the 2020 elections, a Democratic official familiar with those conversations told The Daily Beast.
The assurance mark the latest scaling back of Isgur’s role at CNN amid criticism from Democrats over her hiring. The former top communications aide to Attorney General Jeff Sessions was brought on board the network to help lead its political coverage for the 2020 election. But, since then, CNN assured the DNC that Isgur would not participate in the debates that the network hosted for Democratic candidates vying for the party’s presidential nomination. And after that, the network said Isgur would not be involved in the town halls it hosted for those Democratic candidates.
The Democratic source said the assurance was made directly to Chairman Tom Perez from the top ranks of CNN. Prior to then, several presidential campaigns had reached out to the committee to express their concerns about the possibility that Isgur would play a lead editorial role in the network’s coverage of the campaign.
While it is not uncommon for former political operatives to find jobs at television networks, Isgur’s hiring was highly unusual. Many former politicians and staffers serve as opinion commentators and analysts, but few have made the immediate transition from partisan operative to a non-partisan editorial job overseeing reporters.
CNN has set a number of guidelines for Isgur’s role at CNN. The network pledged that she would not be involved in its handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
After her hiring was made public last week, the network reassured staff that her primary duties will be scheduling the publication of stories, and making sure various stories are highlighted on shows. In a note sent to staff, top editors said she would “play a coordinating role in our daily political coverage—helping to organize and communicate between newsgathering, digital, and television.”
Many of CNN’s own staffers privately raised major concerns about the network’s decision to hire her, noting her lack of editorial experience and long work history as a political operative and government spokesperson.
“It’s extremely demoralizing for everyone here,” one network editorial staffer told The Daily Beast last week.
Still, the network has stood by its decision to hire the long-time partisan operative.
Several the company’s top editors in Washington told staff in an internal note last week that they were “thrilled” to bring her on. And during an editorial call on Friday, CEO Jeff Zucker said the network’s own DOJ beat reporters vouched for CNN to hire her.