Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out CNN on Tuesday after the network announced they had hired a Sarah Isgur Flores, a former spokeswoman for Jeff Sessions, to serve as a political editor to help oversee coverage of the 2020 presidential campaign.
In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez said it was further evidence that the United States was not a meritocracy and that the network should have instead considered some of the more than 1,000 recently laid off journalists for the position.
“Sorry, didn’t get the latest memo after 1,000 experienced + qualified journalists of all stripes were let go w/o warning a few weeks ago and still looking for work: are we still pretending that hires like these are evidence of a meritocracy?” the freshman congresswoman said in a tweet.
Reps for CNN did not respond to repeated requests for comment from TheWrap over the issue or the specific criticism from Ocasio-Cortez. The AOC attacks were part of broader left-wing criticism that the channel has faced after Politico first broke news of the Isgur Flores hire on Tuesday.
“Pretty dumb for CNN to hire a political editor who has never worked in journalism and has so many conflicts of interest that she can’t cover important political stories, but maybe Trump will respect Jim Acosta now I dunno,” Media Matters for America staffer Simon Maloy said in a tweet.
Even the network’s own Brian Stelter gave the CNN imbroglio top billing in his nightly “Reliable Sources” newsletter.
“In confidential conversations, [CNN employees] are objecting to both her hiring and the way it was revealed through a Politico story, with no internal communication on Tuesday,” Stelter reported.
“I’m really, really worried about this, and concerned about the ethical implications of taking direction on stories from someone I covered when she was an operative in 2016 and who pledged loyalty to one of the candidates in the 2020 race,” one staffer told him. “This seems different and much more problematic to me than your typical political-media revolving door hire.”
Still, the door from politics to media has always been a revolving one. Many of the nation’s biggest media stars including George Stephanopoulos, Tim Russert and Chris Matthews all began their careers as political operatives before making the switch to journalism. Many also might remember Caitlin Conant, currently political director at CBS News, who previously served as a spokeswoman for Sen. Marco Rubio.