A new trend is happening in the media realm — alumni of the Trump administration are getting hired on as journalists while actual journalists are getting laid off en masse.
The recent hiring of Sarah Isgur — who was once a spokeswoman for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and pledged loyalty to President Trump’s agenda — as a CNN political editor was unorthodox, even for journalists who went into the profession after politics, like former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos (now an ABC anchor).
Yashar Ali, who was once deputy chief of staff for then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (currently California’s governor), tweeted about how the immediate elevation of Isgur to an editorial role was incredibly out of the ordinary — particularly because Isgur was a high-level official for the divisive Trump administration.
“She’s going straight in as a boss. I couldn’t have imagined doing that when I started,” Ali tweeted. “Sarah is transitioning from a highly contentious and controversial office/administration. You can’t just put someone like that in a managerial role. I wouldn’t have dreamed of becoming a California politics editor for example.”
10. Sarah is transitioning from a highly contentious and controversial office/administration. You can't just put someone like that in a managerial role. I wouldn't have dreamed of becoming a California politics editor for example.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) February 22, 2019
Aside from Isgur, former Trump White House press secretary Sean Spicer is also now working as a journalist. Spicer’s inaugural segment for celebrity newsmagazine Extra was a non-combative puff piece about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He also previewed segments featuring White House counsel Kellyanne Conway, and current White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. He said he would move onto other subjects in the near future.
Tonight on #ExtraTV: From White House press secretary to special D.C. correspondent! @seanspicer is with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo & his wife Susan, talking music, #Oscars predictions & more! pic.twitter.com/3jLi7itAzc
— ExtraTV (@extratv) February 20, 2019
“When they pitched this to me, I said, ‘Yeah, I love the idea,’ ” Spicer told The Hollywood Reporter.
“Obviously, we started in my wheelhouse of Republicans, but we hope to make this bipartisan and to offer people an opportunity and a platform to give people a better understanding of who they are as people,” he added.
While Spicer is a correspondent and not an editor, like Isgur, his hire nonetheless stoked outrage on Twitter. The former white House press secretary made a name for himself by lying repeatedly to the press during is daily briefings — most famously about the size of the crowd at President Trump’s inauguration.
“So Sean Spicer is rewarded for having lied to us as Trump’s mouthpiece with a job on Extra? Another solid lesson in morality for the young people of America,” tweeted user @HowRudeAreYou.
“Spicer interviews will probably be just lies since that is what he did in his previous job,” tweeted user @TrishMendoza. “Thanks Extra; no longer watching your show.”
And, of course, former White House communications director Hope Hicks landed a job at Fox in Los Angeles not long after leaving the Trump administration, as the company’s chief communications officer.
Journalists who have been laid off include award-winning reporters at BuzzFeed’s national news desk. Jessica Testa, who was laid off in January, told the New York Times that the layoffs weren’t the result of shoddy work.
“Our work has always, always been celebrated, internally and by readers,” Testa said. “We’ve changed laws, we’ve won awards, we have great traffic.”
HuffPost senior reporter Zach Carter said laid off journalists were a casualty of ad servers like Google and Facebook taking larger and larger shares of ad revenue that should have gone to media companies.
“This isn’t happening because of market inefficiencies or consumer preferences or social value. It’s happening because two very large companies have taken the advertising revenue that journalism outlets rely on and replaced it with nothing,” Carter told the Drexel University Triangle.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.