As far as how the talks came about in the first place, it appears that Isgur, as she was preparing to exit the D.O.J., wasn’t only shopping around for a media gig at CNN. Cable-news sources told me that she also passed through 30 Rock to discuss a potential role at MSNBC, where she met with top newsroom management in recent months. “She had a detailed idea of what she wanted to do,” someone with knowledge of the discussions told me. “She wanted to do something on-air combined with some sort of quasi-management, behind-the-scenes planning kind of work. I think she looked at Dave Chalian and said, I wanna do that.” A second source with direct knowledge of the talks said that such a role “was never under consideration.” This person added, “She was pitching her intimate knowledge of the Mueller probe as a selling point.” (CNN has said that Isgur will have no role in any coverage related to Mueller or the Department of Justice.) MSNBC declined to comment, and CNN didn’t immediately have a comment. Isgur didn’t immediately return an e-mail, but after this article was initially published, a source close to her provided a different characterization, saying that anything related to Mueller was always off the table in Isgur’s conversations with both MSNBC and CNN.
My CNN sources corroborated the general sentiment that’s been conveyed in other news reports about the episode: that journalists at the network are concerned and confused about the hire. “It’s perplexing to a lot of people,” one of them told me. But in a memo to employees on Wednesday, three top CNN managers—Chalian, Washington bureau chief Sam Feist, and senior vice president of newsgathering Virginia Mosley—stood by the decision, saying they were “thrilled” that Isgur was joining the network next month. “With more than two dozen candidates to cover, constant coordination is needed more than ever,” they wrote.