'Stunning' News from NYT: Campbell Brown Shifts Towards Commentary

The New York Times has just shocked us with this news: the CNN anchor on Election Center, Campbell Brown, is shifting over to commentary.

This is quite hard to believe since Brown conceals her own views so well that it is impossible to detect the slightest trace of bias on her part. The Times informs us of this most unusual transition:

Campbell Brown said she was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room on Sept. 23, scrolling through BlackBerry messages about Gov. Sarah Palin’s having been cordoned off from reporters at the United Nations, when the thought of drafting an impassioned, on-air commentary seized her.

“I didn’t even have a scrap of paper,” Ms. Brown, the CNN anchor, said on a recent afternoon. “I ripped something out of a magazine.”

Video of the self-described “rant” that she delivered later that night on her show, “Election Center” — the gist was that Ms. Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, should be freed from overcautious and sexist handlers — became an Internet sensation.

Yeah, it will be very unusual to see Campbell Brown drop her veil of utter neutrality. I wonder if the viewing public can ever get used to it.

Yet, after often laboring in relative obscurity since she began hosting “Election Center” in March, Ms. Brown said she was less concerned by any blowback than she was elated at finding a voice and identity for her program — and a means to be heard over the cacophony of prime-time cable news.

Hallelujah!!! Campbell Brown has found a voice! But what voice can that possibly be? Is it conservative or liberal? Republican or Democrat? Gee, Campbell, don't keep us in suspense.

The challenge Ms. Brown faces in her newfound outspokenness, though, is in distinguishing it from the loud advocacy of Mr. Olbermann (who often argues from the left in “special comments”) and Bill O’Reilly (who is typically more comfortable leaning right in his opening “talking points”). CNN, after all, has sought to build a brand for its journalism by positioning itself as objective, which would seem hard to reconcile with Ms. Brown’s increasingly expressing opinions of her own.

Newfound outspokeness? Oh, that's right! Until now, Campbell Brown kept her opinions under wraps so effectively that they were unknown to all. 

In an interview in her CNN office, wearing jeans, her laceless Converse All-Stars tucked beneath a desk as seemingly cluttered as the cable landscape, Ms. Brown went to some pains to try to separate her approach from that of her cable competitors.

“They’re partisans,” she said of Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Olbermann in particular. “You’re not going to see me ever be partisan. I’ll never take a position on a candidate or an issue.”

They're partisans but you, Campbell, you are as pure as the driven slush! Your non-partisan purity shall remain eternally virginal, unsullied by the slightest hint of bias. 

As evidence that her program is more down the middle than might at times be apparent, she argued that rather than attacking Mr. Bounds, she had persisted only in trying to get him to answer her questions.

I think I see the point here. Rather than attack Bounds, she merely badgered him. An important distinction. 

In response to the many viewers who posted messages at cnn.com complaining that her “Free Sarah Palin” monologue was unfair to the McCain campaign, Ms. Brown cited an array of other reports on “Election Center” — many of them by Tom Foreman and Joe Johns under the heading of a “No bias, No bull report card” — that had been skeptical of Senator Barack Obama, Mr. McCain’s Democratic rival.

For example, after showing a clip on Sept. 22 in which Mr. Obama asserted that “if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would have had their Social Security tied up in the stock market,” Mr. Foreman made the following observation: “Well, Campbell, if retirees are afraid John McCain wants to take away their checks as Obama suggested, they need to know that it’s just not true.”

See how unbiased Campbell is? She won't say anything critical of Obama but once in awhile others on her show will criticize him. That's Campbell playing it perfectly down the middle via what others say.

 “As journalists, and certainly for me over the last few years, we’ve gotten overly obsessed with parity, especially when we’re covering politics,” Ms. Brown said. “We kept making sure each candidate got equal time — to the point that it got ridiculous in a way.”

You have no worry, Campbell, about being caught engaging in such "ridiculousness."

“So when you have Candidate A saying the sky is blue, and Candidate B saying it’s a cloudy day, I look outside and I see, well, it’s a cloudy day,” she said. “I should be able to tell my viewers, ‘Candidate A is wrong, Candidate B is right.’ And not have to say, ‘Well, you decide.’ Then it would be like I’m an idiot. And I’d be treating the audience like idiots.”

And by amazing coincidence, Candidate B always seems to be a cloudy day Democrat. 

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P.J. Gladnick's picture