Campbell Brown on Sexism and Sarah Palin

By Chris Ariens 

As the mother of an 8-month-old, CNN anchor Campbell Brown can relate to Gov. Sarah Palin. “I love the idea of a mother in the campaign and bringing some of those issues to the forefront,” Brown told TVNewser this morning at the CNN Grill.

But those issues, faced by millions of working mothers across the nation, have special significance for Palin and for Brown. As Palin campaigns, Brown reports, trying to find out more about the GOP VP nominee.

Critics went after Brown Monday night after she pressed McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds about Palin’s qualifications for the VP slot. “Despite what some people have said, there was a recognition from most people that I was doing my job,” Brown says. “She’s new to the political scene. There are a million questions to ask about her. It’s our job.”

Then last night, Brown found herself, in a way, standing up for Palin after Senate majority leader Harry Reid described Palin’s speech as ‘shrill.’ “Several of the women on the panel had a very strong reaction to it,” Brown says. “There are words that set off alarm bells for women.”

Brown’s point? Attacks from democrats could backfire if perceived as sexist. “Just in the same way that many of Clinton’s people charged sexism,” Brown predicts, “I think you’re going to see Republicans in certain cases when she’s attacked, charging sexism.”

For Brown, it’s all just another day at the office. The former NBC News anchor knows it comes with the territory. Motherhood just puts it all in perspective.

“Being a mother has completely changed me,” Brown says. At NBC she was “a travel junkie.” Now, not so much. Brown will travel when necessary for CNN, but says, “it’s killing me” to be away from 8-month-old Eli. [And this is where Brown shows me the photo of Eli, taken just this morning, and emailed by her husband Republican strategist and Fox News analyst Dan Senor] “Dan went home early [from the RNC], because we want one of us to be there,” Brown says.

When it comes to media bashing by the campaigns, Brown says, “Partisans on both sides, at times, use the media as a way to rally people. It’s easy to make us the boogeyman. When that happens it’s usually because they don’t have a valid point to make about anything else. It’s unfair. When we become part of the story it gives us an opportunity to remind people what it is that we do…which is asking tough questions, asking legitimate questions, being persistent, but respectful.”

Last week, during the DNC, the TV news storyline focused on some uncomfortable on-air moments at MSNBC. So how does the CNN gang get along? “In all honesty, it’s easy,” Brown says. “Have you met Wolf Blitzer? (we haven’t) I mean, have you hung out with Anderson?” (we haven’t). It’s just easy. We’re friends. We hang out together when we’re not on the air.”

“We have tried to bring as many voices to the table as possible,” Brown says of CNN. “When you’re watching our coverage you get the full spectrum of opinion, and I think you don’t get that from the competition.”

When CNN hired Brown last summer, there were big plans for her 8pm show. Then the Democratic primary became the story. Brown, a political junkie, knew the new show would have to wait. And it will. And even when it does premiere, Brown says, “I think it’s going to be fairly similar in terms of content — hard news — and we’ll try to stick with the CNN mission which is that diversity of opinion. The name is going to change for the show, but the focus won’t for a while.”