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OK, I know I’m a bit late on getting to this. But after reading Howard Kurtz‘s profile of Campbell Brown last night, I couldn’t help but be a little miffed. With its headline, “At CNN, Taking On the Cable Guys,” the piece had the potential to explore how Brown was going to succeed in a world dominated by ranting men. Instead, we get Kurtz serving up way too many details that have nothing to do with Brown’s journalism.
I have no idea how well Brown covered Katrina or the Bush administration, if she broke any big stories or established herself as an on-screen presence in any way. Instead, Kurtz wants us to know about the state of Brown’s pregnancy and how many Diet Cokes she’s allowed to drink per day. That super-important detail was in paragraph No. 2.
It gets worse from there. We learn Brown’s height in paragraph No. 3. Later in the story, Brown makes a point of talking about the double standards applied to high-profile female journalists particularly Katie Couric. “The emphasis on Katie’s appearance—-I hate it, it’s so frustrating. You don’t hear the same kind of comments about male anchors. You just don’t.”
After Brown admits she doesn’t like covering fluff, Kurtz gives us…(more) fluff. This time, it’s a detailed and almost giggly account of how Brown hooked up with her future husband—-Dan Senor, the then-spokesman for the U.S. civilian authority in Iraq. Why not ask Brown about the potential conflict of interest in having a relationship with one of the mouthpieces of a failed occupation? Why not ask her bosses how they felt about this relationship? Kurtz just gives us the dish on their first dinner together.
In a story that ran in May, Kurtz profiled Charlie Gibson and explored how the ABC news anchor makes decisions on what to run and what not to run. He leads the piece with the fact that Gibson refused to lead his newscast with Jerry Falwell‘s death. In March, Kurtz wrote at length about NBC anchor Brian Williams‘ reporting trip to Iraq. At the end of his piece on Brown, he noted that she admitted to crying “many times” before deciding to go to CNN.
While Brown is nowhere near as important an entity as Williams or Gibson, a real analysis of her journalism would have helped us figure out who she is and whether she has a shot at taking down the No-Spin Zone or not. I thought that was what the story was supposed to be about.