Thursday, May 20, 2010

Campbell Brown Out As CNN Anchor

Campbell Brown has always been a class act. Her coverage of Hurricane Katrina won her an Emmy while at NBC. However, her switch to CNN to become an anchor has become a dismal failure, and Brown gracefully resigned due to very low ratings and issues that forced her to compete with entertainers rather than true journalists.

The 41 year old reporter was born in Ferriday, Louisiana in 1968, so her passion covering the Hurricane Katrina disaster in her own native backyard was indeed heartfelt. However, being the daughter of a former Democratic State senator, may have brought some bias to her political reporting. During 2008, the McCain Campaign was very upset at Brown over some of her reporting for CNN. And, even worse, Brown likely was forced by competition from FOX's Bill O'Reilly and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann to bring some sense of attitude to the anchor job which was far out of character for her. Brown likely quickly tired of this forced role, and probably wants CNN to find a better fit for that role. Brown was never a pitbull like an O'Reilly or an Olbermann, but seemed forced into that role that just wasn't her.

Brown added in an interview that, "Shedding my journalistic skin to inhabit the kind of persona that might coexist in that lineup is impossible for me. It is not who I am or who I want to be, nor is it who CNN asked me to be at any point".

Brown's show only averaged around 591,000 viewers, while O'Reilly drew in a far larger audience of 3.34 million. Even Olbermann draws in around 1 million viewers. The ratings prove that the more outlandish the personality, the bigger the audience draw. Good guys come up last place when outrageous entertainment replaces serious journalism.

O'Reilly and Olbermann's nature is to act like insult comics commenting on the news. It's a shtick act much like having a Don Rickles read the news. But, for a serious journalist like a Campbell Brown, it just isn't what she does, and having to compete with those others is a completely forced act. O'Reilly and Olbermann may get their facts wrong sometimes, but that's because they're mostly entertainers, and lastly journalists. Campbell Brown was never an entertainer, but always a journalist.

You have to admire Brown's courage here. She is sacrificing considerable income to honor journalistic integrity on one hand, while saving her reputation as a serious journalist. But, where she goes from CNN is a big question. At, 41 she has many years to establish a new presence in journalism somewhere.


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