An Open Letter to CNN’s Campbell Brown

October 10, 2008

Dear Ms. Campbell Brown,

I hope this letter finds you well. I must say that for the most part, I have been impressed with your coverage of this 2008 election process. Though you claim that your show has “no bias” and “no bull,” I have noticed that since the advent of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, the hypocrisy in some of your statements have shown more bias on some issues and double standards on the other. Let us recap a few examples.

Before Governor Palin came on the scene, I recall the controversy over Senator Obama using the term “sweetie” to refer to a female reporter. He said that it’s a habit of his that he had to check. I thought your report was fairly objective until you reached the end of your segment and stated (paraphrasing) “Senator Obama, calling a woman ‘sweetie’ is an absolute no-no.” I thought to myself that you had already accurately covered the story and did not need to add your personal opinion. I was a little annoyed but I figured that would be the end of it. I did not know that a trend of double standards was beginning.

After Governor Pain was selected and spoke at the RNC, you and Gloria Borger were visibly moved and understandably so. I will return back to that night shortly. A few weeks later after Palin’s qualifications were becoming less and less evident, you masterfully grilled republican strategist Tucker Bounds about Palin. At the end of your roasting, you said “Tucker, I’m just gonna give it to you baby. We’ll end it there.” “Baby” vs. “Sweetie”? Is that not a double standard? I just looked at this as “strike 2” on my mental mound and let it go again but I did not realize the worst was yet to come.

On the night of Governor Palin’s RNC speech, on several occasions, you would interrupt the men on the panel with you to explain why a woman could better explain what is going on. Later, you and Ms. Borger took exception at the use of the word “shrill” by one of Senator Reid’s spokespersons. You stated that it was a very condescending term and Senator Reid and his staff should have known that it was a disrespectful term to use towards women. I (as a man I guess) never heard that before but given that you are a woman, I gave you the benefit of the doubt because you have lived this your entire life (although Donna Brazile disagreed with you). It is in this point that you revealed your ultimate hypocrisy.

Recently you reported on the violent language being hurled towards Senator Obama at Senator McCain rallies. You rightfully stated that there were racial slurs as well as terms like “terrorist” and “kill him” being thrown out there and that this language was unacceptable. In your attempt to cover both sides, you then confidently stated that those of us who saw Senator McCain’s use of “That one” in the second presidential debate as racial or racist were completely over-reacting. Ms. Campbell, that revealed an ultimate hypocrisy and misunderstanding of the experiences of many African Americans on your part.

I did not see the use of the word “shrill” as offensive but I respected your opinion and tried to step into your experiences in order to improve my understanding of your experience as a female professional. Do Black people in America not deserve the same attempt from you? All Black people did not see that term as being racist; however, there were many of us (particularly older Black people) who did, like CNN-contributor Michael Baisden. Rather than try to belittle our experiences, you should have conducted a report on why many of us saw it the way we did. That would have been the unbiased thing to do.

With all due respect Ms. Brown, you do not speak for Black America. No one person does, however, it would be better if you worked harder to understand our experience than condemn them. If someone makes a derogatory comment about Muslims while I am at the airport with my Muslim colleague, I may not find the comment offensive, but I could turn around and see her in tears. Is it my job to tell her she’s over reacting or is it my job to dig deeper in an expedition of understanding? The latter should be your job as a journalist. Feelings may not always be right, but because of our experiences, we as humans often cannot help how we feel. Please do not forget that.

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