CNN’s Campbell Brown Rips Sexism of ‘Diva’ Remark Her Network Disseminated

Campbell Brown, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.orgCNN anchor Campbell Brown criticized the sexism of the "diva" comment about Sarah Palin from a supposed anonymous McCain campaign adviser on Monday’s Election Center program, despite how it was her own network that highlighted this remark. After describing how "it was big news when this story broke over the weekend -- a shocking quote from an adviser to John McCain calling Sarah Palin a ‘diva.’ (correspondents Dana Bash, Peter Hamby, and John King first reported on the anonymous "diva" remark in an October 25 report on CNN.com), Brown decried how it is "a sexist slight, a term that is only applied to women, almost always in a derogatory way."

At the end of her commentary, which led the Election Center program, the CNN anchor attacked the supposed hypocrisy of the McCain campaign and criticized the unnamed McCain campaign official for using the "diva" term: "So, now, for the McCain campaign to be attacking its own candidate in the most overtly sexist way, calling her a ‘diva,’ -- it is beyond ridiculous. Whoever this anonymous adviser is should be ashamed, or, at the very least, have the courage to say it on the record." Since Brown didn’t say anything critical about how her network ran with the comment during her commentary, despite its anonymous nature, one would guess that she isn’t ashamed of CNN’s action in this matter. Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?

Brown began her commentary by outlining the story Bash, Hamby, and King reported on from their unnamed McCain advisers: "You see, apparently, the McCain campaign is frustrated with Palin. They say she is quote, ‘going rogue,’ not following orders, speaking for herself, without running it past their people first. What her people say that she is doing is trying to quote, ‘bust free of the damaging and mismanaged rollout of her candidacy.’ So, the McCain campaign, in its frustration, is now speaking to the media, trying to put her in her place..." It’s odd to conclude, just from using these anonymous sources, that the "McCain campaign is frustrated with Palin" and that it’s "trying to put her in her place."

Later, after ripping the sexism of the "diva" remark, Brown spent the latter half of her commentary pointing out that "what is really pathetic about all of this, frankly, is the hypocrisy." In her view, the media’s unrelenting posture toward Palin has been justified: "...[T]he McCain campaign has accused the media of sexism, and sure, in some cases, questions were raised that were sexist in nature....But, by and large, the questions raised about Sarah Palin, and certainly the questions we raised about her, were about her qualifications and her experience..."

Brown ended her "cutting through the bull" commentary by complimenting Palin: "As someone who urged the campaign early on to free Sarah Palin...I applaud Governor Palin for finally tossing those shackles aside, because, Governor, if it were Mitt Romney, Joe Lieberman, or Tom Ridge standing in your shoes right now, being mismanaged the way you feel you are, I can assure you they would have tapped into their inner divas and tossed those advisers aside a long time ago."

The full transcript of Campbell Brown’s commentary from Monday’s Election Center, which aired one minute into the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program:

CAMPBELL BROWN: But first, cutting through the bull -- it was big news when this story broke over the weekend -- a shocking quote from an adviser to John McCain calling Sarah Palin a ‘diva.’ You see, apparently, the McCain campaign is frustrated with Palin. They say she is quote, ‘going rogue,’ not following orders, speaking for herself, without running it past their people first. What her people say that she is doing is trying to quote, ‘bust free of the damaging and mismanaged rollout of her candidacy.’ So, the McCain campaign, in its frustration, is now speaking to the media, trying to put her in her place, and what this McCain adviser said is that Sarah Palin is a diva, a diva who takes advice from no one, a diva who is playing for her own future here. This is an exact quote from this McCain adviser here: ‘Remember, divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and the end of all wisdom.’

Now, let's just start with the word ‘diva.’ It is obviously a sexist slight, a term that is only applied to women, almost always in a derogatory way. It is usually applied to women who are viewed as overly ambitious. It is applied to demanding women, to women who follow their own path. There's really no equivalent word for men, except maybe successful. So, with that in mind, I would applaud Sarah Palin, or any other woman, for that matter, who believes she’s in a damaging situation, who is busting free and embracing her inner diva.

But we’re going to go easy on the Helen Reddy right now, because what is really pathetic about all of this, frankly, is the hypocrisy. Almost from the moment Sarah Palin was announced as McCain’s running mate, the McCain campaign has accused the media of sexism, and sure, in some cases, questions were raised that were sexist in nature, much the same way that Hillary Clinton dealt with sexism during the primary race. We are not yet a society free of sexism, and this will continue to be an issue for all women candidates. But, by and large, the questions raised about Sarah Palin, and certainly the questions we raised about her, were about her qualifications and her experience, and whether or not she’s ready to be president of the United States, the vice president's job.

So, now, for the McCain campaign to be attacking its own candidate in the most overtly sexist way, calling her a ‘diva,’ -- it is beyond ridiculous. Whoever this anonymous adviser is should be ashamed, or, at the very least, have the courage to say it on the record. As someone who urged the campaign early on to free Sarah Palin, so that the American people could have the opportunity to find out who she is and whether or not she is qualified for the job, I applaud Governor Palin for finally tossing those shackles aside, because, Governor, if it were Mitt Romney, Joe Lieberman, or Tom Ridge standing in your shoes right now, being mismanaged the way you feel you are, I can assure you they would have tapped into their inner divas and tossed those advisers aside a long time ago.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center