WashPost Profile Slams Ex-Reporter Campbell Brown, Now Fighting Teacher Unions: 'Pretty' Know-Nothing?

Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi reported in Tuesday’s paper that former NBC and CNN journalist Campbell Brown found a new calling. “After years as a journalist, steeped in notions of fairness and balance, Brown has transformed into an advocate” – against tenure for teachers.

Since taking on the teachers’ unions apparently makes you a public enemy, the Post and Farhi then lined up Diane Ravitch, a former GOP education bureaucrat-turned-lefty, to trash Campbell Brown as a pretty bubblehead who knows nothing: 

“I have trouble with this issue because it’s so totally illogical,” says Diane Ravitch, an education historian. “It’s hard to understand why anyone thinks taking away teachers’ due-process rights will lead to great teachers in every classroom.”

As for Brown, Ravitch is dismissive: “She is a good media figure because of her looks, but she doesn’t seem to know or understand anything about teaching and why tenure matters. . . . I know it sounds sexist to say that she is pretty, but that makes her telegenic, even if what she has to say is total nonsense.”

If this "sounds-sexist" attack is fair, is the opposite argument fair? Ravitch must make sense, because she's a wrinkly old broad?

Ravitch is the dictionary definition of a liberal -- people who claim to be open-minded, but simply cannot imagine that anyone could possibly disagree with them without being mentally challenged. Brown then isn’t brought along to respond to these bubblehead insults until the very end of the article:

As for Ravitch’s slam, Brown learned long ago to roll with those kind of punches.

“I thought we had moved beyond judging women on their looks and yet, once again, Diane is here to give us an education,” she says. “Sadly, what is missed is that this is not about her or me but rather millions of schoolchildren being denied a decent education. When parents stand up and demand something better, I’m proud to stand with them.”

Farhi also picks other controversies with Brown:

Brown’s effort is funded by . . . well, that’s not clear. An advocate of transparency and full disclosure as a journalist, Brown won’t say who is backing her nonprofit organization.

“I’m interested in full disclosure for people who give money to politicians,” she says. “But I’m not a politician. I’m an advocate. If someone wants to give money to an [advocacy] organization anonymously because they don’t want to take the flak that may come along with that, I respect that.”

Then he insisted a political ad she made was distorted:


Her group eventually raised $100,000 for a TV ad campaign during the city’s mayoral race that asked whether any of the candidates had “the guts to stand up to the teachers’ unions,” which the ad implied had delayed action on 128 cases of misconduct during the preceding five years.

While some teachers accused of misconduct had remained on the job, the ad distorted several aspects of the emotional issue. One is that 33 of them had been fired. The balance were either fined, suspended or transferred for minor, non-criminal complaints. The other was the ad’s implication that the city’s main teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, had impeded the disciplinary process. As the union pointed out, however, under state law, non-criminal complaints against teachers are handled by independent arbitrators. Neither the union nor the mayor had a say in such cases.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy,” says Dick Riley, a UFT spokesman. “A person guilty of sexual misconduct is and should be fired. They are not automatically fired if there is an allegation, or if they are charged. Campbell Brown seems to believe that an accusation is the same as a conviction.”

Earth to the Posties: Since when have you applied this standard to the Catholic Church? That an allegation of sexual abuse is merely an allegation and might be false? From a child?

Farhi then rolled in more teachers' union opposition:

If state laws protected the jobs of sexual miscreants, she reasoned, it also protected many more who are merely ineffective. She started a new organization, the Partnership for Educational Justice, to fight the tenure issue, absorbing the remnants of her first group.

Teachers unions say Brown’s campaign is draconian and will undermine public education and teacher morale rather than improve them. “Stripping teachers of their voice and support will make it harder” to recruit and retain good teachers, says Randi Weingarten, president of the Washington-based American Federation of Teachers. Brown’s suit, she says, “is just about pitting students against teachers.”

Farhi also slipped in that “Brown, whose two sons attend a private religious school, would like to see a broader array of public-school ‘reforms’...” That has never been a problem for President Obama when it comes to addressing public-education issues, at least not for the Post.

Liberal journalists-turned-advocates don't get this kind of treatment, with conservatives brought in to dismiss them as illogical bubbleheads. Take the Post's own Jose Antonio Vargas, now a lauded advocate for amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Or take Ellen DeGeneres -- not a journalist, but an advocate for gay rights (and Obama's reelection). Farhi and the Post couldn't imagine ruining her parade with an opposing viewpoint -- let alone suggest find someone to suggest she's a telegenic moron.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis