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After being roundly criticized for writing an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on education deform, Campbell Brown made an appearance on Morning Joe this morning to discuss the absolute need for disclosure, though it seems she thinks there is one because this is an election year and people are choosing sides.
Maybe I'm just being naïve, but I always thought journalists should disclose direct connections to organizations which are critical of other organizations that journalist is criticizing. When your spouse sits on the board of StudentsFirstNY and is the top staffer assigned to Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan (who happens to have an extreme view on public education and teachers), I would think it's not simply a question of credibility, but also basic journalistic ethics.
To hear Brown tell it in this segment, the criticism she received for Senor's links to StudentsFirstNY and the Romney campaign were nothing more than some left-wing strategy to undo her Very Important Message. She whines about being unable to talk issues on the merits because someone mean will come along and try and undermine her credibility. She likens this to the current campaign discourse (or lack thereof).
BWAHAHAHAHA. Really? Because running out of the gate by saying unions enable sexual abusers is polite, issues-based discourse? Because Mitt Romney intentionally lying about what President Obama said is an invitation to talk issues on the merits? Because maybe knowing what backchannel associations exist is relevant to framing any debate with anyone?
Does it get any more disingenuous than this? When Sam Stein points out that he discloses his wife's association with the Obama Administration, we get a real dose of Campbell coming to Jesus. Begrudgingly. Brown agrees and admits that she "has no doubt that if she wrote about what she was planting in her garden someone would raise their hand and say she's married to a Romney guy." Dawwww, poor Campbell.
I think perhaps the moment that was most revealing came right after that whine, where she said "You can't win if you don't put it out there all the time."
I'm curious. Brown claims to be a journalist. What does it mean when a journalist says "You can't win"?
Granted, she has been writing op-eds. But even op-eds aren't about winning, are they? Aren't they about issues, and the merits of those issues? If they're about winning, then who is she winning for? What marks the end of the race, the finish line, the win?
Romney winning? StudentsFirstNY and Michelle Rhee privatizing New York schools? What is the "win" for Brown?
In the last kerfuffle online and off, Brown intentionally smeared unions with incendiary rhetoric which was intended to turn readers hard against them, calling them enablers of sexual assault. In fact, it wasn't enough for her to write it in the Wall Street Journal. She also called out AFT President Randi Weingarten on Twitter, asking her why the union protects teachers who commit sexual misconduct.
What she didn't mention was her own testimony the week before.
Not everyone who asked to speak was given a chance to. But Brown had been given the top speaking slot on the “teacher quality” panel with testimony that coupled concern about sex abuse with statistics about low student test scores and college-readiness rates.
The speech she delivered was significantly different.
She had done away with discussion about student performance and added in three examples — complete with names and salacious details — of teachers who have not been fired despite being found to have behaved inappropriately.
After the meeting, Brown told GothamSchools why she had revised her testimony.
“I don’t think it was really what they were planning to focus on,” she said. “But if we’re going to address quality, this certainly falls under it.”
Where was her outrage with StudentsFirstNY, who has their own link to someone accused of sexual assault but who also received the benefit of due process? Evidently due process is fine for Kevin Johnson, but not for any other teacher accused of inappropriate behavior.
It also didn't seem very important to Brown that Kevin Johnson escaped a full investigation because his then-"friend", now-spouse Michelle Rhee actually intervened on Johnson's behalf, vouching for his character as a "good guy." Johnson not only received the benefit of due process, but also the benefit of Rhee's backing. No full investigation, no consequences, nothing really. Why no outrage for that?
I'm not sure what Brown's goal was, other than possibly to rehabilitate her journo credentials or to echo the Romney whine about mean people in politics. But she certainly embodies the typical party-faithful Republican, who points fingers at others for doing what that Republican is doing already.
Disclose away, Campbell. It will certainly neutralize critics upset with your stealth hit, and it will also allow readers to weigh your opinion against your bias, which is what should have been done in the first place.