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We've Secretly Replaced Your Spineless Tv Anchors With...

Yesterday on CNN, anchor Campbell Brown went into a self-described rant against the McCain campaign. The occasion was yesterday's now-infamous attempt to bar producers and reporters from accompanying news cameras as Palin met with some world leaders at the United Nations. The attempt, as my colleague Michelle Cottle notes below, was largely successful.

But it also inspired a backlash, ranging from snarky wire story leads to Brown's on-air condemnation. "Tonight I call on the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment," Brown said. "You claim she is ready to be one heart beat away form the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now."

I can't say I agree completely with Brown's analysis. I don't think the McCain campaign is sheltering Palin from the press out of sexism. I think they're sheltering her from the press out of a desperate fear that serious, spontaneous questioning by a panel of journalists would make Palin look clueless and ill-prepared to serve as vice president.

But put that aside. What's noteworthy here, at least to me, is that we've seen Brown do this before. During the Republican convention, she famously grilled McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds over Palin's lack of national security experience. For those who may have forgotten, this was the interview in which Brown asked Bounds to cite just one decision Palin made as commander of the Alaska National Guard. Bounds couldn't answer it--and Brown refused to let him off the hook.

I'm not a close student of CNN's broadcasts. But, as far as I know, Brown is not an avowed, unabahsed liberal like say, Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann. Brown's questioning in these two episodes, certainly, doesn't betray any ideological bias. She's simply demanding answers about qualifications for office. And since the McCain campaign is refusing to provide those answers, she's calling them out on it--which, of course, is precisely what journalists should do.

Here's hoping we see more of Campbell Brown--and maybe an imitator or two--in the weeks to come. 

--Jonathan Cohn