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Campbell Brown

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Campbell Brown

Campbell Brown
Brown at the Greater Talent Network’s 30th Anniversary, NYC, May 2, 2012
Born Alma Dale Campbell Brown
(1968-06-14) June 14, 1968
Ferriday, Louisiana, United States[1][2]
Status Married
Education Regis University
Occupation Broadcast journalist
Notable credit(s) Co-anchor of Weekend Today
Anchor of CNN Election Center
Anchor of Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull
Anchor of Campbell Brown
Religion raised Roman Catholic, converted to Judaism
Spouse(s) Peregrine "Pere" Roberts (divorced)
Dan Senor (2006 - present)
Children Eli James Senor (b. December 18, 2007)
Asher Liam Senor (b. April 6, 2009)
Awards Emmy Award

Alma Dale Campbell Brown (born June 14, 1968) is an American television news reporter and anchorwoman. She previously hosted the Campbell Brown Show on CNN and was the former co-anchor of Weekend Today on NBC-TV. Brown won an Emmy Award as part of the NBC-TV team reporting on Hurricane Katrina.[3][4] In 2013 she became an education activist as founder and head of the Parents Transparency Project.

Early life and family

Campbell Brown was born Alma Dale Campbell Brown in Ferriday, Louisiana, the daughter of the former Louisiana Democratic State Senator and Secretary of State James H. Brown Jr., and Brown's first wife, Dale Campbell.[1][2] According to Brown, "Alma Dale" was her grandmother's name, while "Campbell" was her mother's maiden name.[5]

Brown was raised as a Roman Catholic,[6][7] though her father is a Presbyterian. She has two sisters.[8]

Brown grew up in Ferriday, Louisiana, and she attended the Trinity Episcopal Day School. Her family was involved in hunting, politics, and cooking, "It was all about Cajun and tight-knit families and big parties," Brown has said.[9]

She was expelled from the Madeira School for sneaking off campus to go to a party.[10] Brown attended Louisiana State University for two years before graduating from Regis University. After graduation, she spent a year teaching English in Czechoslovakia.[11] in her 2006 wedding announcement in the New York Times, she was described as having "spent her postcollege years as a Colorado ski bum." [9]

On April 2, 2006, Brown married Daniel Samuel Senor, the former chief spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.[8][12] Senor is also a former advisor to Mitt Romney and close associate of Paul Singer (businessman), Republican power broker and charter school supporter.[13] They had met in Iraq in March 2004, when Senor was spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad and Brown was one of the journalists covering his daily news conferences. After Senor returned to Washington in 2004, Brown callled him. "I was wildly, wildly curious about his experience in Iraq," she later said. According to the New York Times, "their first date was a group dinner, with Tom Brokaw and another journalist." Senor and Brown married at the Beaver Creek Chapel in Beaver Creek, Colorado.[9] Brown converted to Judaism, her husband's faith.[6][14][15] Brown had been married before, briefly, to a Washington, D.C., real estate broker.[10] That marriage ended in divorce.[9]

On June 24, 2007, Brown announced on Weekend Today that she and her husband were expecting their first baby.[16] On December 18, 2007, Brown gave birth to their son, Eli James Senor, named after his grandfather, James Senor. In an August 2008 article, Brown addressed charges that her marriage to Senor, who at the time was working as an advisor for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, represented a conflict of interest for her as a journalist. Brown noted that such marriages were commonplace in Washington, with NBC reporters Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell married to a Democratic consultant and Alan Greenspan respectively.[17]

On October 27, 2008, during a guest appearance on The Daily Show, Brown announced her second pregnancy.[18] On April 6, 2009, Brown gave birth to her second son, Asher Liam Senor. She returned from maternity leave on Monday, June 1.[19]


She began her career in local news reporting for KSNT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Topeka, Kansas, and then for WWBT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Richmond, Virginia, and she also reported for WBAL-TV in Baltimore, Maryland, and WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. Brown joined NBC News in 1996. She was later assigned to The Pentagon and she covered the war in Kosovo. Before Weekend Today, she was the White House correspondent for NBC News.

Presidential election coverage in 2000

During the Republican National Convention, and Republican party primary elections. She became the main substitute anchor for Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News.

In March 2006, Brown was named as one of five women who might replace Katie Couric when she left the Today Show. The position ultimately went to Meredith Vieira.

Move to CNN

Brown announced July 22, 2007, on Weekend Today, that she would be leaving NBC News after 11 years to devote time to her family and expected baby. CNN confirmed it had hired Brown, and that Brown would start work for CNN in February 2008 (originally November 2007), filling the spot previously held by Paula Zahn, who left the network. Brown began anchoring CNN Election Center, which ran from February through October 2008.[20] The show was renamed Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull in October 2008, shortly before the election in order to ensure a smooth transition when the election was over. Roland Martin filled in as guest host in April and May 2009 while Brown took maternity leave. When she returned in June 2009, the show was renamed again to simply Campbell Brown.

Interviews during the 2008 election season

On September 1, 2008, Brown conducted a controversial interview with Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, concerning Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Brown questioned Palin's executive experience and asked for examples of decisions Palin had made as the commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard. Bounds did not name an example, but he stated that Palin had more executive experience than Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama. The McCain campaign later accused Brown of anti-Republican/anti-McCain bias, and said she had "gone over the line."[21]


In the face of low ratings, CNN released Brown from her contract. On May 18, 2010, Brown announced that she would be leaving CNN. In a statement that was described as "very heartfelt and candid,"[22] she wrote, "I knew on the day that I accepted my job at CNN that a ratings victory at 8pm was going to be a formidable challenge... due to the incredible talents of my 8pm competitors." Since "the ratings for my program are not where I would like them to be," she wrote, "I am steppping down as anchor of CNN's 'Campbell Brown'." She added, "I could have said, that I am stepping down to spend more time with my children (which I truly want to do). Or that I am leaving to pursue other opportunities (which I also truly want to do). But I have never had much tolerance for others’ spin, so I can’t imagine trying to stomach my own. The simple fact is that not enough people want to watch my program, and I owe it to myself and to CNN to get out of the way so that CNN can try something else.” While praising her cable competitors, “the indomitable Bill O’Reilly, Nancy Grace and Keith Olbermann,” Brown said that “Shedding my own journalistic skin to try to inhabit the kind of persona that might co-exist in that line up is simply impossible for me. It is not who I am or who I want to be; nor is it who CNN asked me to be at any point. This is the right decision for me and I hope it will be a great opportunity for CNN.”[22]

She later told the Los Angeles Times that she had originally hoped that a straight news program like hers could compete successfully against the opinion-driven shows of her competitors, Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann. But she now recognized that “People are drawn to the echo chamber, and they want to have their opinions validated more often than they want to have their opinions challenged.”[23] Olbermann responded by naming Brown as a runner-up in his daily “Worst Person In The World” segment.[24]

Brown's last day at CNN was on July 21, 2010. Beginning on July 22, her 8:00 p.m. prime time slot was filled by a second hour of Rick Sanchez's Rick's List TV program.[25] In October, the show Parker Spitzer debuted at the 8:00 p.m. time slot.

Post-CNN Journalism

After leaving CNN, Brown began writing opinion pieces for publications that included The New York Times,[26][27] The Wall Street Journal,[28] The Daily Beast[29] and Slate.[30] Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol proposed that Brown run for Charles Schumer's Senate seat.[31]

In May 2012, Brown published a New York Times op-ed in which she criticized President Obama for sounding “paternalistic” when he speaks of women. Noting his repeated practice of describing women as “smarter than men,” she commented: “It’s all so tired, the kind of fake praise showered upon those one views as easy to impress.” Brown added that the women of her acquaintance “who are struggling in this economy couldn’t be further from the fictional character of Julia, presented in Mr. Obama’s Web ad, ‘The Life of Julia,’ a silly and embarrassing caricature based on the assumption that women look to government at every meaningful phase of their lives for help.” Brown outlined the lives of relatives of hers who have rescued from business failure by “Friends and family, not government.”[32]

In a June 23, 2012, op-ed, Brown wrote that Planned Parenthood had a “shrinking number of defenders” and had “only itself to blame” for this situation, given that it had “adopted a strategy driven by blind partisanship.” Brown cited the case of GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who despite her crucial support for funding for Planned Parenthood had not won the endorsement of the group, which Collins now called “an arm of the Democratic National Committee.”[33]

Education advocacy

Brown has become an outspoken advocate for school choice and education reform. In June 2013, Brown founded the Parents Transparency Project,[34] a nonprofit watchdog group on behalf of parents seeking information and accountability from the teachers’ unions and New York Department of Education on actions impacting children in schools. The group, working with the New York Daily News,[35] investigated and reported on school employees who were accused of sexual misconduct with children but still kept their jobs. In October 2013, Andy Kroll wrote a piece for Mother Jones describing Brown’s group as a “Sneaky Education Outfit” and charged that while it claimed to be out “to protect kids from predators in the classroom,” its actual agenda might be “union-busting.”[36] Both Kroll and the left leaning group Media Matters represented Brown as having “conflicts of interest” because her husband was also involved in the campaign against teachers unions and tenure.[37]

In a January 2014 op-ed, Brown criticized teachers’ unions for failing to support a bill before Congress that would require more stringent background checks for teachers. Noting that 97 tenured New York City teachers or school employees had been charged with sexual misconduct during the previous five years, she complained that while ordinary employers would exhibit zero tolerance toward such offenders, New York law required an elaborate, expensive process that involves the participation of the teachers’ unions, which “prefer suspensions and fines, and not dismissal, for teachers charged with inappropriate sexual conduct.”[38] United Federation of Teachers vice president Leo Carey disputed Brown’s account of this process and its outcome, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed with Brown, saying that “maybe if you were a serial ax murderer, you might get a slap on the wrist.”[39]

In April 2014, Brown launched a new website,, to influence New York City’s contract talks with the United Federation of Teachers. Brown stated, "We want the Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers to consider the views of parents."[40]

In a June 10, 2014, op-ed, Brown celebrated the Vergara decision, in which California schools were ordered to eliminate seniority, tenure, and teacher-dismissal procedures which were viewed as protecting incompetent teachers at the expense of students. “It would be no surprise to see parents in New York and elsewhere take the cue of the Vergara plaintiffs and take matters into their own hands,” Brown wrote, but added that “It should never have come to this: Students taking on the powerful governments and teachers unions, all to challenge laws that inexplicably and directly lead to a worse public education.”[41]

In a June 24, 2014, op-ed, Brown announced a lawsuit by six students against the state of New York that aimed “to end laws that keep ineffective teachers in the classroom, restrict schools from dismissing them and prioritize seniority over quality when teachers are laid off.” The lawsuit, like the Vergara case, targeted the “last-in, first-out” policy “that forces school districts to base layoffs on years on the job instead of performance in the job”; the tenure arrangement that “requires school administrators to decide whether to give tenure to teachers after just three years”; and the statutes that “make it nearly impossible to dismiss teachers identified as substandard.”[42] In the California case, Superior Court judge Rolf M. Treu had ruled that California’s similar provisions denied students an equal education, and commented that the situation “shocks the conscience.”

Jonathan Chait supported Brown in New York Magazine, writing that “The basic problem is that some proportion of American teachers is terrible at their job and immune to improvement, yet removing them is a practical impossibility.”[43] But Brown’s initiative was criticized severely by a Salon writer,[44] as well as by education writer Diane Ravitch. Who called her “a good media figure because of her looks,” while maintaining that “she doesn’t seem to know or understand anything about teaching and why tenure matters.” Brown replied 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.”[45] After Ravitch’s comments about Brown’s looks were widely criticized, Ravitch defended herself by saying, “I criticism [sic] Campbell Brown for her attacks on a female-dominated profession.”[46]

In a July 21, 2014, op-ed, Brown rejected as “disingenuous” the claim that her New York lawsuit was “an attack on teachers and their rights.” Noting that New York State law “makes it nearly impossible to dismiss teachers who have been identified as ineffective,” and that seniority is the only criterion taken into consideration when teachers are to be laid off, she described these provisions as part of “a system of laws that knowingly undermines success.” She argued that “Seeking good teachers for all does not mean you are somehow going after teachers. It means you are working to end laws that are not in the interests of children.”[47]

In addition to the Parents Transparency Project, Brown also serves on the boards of International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF).[50]

In popular culture

In 2012, Brown performed as a "broadcast journalist" in the play 8.[51]

Brown was parodied by the actress and comedienne Tracey Ullman in her Showtime comedy series Tracey Ullman's State of the Union, and by Kristen Wiig on Saturday Night Live.


  1. ^ a b "Famous Ferridians". The Town of Ferriday. 
  2. ^ a b "Campbell Brown (II)". IMDB. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Nominees for the News and Documentary Emmy Awards". National Television Academy. 
  4. ^ "Dan Senor & Campbell Brown (profile)". Greater Talent Network Speakers Bureau. 
  5. ^ Clehane, Diane (February 26, 2007). "So What Do You Do, Campbell Brown?". Mobile Media News. Retrieved July 25, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b [1]
  7. ^ Interfaith Celebrities: CNN's Intermarried Beauties and E!'s Interfaith Ingenue By Nate Bloom September 6, 2007
  8. ^ a b Brady, Lois Smith (April 9, 2006). "Weddings & Celebrations: Campbell Brown and Dan Senor". New York Times. Retrieved July 24, 2007. 
  9. ^ a b c d Brady, Lois. "WEDDINGS/CELEBRATIONS: VOWS; Campbell Brown and Dan Senor". New York Times. 2014 The New York Times Company. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  10. ^ a b St. John, Warren (November 23, 2003). "A Potential Contender In a Post-Couric Derby". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Anchors & Reporters: Campbell Brown". CNN. Archived from the original on July 11, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2008. 
  12. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (April 2, 2006). "NBC's Campbell Brown Gets Married".  
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Power couple discusses politics, war and marriage". Cleveland Jewish News. October 25, 2007. 
  15. ^ New Jersey Jewish News: "Former CNN anchor recalls journey to Judaism ‘I was not supposed to go without shellfish,’ jokes Campbell Brown" by Robert Wiener November 9, 2011
  16. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (June 25, 2007). "NBC's Campbell Brown to Be a Mom". People. Retrieved July 5, 2007. 
  17. ^ Brown, Campbell. "Confessions of a Romney Wife". 2014 The Slate Group LLC. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "Campbell Brown Pregnant - TVNewser". 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2014-08-03. 
  19. ^ "Campbell Brown Welcomes Baby Asher Liam Senor".  
  20. ^ "Campbell Brown Quietly Begins Her Tenure At CNN". March 31, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2008. 
  21. ^ Brown, Campbell (September 5, 2008). "Brown: Tucker Bounds interview becomes lightning rod". CNN. 
  22. ^ a b "Campbell Brown Leaving CNN". Media Bistro. Media Bistro. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  23. ^ Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  24. ^ "Olbermann SLAMS 'Lame Duck' Campbell Brown"., Inc. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  25. ^ "Rick Sanchez: Rick’s List Moving to 8 PM - TVNewser". 2010-07-12. Retrieved 2014-08-03. 
  26. ^ "Obama: Stop Condescending to Women". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Planned Parenthood’s Self-Destructive Behavior". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Campbell Brown: Teachers Unions Go to Bat for Sexual Predators". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Campbell Brown: Keep Newtown Off the Culture War Battlefield".  
  30. ^ "Confessions of a Romney Wife".  
  31. ^ Shea, Danny. "Bill Kristol: Campbell Brown For Senate". The Huffington Post., Inc. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  32. ^ Campbell, Brown. "Obama: Stop Condescending to Women". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  33. ^ Brown, Campbell. "Planned Parenthood’s Self-Destructive Behavior". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  34. ^ "The Parents' Transparency Project".  
  35. ^ "Sex predators remain in NYC schools thanks to discipline system, group finds".  
  36. ^ Knoll, Andy. "Who's Really Behind Campbell Brown's Sneaky Education Outfit?". Mother Jones. Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  37. ^ Tone, Hilary. "What The Daily Beast Didn't Tell You About Campbell Brown's Campaign Against Teachers Unions". Media Matters for America. Media Matters for America. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  38. ^ Brown, Campbell. "Keeping Sex Predators Out of Schoolrooms". The Wall Street journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  39. ^ "'"Leo Casey, UFT Vice President, Accuses Michael Bloomberg, Campbell Brown Of 'Blood Libel. The Huffington Post., Inc. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  40. ^ Chapman, Ben. "Former CNN journalist launches website to influence city's contract talks with teachers union". New York Daily News. New York Daily News. Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  41. ^ Brown, Campbell. "A historic victory for America’s kids". Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  42. ^ Brown, Campbell. "Why we’re fighting N.Y.’s teacher laws". Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  43. ^ Chait, Jonathan. "Diane Ravitch: Campbell Brown Shouldn’t Worry Her Pretty Little Head About Education Policy". New York Media LLC. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  44. ^ Arana, Gabriel. "Tenure haters’ big delusion: Why Campbell Brown and co. are wrong about teaching". Salon. Salon Media Group, Inc. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  45. ^ Farhi, Paul. "Campbell Brown goes after teacher tenure in transition from journalist to advocate". Washington Post. Washington Post. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  46. ^ Macneal, Caitlin. "'"Diane Ravitch: People Only Listen To Campbell Brown 'Because Of Her Looks. Talking Points Memo. TPM Media LLC. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  47. ^ Brown, Campbell. "Setting the record straight on tenure". Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  48. ^ "Success Academy Charter Schools".  
  49. ^ "Turn Around USA".  
  50. ^ IWMF website
  51. ^ "The Characters".  

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Soledad O'Brien
Weekend Today Co-Anchor with Lester Holt
2003 - July 22, 2007
Succeeded by
Amy Robach (Saturday)
Jenna Wolfe (Sunday)
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