Photo Credit: David S. Holloway/Getty Images for Turner
Do female TV journalists face more pressures than their male counterparts to pull in big ratings in order to justify their anchor roles? (Yes, we're thinking of Katie Couric.) Now, Campbell Brown has announced she'll be voluntarily leaving CNN as anchor of her self-titled primetime news program, citing the fact that she simply didn't draw enough viewers to the network.
Brown, 41, said in a statement, "I knew on the day that I accepted my job at CNN that a ratings victory at 8 p.m. was going to be a formidable challenge. As I have been told over and over, this is the toughest time slot in cable news. That is obviously due to the incredible talents of my 8 p.m. competitors. I have also always marveled whenever a television anchor says that he or she pays no attention to ratings. I’m pretty sure the last time any anchor could honestly ignore ratings was well before I was born. Of course I pay attention to ratings. And simply put, the ratings for my program are not where I would like them to be. It is largely for this reason that I am stepping down as anchor of CNN’s Campbell Brown."
She went on to say, "To be clear: this is my decision, and one that I have been thinking about for some time. As for why, 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. CNN will have to figure out what that is. The 8 p.m. hour in cable news world is currently driven by the indomitable Bill O’Reilly, Nancy Grace and Keith Olbermann. 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.”
CNN president Jon Klein responded, "We want to wish her well as she begins the next phase of her life. We respect her decision to leave."
According to The New York Times, Brown's show was pulling in an average of 591,000 viewers, whereas O'Reilly draws 3.34 million and Grace draws 724,000 at 8 p.m. While the Times calls it "debatable whether Ms. Brown is a cause of CNN’s low ratings or merely a casualty," San Francisco Gate blogger Zennie Abraham trots out the rather sexist opinion that not showing enough leg ultimately let to the attractive anchor's television demise. How about a special investigation into men in journalism who still don't take women seriously?
Do you think Campbell Brown is a compelling news anchor? Chime in below!