Washington Post political reporter Ann Kornblut talks to the National Journal about “Sexism in the Media.” In part:

Q: Last week, CNN’s Campbell Brown asked the McCain camp to “end this chauvinistic treatment” of Palin by letting her field more questions from the media. What did you think of that?

Kornblut: I think it’s a really good point. I think the truth is that most professional women, certainly women who’ve been in careers long enough, know they have to be as good as men — and sometimes better, but certainly as good as — and there’s no reason why she shouldn’t answer questions the way any man would, any woman would. If she were running, let’s say, in a Republican primary against other candidates, she’d be forced to answer those questions. The fact that she was kind of picked out of the blue and put on the ticket has meant that they can shield her from some things, like releasing her tax returns or answering questions. But I don’t think that’s an experience that most women in the workplace have — of being shielded and protected because they’re women — and I think that asking her to answer questions the way anyone else would was perfectly legitimate.

“Perfectly legitimate” or… “brutal,” according to McCain spokeswoman Nicole Wallace who is quoted in today’s Washington Post (Howard Kurtz’s column) on this same matter:

“We didn’t expect anyone to treat [Palin] as a cream puff because she’s a girl,” Wallace said. But, she added, “I’m shocked personally at how brutal many of the women in the media have been.” Wallace pointed to CNN anchor Campbell Brown, who urged the campaign to arrange more interviews for Palin and stop treating her “like a delicate flower who will wilt at any moment.”

Wallace’s is a bizarre characterization of Campbell Brown’s recent “Free Sarah Palin” commentary and one that Howard Kurtz lets stand, unremarked upon.

Maybe Kurtz should have cribbed some of this from his Post colleague Kornblut (also from the National Journal Q&A):

The McCain campaign has been a lot more open about using [sexism] as a defense, and I think that they’ve done so at their peril, because at the times when it’s been perceived as just being kind of phony umbrage as opposed to a real complaint, they’ve run the risk of not being taken seriously when there is a real complaint.


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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.