Embattled Facebook Adds ‘Conservative’ Star Campbell Brown to News Team

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By Emily Zanotti | 1:09 pm, January 6, 2017

Facebook seems to be angling for a more balanced approach to its news content, picking up former NBC anchor-turned-education activist Campbell Brown for its new “news partnership team.”

Brown announced the move on Facebook Friday morning.

The “news partnership team” is an effort, on the part of Facebook, to interface directly with media organizations looking to optimize their content’s performance on the social network. It’s also part of their effort to combat the spread of “fake news” on its platform.

Facebook posted the News Partnership job opening – for an “experienced news executive” with 20 years in the media business –  in mid-December. Neither Mark Zuckerberg nor Sheryl Sandberg have any hands-on experience in journalism, and Facebook said, at the time, that it was looking to fill that hole.

Brown is an interesting choice for a few reasons, notably that, despite years as an anchor and on-camera personality (she even has an Emmy for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina), Brown has never managed a newsroom and probably has little experience with the production and editing side of media. She will therefore likely be largely an ambassador for Facebook’s efforts to expand into the news segment.

Brown is also considered, if not conservative, conservative-leaning. While at NBC, Brown was known within the news business as an outlier with right-leaning sympathies.

Brown, who grew up in a staunchly Democratic family – he father is James H. Brown, the former Louisiana state senator –  is married to Republican strategist Dan Senor and is herself  a registered Republican. She’s also closely tied to Donald Trump’s incoming Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, having run The 74, an education-reform organization funded largely by the DeVos family.

This likely means Facebook has carefully selected someone not dogged by allegations liberal media bias to interface with the news business. The move may be a smart one: still reeling from accusations that its “trending topics” leaned decidedly leftward, Facebook has struggled to maintain the appearance of neutrality in its enormously influential news delivery mechanisms.

Fears were further stoked when Facebook recently announced that it had partnered with left-leaning organizations such as ABC News to “fact check” viral topics.

Brown says she is “happy” to join the team and anxious to get started.