SLAMMING MCCAIN FOR ‘SEXIST’ PALIN TREATMENT…. For a while, the McCain campaign, its allies, and its surrogates hoped to characterize any legitimate questions about Sarah Palin’s readiness for national office by equating inquiries with misogyny. Last night, CNN’s Campbell Brown decided to turn the tables, arguing that if anyone is demonstrating sexism in the presidential race, it’s the McCain campaign. (via the Jed Report)

For those of you who can’t watch clips from your work computers, Brown told viewers, “[F]rankly, I have had it, and I know a lot of other women out there are with me on this. I have had enough of the sexist treatment of Sarah Palin. It has to end. She was here in New York City today, meeting with world leaders at the U.N. And what did the McCain campaign do? They tried to ban reporters from covering those meetings. And they did ban reporters from asking Gov. Palin any questions.

“Tonight I call on the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment. This woman is from Alaska for crying out loud. She is strong. She is tough. She is confident. And you claim she is ready to be one heartbeat away from the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now. Allow her to show her stuff. Allow her to face down those pesky reporters…. Let her have a real news conference with real questions. By treating Sarah Palin different from the other candidates in this race, you are not showing her the respect she deserves. Free Sarah Palin. Free her from the chauvinistic chains you are binding her with. Sexism in this campaign must come to an end. Sarah Palin has just as much a right to be a real candidate in this race as the men do. So let her act like one.”

There are a couple of interesting angles to this. First, it’s fair to say news outlets are growing increasingly outraged over the absurd efforts to shield Sarah Palin from media scrutiny. Yesterday’s stunt at the U.N. seemed to push some journalists over the edge.

And second, Brown’s point is a compelling one — the McCain campaign is necessarily showing disrespect for Palin, by treating her as if she’s less capable than other male candidates in the same position. McCain and his team are making it clear that they don’t respect Palin, don’t trust her, and don’t believe she’s capable enough for the rigors of, say, a press conference.

Sam Stein concluded, “Critical articles the campaign can handle…. But charges that the campaign is insulting women voters by shielding its vice presidential nominee from the press are powerful and persuasive, especially when they come from a well-known female news anchor.”

I don’t expect Brown’s commentary to affect the McCain campaign’s thinking — they’ll take the hit rather than take the risk — but it’s encouraging to see the backlash anyway.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.