Thursday, October 02, 2008

Gwen Ifill: 'I'm Objective!'

PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill- who will be moderating tonight's Vice-Presidential candidate debate between Democrat and Republican Sarah Palin, has a book scheduled to be released on Inauguration Day. The title? The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Yet despite this, Ifill claims that she will be an objective arbiter of the debate. According to the Associated Press story, Ifill also did not inform the supposedly bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates- the body that chooses debate moderators- of the upcoming book.

Newsbusters has been all over this story, though of course Ifill seems oblivious to any problem. In fact, Ifill has been dismissing criticism by accusing her critics of racism. According to the AP story, Ifill,
... questions why people assume that her book will be favorable toward Obama.

"Do you think they made the same assumptions about Lou Cannon (who is white) when he wrote his book about Reagan?" said Ifill, who is black. Asked if there were racial motives at play, she said, "I don't know what it is. I find it curious."

Well, considering that the title of Ifill's book is "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama", it is pretty plain that Ifill is not exactly a critic of the Obama camnpaign. In addition, the very title clues in the potential reader that Ifill is expecting (and presumable hoping for, since that would increase her sales) an Obama victory in November. I cannot imagine any conservative host who would be allowed by the Democrats to host their debates if said host had a book extolling the virtues of McCain scheduled for publication on Inauguration Day. in addition, the fact that Ifill did not inform the Commission on Presidential Debates that she was planning this book is a big red flag. Journalists, who are responsible for accurately informing the public of the events of the day, have an ethical mandate to reveal conflicts of interest. They are certainly vociferous in exposing any such conflicts in business.

In addition, Ifill's excuse- that the book is posted on the publisher's web site, so people knew about it- does not hold water. I don't think most people check publishers' websites on a regular basis and in any event, it is Ifill's responsibility to come clean about her potential conflict of interest BEFORE accepting the invitation to moderate the debate. And her claim that 'people did not question Lou Cannon's book on REagan' also is a red herring. Cannon was no asked to moderate any Presidential debates, nor did he try to hide his work. As the Power Line crew accurately analyze,
The conflict of interest doesn't arise from her view of Obama; if she favors Obama, she is like countless other journalists including (I suspect) at least some of the whites who will moderate other debates. The conflict arises from Ifill's stake, given the book, in an Obama victory.

Ifill has exposed herself as one more of the army of media types who are desperately hoping for an Obama win in November- and doing everything they can to make that eventuality a reality. She should immediately remove herself from the debate as moderator, if she has any professional ethics. But that would require a conscience- something that few media types seem to have.

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