Gwen Ifill Gets a Snub From the Right

Not yet in print, but already journalist Gwen Ifill is getting trouble for her forthcoming book about black American politicians.

In mid-August, shortly after the Commission on Presidential Debates named Gwen Ifill of PBS as a moderator of the coming vice-presidential event, she wrote an essay in Time magazine that identified her as the author of a coming book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.”

A couple of weeks later, an article in The Washington Post about her moderating duties described the book as focusing on “the Democratic nominee and such up-and-coming black politicians as Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.”

But on the eve of the debate, Ms. Ifill and her book became the fresh object of outrage on conservative talk radio, blogs and cable news after a right-leaning Web site, WND.com, posted an article late Tuesday with the headline, “VP debate moderator Ifill releasing pro-Obama book.”

Isn't it possible for a responsible and professional journalist to remain neutral in a situation such as this? One would certainly hope so. Do we really think that Walter Cronkite or Tim Russert or Anna Quindlen never had a leaning in one direction or another? NYTimes reports.

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Leaning

>Do we really think that Walter Cronkite or Tim Russert or Anna Quindlen never had a leaning in one direction or another?

Sure everyone has a leaning but when someone writes an entire book about someone there is more than a leaning.

If the Ifill as a moderator is OK with you just make sure you could put the shoe on the other foot. You would be fine with a moderator that wrote a book about McCain.

If I

If I can be apolitical as a librarian, Ms. Ifill can be fair as a moderator.

The question is will she. I think she will. I guess I will find out tonight.

What everyone forgets is if

What everyone forgets is if she was writing a book coming out on the swear in date of the president, this is called a PECUNIARY INTEREST. That is it. Fine if she had her leanings, but is she stands to bring in more bucks if Obama is pres. then this is an ACTUAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

As a black woman in an

As a black woman in an overwhelmingly white male profession, I'm betting Gwen has suffered through a lot and won't be cowed by this manufactured outrage. She announced this book before she was selected as a moderator, the GOP had plenty of chance to object beforehand but now it magically becomes an issue a few days before the debate.

As to Bibliofuture's comment, Tom Brokaw is the official liaison between NBC News and the McCain campaign, and he's moderating a debate. I'm sure he'll do fine too.

What the heck ...

What the heck to her skin pigmentation and ovaries have to do with it?

Suffering somehow makes one impartial? As John McCain said at the first debate, "Oh, Please!"

She can be impartial because she is a professional. If she is not a professional we will find out that she cannot be impartial.

As a point of information a Factiva search using the terms Gwen Ifill book returned 80 results, with the oldest that actually mentions the book Ms. Ifill is writing is on September 1st from Time "A Super Political Team" by Richard Stengel.

Our chief political columnist, Joe Klein, went to see Obama at a town hall in North Carolina and talks about what he calls the candidate's "passion gap." Senior editor Amy Sullivan was in South Carolina to profile an African-American first-time delegate who learned about Obama from his book. This week we debut the column of political consultant Mike Murphy, who wrote about Obama's struggles with working-class voters. You'll be able to find Mike's smart commentary on Swampland, our must-read politics blog. We're also featuring a column by Gwen Ifill, senior correspondent for the NewsHour on PBS, on the young black leaders whom Obama has inspired. Gwen, who will be moderating the vice-presidential debate in October, is writing a book on politics and race in the age of Obama. And on top of all that, we have six pages of behind-the-scenes pictures of Obama from Callie Shell--and on this page, a campaign first: Barack Obama's own photographic credit, for a picture he took of Callie. The Senator should keep his day job.

There is no mention of this book before her selection as the moderator noted so I have to assert that your statement about the book being announced before she was selected is false. I welcome any proof you have that it is not.

Err, right...

My point was that she's gone through a lot to get to this point in her career, so she's not going to be flustered by attacks on her credentials. Does that Time article look like the official book announcement to you? Your search skills need refining, because I found an AP Wire piece from July 21 that mentions the book.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/entertainment/2008064108_apapontvtavissmiley.html

So I'm gonna go ahead and label my assertion as "true", if that's ok with you.

OK

Sure it is OK with me, facts trump my erroneous thought any day.

I did a quick Factiva search, but it does include AP articles - I thought.

I'm not sure that it matters what she has gone through in her career - obviously it is not a detriment, but I would think that a brand spanking new J school grad could be objective, and I certain Ms. Ifill can be as well.

Good question

Isn't it possible for a responsible and professional journalist to remain neutral in a situation such as this?

Of course! So, logically, if we switched out Gwen Ifill for, say, Bill O'Reilly, that would be totally cool, right? I'm sure Bill, with his master's in broadcast journalism and years experience interviewing people across the political spectrum, can be "neutral."

I can buy that

I think O'Reilly is capable of being neutral. He's paid large sums to do the exact opposite, but that doesn't automatically make him a one-trick pony. It's like assuming a famous comic actor is incapable of drama.

What I don't understand is the assumption that a book about a particular racial group is automatically also biased to the left.

nice trump...

Ah, the race card. That didn't take long. Actually, it isn't that the book is "about a particular racial group" so much as it is that, according to the Random House website on the book, it "shed(s) new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introduc(es) the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power."

I think we can safely say Ms. Ifill sees Senator Obama in a somewhat positive light, at the very least.

That's really the point here-- no serious person would argue against Ifill's qualifications or experience. Allow me to ask another hypothetical: what if the moderator of this debate had written a positive biography on John McCain?

If Gwen Ifill is so

If Gwen Ifill is so impartial, why did she fail to inform the Commission on Presidential Debates that she was writing the book? Was it because they wouldn't let her if they knew she was doing it? She did a superb job in 2004 during the debate she moderated, but the success of a book she was getting published on inauguration day did not hang in the balance. It looks bad.

Seemed OK to me

Gwen Ifill seemed OK to me. Perhaps Biden got a bit long winded and took the occasional 'last words' when it was not his turn, but all in all it seemed fair.

Still not seeing it

"I think we can safely say Ms. Ifill sees Senator Obama in a somewhat positive light, at the very least.

That's really the point here-- no serious person would argue against Ifill's qualifications or experience. Allow me to ask another hypothetical: what if the moderator of this debate had written a positive biography on John McCain?"

Seeing an individual in a positive light does not mean political bias. I'm very conversative. I agree with very few of Obama's plans. But I'm certainly impressed by his accomplishments and think that his groundbreaking is a very positive thing for the country.

Very few people on either side are partisan enough to insist that you must hate all things about everyone on the other side and refuse to acknowledge anything positive.

And no, I would not be any more suspicious of someone who had written a positive McCain biography.

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