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Gwen Ifil’s Soon to be Published Book Causing Tizzy

The Vice Presidential debate is scheduled for tomorrow evening and with expectations low on Sarah Palin (who I think will likely do quite well in the debates due to those lower expectations), Michelle Malkin has questioned the moderator's impartiality.  Gwen Ifil, of PBS, has a book coming out called "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama".  The book purportedly is more than just a discussion of Obama but of many black politicians and is due to be published on inauguration day.  Ifil's agent/publicist or someone released the details of the book about two weeks before the McCain camp agreed to the debate but now are claiming that they did not know of this book at the time.  It's easy to miss that sort of information in the fast paced news cycles. 

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Leah
    Oct 01, 2008 @ 15:44:31

    I don’t see how that makes it impossible for her to be an impartial moderator. I do think that having the book come out on inauguration day is taking a gamble, on the off chance McCain wins. (FTR, I’m an Obama fan).

  2. Laura K
    Oct 01, 2008 @ 15:48:42

    >>(who I think will likely do quite well in the debates due to those lower expectations)

    Well, yes. And the whole point of crying foul on Ifill’s book is to lower expectations even further. No way could I limbo beneath the bar Sarah Palin has to step over to “win” this debate, Ifill or no Ifill.

    I find the publication date of Ifill’s book interesting. She cannot know who will win the election, so it would be difficult to do an analysis of the impact race has on the election itself (vs. on the campaign).

  3. Gina Black
    Oct 01, 2008 @ 18:33:48

    Gwen Ifil is a journalist of the highest class. She will do a wonderful job–as she always does.

    No journalist is impartial. The key is to not let personal bias interfere with covering a story–or presiding over a debate.

  4. CHH
    Oct 01, 2008 @ 20:59:06

    I find it hard to believe that McCain’s camp was unaware that Ifil had a book on black politicians coming out within the next few months. I think they were fully aware of it and geniunely did not have an issue with it until they realized Palin was more effective as a SNL joke than a running mate. Of course, they have a problem with it now–this is pre-“debate” damage control to ensure that all Palin has to do is stay upright and not drool and they can say she was successful. If Palin bombs, they can blame the moderator rather than their candidate.

    I don’t see why people are calling this a debate. The candidates aren’t going to addressing each other at all but rather the moderator at the insistence of the McCain camp. It’s more like an oral exam.

  5. Persephone Green
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 00:48:22

    The idea that there are any truly 100% non-partisans in existence is a red herring designed to discredit those who the rightists consider dangerous to their image. All anyone can do is try to be fair and impartial to the best of one’s abilities.

    I believe Ifil announced her intention to have her book published much earlier this year. Why is this just coming up now?

    Hey, Katie Couric! Care to give us some insight into the GOP thought process, interview-style?

    …Oh, wait. Never mind. ;)

  6. Jackie
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 08:46:21

    From Keith Olbermann last night:

    – The book was announced on July 23, 2008, by the Associated Press.

    – The negotiators for the two campaigns agreed on the debate moderators on August 7, 2008.

    – Time magazine printed an article by Gwen Ifill about her book on August 21, 2008.

    – Palin was selected to be John McCain’s running mate on August 29.

    Seriously now — to bring up the fact that Gwen Ifill is writing a book about politics and race “in the age of Obama” two days before the VP election and declare that she therefore can’t be objective is absurd. It’s hardly like Ifill hid the information. No, she didn’t disclose it to the Commission on Presidential Debates. Why should she have? According to this article :

    “Ifill said Obama’s story, which she has yet to write, is only a small part of the book, which discusses how politics in the black community have changed since the civil rights era. Among those subjects is Colin Powell, secretary of state in the Bush administration.”

    Also on her resume, along with her journalistic creds: she moderated the VP debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards.

    Olbermann made two points last night that resonated with me:

    1. If you can argue that Ifill is biased toward Biden because she’s writing a book that talks about Obama, why can’t you argue that she’s biased toward Palin because Ifill is a woman?

    2. It seems like the McCain campaign is pre-blaming Palin losing the debate on extenuating circumstances. Why?

    Ifill’s book is a non-issue that suddenly got turned into an issue. Even Senator McCain has said in a FOX news interview: “I think Gwen Ifill is a professional and I think she will do a completely objective job because she is a highly respected professional.”

    Governor Palin’s performance in tonight’s debate will have nothing to do with the questions the moderator asks her and Senator Biden. It will all come down to the governor’s answers. Period.

  7. Gin
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 09:10:51

    Ifill’s book is becoming part of a disinformation campaign, where the title is abbreviated to “the age of Obama” (omitting everything before that which puts it in context and changes the focus of the book), and people are making oddly confident predictions about the absolutely fantastical amounts of money that Ifill will earn in royalties if Obama wins the election (although I don’t see why there’s any logical connection between increased sales of the book based on Obama’s winning and decreased sales if he loses).

  8. Gina Black
    Oct 03, 2008 @ 10:43:50

    Jane et. al.,

    You might check James Rainey’s article in the LATimes this morning.,0,4286442.story

    It turns out that not only did Ifill do a stunning job, but she did this while injured. There’s a photo of her being helped onto the stage while on crutches. Who knew?

    As I already said, she’s a journalist of the highest class.

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