Poor Gwen Ifill

As many of you know, Gwen Ifill, the Managing Editor for PBS’s Washington Week In Review is going to be the moderator of the Vice Presidential debate tomorrow night.

What you may not know is that there is already criticism of her in some corners because she has a book coming out in  January entitled  “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama”.  Does her writing this book mean that she won’t be a good moderator? Does writing the book mean that she’s in Obama’s camp? What can be made of the fact that she interviewed John McCain for Essence Magazine?  Should she have written a book about politics and age in the time of McCain? Can she ask one question before accusations of bias come her way?

As you can see, I’m concerned that serious journalists are in a no-win situation. Just because a political journalist writes a book about the intersection of race and politics doesn’t mean that that journalist can’t be fair when moderating a debate, does it?

8 thoughts on “Poor Gwen Ifill

  1. She has a financial stake an Obama win. It comes out on Ianuguration day. I don’t think a serious journalist would compromise herself/himself that way. She’s serious, but not about Journalism I believe.

  2. This is what I’m trying to understand. What financial stake? She has already been paid, and the subject of the book is NOT Obama, it is about black political structure(s) with the post-Civil Rights Movement generation.

  3. …the book is NOT Obama

    You looking at the right book?

    Per Amazon,

    The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama

    Product Description

    In THE BREAKTHROUGH, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.

    Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, and also covers up-and-coming figures from across the nation. Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the “black enough” conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.

    THE BREAKTHROUGH is a remarkable look at contemporary politics and an essential foundation for understanding the future of American democracy.

    What better day to start flogging a book like that but the day of his Inaugural?

  4. The conflict of interest doesn’t thrill me, but honestly I think the market for that book will be huge either way. That said, I wish someone else were moderating because no matter how the debate goes, the Rs automatically have an excuse that they were mistreated.

    What bothers me is how the McCain folks keep saying “How DARE you ask lil’ ol’ Sarah Palin about big scary topics like Foreign Policy.”

    It reminds me very much of when W was first running for president and a reporter surprised him with some gotcha foreign policy question and he screwed it up.

    And I didn’t mind.

    Indeed, the Gore campaign even put out a statement that Bush wasn’t the president yet and it wasn’t a big deal.

    That was all fine.

    But then the Bush folks started in with the “Why ON EARTH would he be expected to answer questiions like that. How DARE reporters ask that sort of thing?”

    And I was like “Ummm… He IS running for president.”

    And decided Bush was a moron after all.


  5. Bill,
    If the book were coming out in November, I would say that you have a point. But, since the book is coming out in January, the real subject of the book will not change. The subtitle says it….Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Black politics and politicians have changed in the post-Civil Rights Movement generation; Barack Obama being the biggest example, and why it is the “Age of Obama”, but not the only one.

    And again, what about the fact that Gwen Ifill has interviewed John McCain for magazines such as Essence? Doesn’t that fact show that she can be fair and balanced?

    Whether Obama wins or loses in November, black political life has changed (for the better in my mind). It didn’t start with Obama, but there is no denying that he is a big reflection of that change. Just because Gwen Ifill has written a book about it doesn’t mean that she is in his pocket. It means she found the subject interesting.

  6. The sports metaphor that some political pundits use to describe this is “working the ref.”

    The mainstream media have been criticized for being “too liberal” for so long they sometimes bend over backwards to show they are not “too liberal.”

    Here’s a quote from Rich Bond, the 1992 GOP Chair to describe their strategy of criticizing the media for being too liberal:

    “If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs.’ Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one.”

  7. The book is coming out Inauguration day. I don’t think that’s an accident. It’s a financial bet.

    The real piece of enlightenment here is how the chattering class is cashing in on Obama. Even those of us opposed to him can see those opportunities.

    Obama became a very rich man writing a book. He’s never written a law review article but he became a millionaire writing about himself. He may well be a very powerful man for simply having written about himself.

    Eifell will become wealthy writing about him. Probably wealthier if he wins.

    Conservatives will get a boost if he wins. Thee opposition chattering class always gets a boost (and I’ll be looking for opportunities too!)

    But don’t kid yourself and pity Eifell here Kim.

    Shrewd people all over making a buck and none so shrewd as a guy from Chicago.

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