Faux Right Wing Rage at Ifill Choice for Debate

Despite the McCain campaign's assertion that it did not know Gwen Ifill, moderator of tomorrow's VP debate, was writing a book on politics, race and Sen. Barack Obama, as Judd Legum points out, it was in the Washington Times two weeks before McCain agreed on August 6 to Ifill as a moderator. A simple Lexis search would have found it.

"We have an awkward history about how to talk about race in the nation and in newsrooms," says Gwen Ifill, senior correspondent for PBS' "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" and author of "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," slated for publication early next year.

The takeaway here is only the incompetence of the McCain campaign to do its homework. More...

Jamison Foser at Media Matters has more. Leading the faux rage is conservative blogger Michelle Malkin. Watch everyone else jump on the bandwagon. I'm humming:

Play (Traffic: (Here's a little song) You Can All Join In -- play will start automatically.)

Here's a little song you can all join in with

It's very simple and I hope it's new

Make your own words up if you want to

Any old words that you think will do, yeah
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    Somerby thinks Ifill is awful (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by rilkefan on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:08:13 PM EST
    Dunno why either camp would want her to moderate.

    After learning that she was Rice's best friend, I (none / 0) (#36)
    by suzieg on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 01:57:13 AM EST
    tuned her off - also she was pro war from the start and excused Bush at every occasion! She's completely unbelievable....

    She is a welcomed voice in our house (5.00 / 0) (#3)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:13:09 PM EST
    I am not sure how writing a book about new African American leadership that also includes, as I understand, a large section on Powell is biased for Obama.  How could she write a book about Black political leaders, and not include Obama?

    The populist movement that McCain has attached himself to, is at war with intellectual discussion and debate.  

    It's Michelle Freakin' Malkin for crying out loud (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by rdandrea on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:18:09 PM EST
    It doesn't have to make sense.

    at war with intellectual discussion, eh? (none / 0) (#5)
    by nycstray on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:27:07 PM EST
    why do you say that?

    Well the Republicans... (none / 0) (#20)
    by dutchfox on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 06:12:11 PM EST
    Well the Republicans did nominate Palin for VP! That should tell you something!

    I wonder (none / 0) (#23)
    by lentinel on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 07:40:09 PM EST
    I wonder if Obama can qualify in any sense as a "leader".
    Obviously - a prominent politician.
    But whom has he led?

    Are you crazy? (none / 0) (#32)
    by Newt on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 11:22:40 PM EST
    He's already leading millions of people, including new, young voters and seasoned Democrats who gave up on politics years ago but reentered the arena because of his candidacy.

    You don't need to be a Governor or in the military to be a leader.  Obama has engaged and motivated people to hit the streets and phone banks getting other voters registered and involved.  He's connected people all across the country, across the world, in conversations about how to improve education, universities, access to health care and more.  He's a true popularist leader with the potential to radically change our country's direction.  We're not hiring a new president to run the show for us for the next four years.  We're electing a leader who inspires regular Americans to get involved in making our country better.  Remember, the Yes We Can movement is more about us than Obama.  


    And after they're done getting votes (none / 0) (#33)
    by Cream City on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 11:47:48 PM EST
    for Obama, what are they going to do for the country?  Candidates lead people to the polls, while leaders lead people to make lasting societal change.  So I have wondered for some time and watched for any word on what this movement will do starting on November 5.  

    What Obama Says (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by daring grace on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 11:21:59 AM EST
    is that an expanded commitment to cultivating public service in many diverse forms will be at the center of his presidency.

    Here is the text of a speech he gave on the 4th of July in Colorado Springs where he outlines a detailed blueprint of his vision for this.

    Myself, I am enthused about this kind of thing. But right now I'm also in a position where I'll believe it when I see it. One of the reasons I'm enthused is because I think Americans are starved for the chance and the encouragement to get actively involved in a unifying process where we feel we are part of fixing things and making them better in our communities but not all of us know how to do that. We can use some formal help organizing and putting our efforts where they will make the most difference.

    But even in my enthusiasm I am also (old enough to be) skeptical of what any politician promises, but also patient enough (and superstitious enough, Democrat-getting-elected-president wise) to wait until after the GE to demand evidence and results.

    I am an Obama supporter--but not an apologist for him and as his poll margins grow and it starts to look more and more possible he will get elected, I also feel my cynicism and critical eye getting activated. I'm hoping for the best, but I'm ready (expecting?) to be disappointed. Heck, I already have been in the campaign.

    But what a relief to finally be emerging from this eight years of agony under Bush-Cheney.


    VP DEBATE (none / 0) (#35)
    by realist on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 12:05:07 AM EST
    Forget change! How about improvement? What, besides being popular, does Obama have in his bag of tricks to improve America? Did he improve the south side of Chicago,the district he represented in the IL state house for 8 years? No, it's worse! Police and fire personnel are afraid to respond in Obama's old ward for fear of being shot at!
    As for Gwen Ifill not being a biased moderator, her new book "Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama"  is slated to be released around the inauguration of the next president in January 2009. Coincidence? I think not! The fix is in and the jig is up! America sees right through Obama and the attempts to ram his ideals down our throats. You'll see Nov 4th. I promise.

    Yeah, right, why don't YOU try to clean up (none / 0) (#50)
    by Newt on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:11:10 PM EST
    the south side of Chicago.  Realist?  I think not.  

    See you on the 4th.  Your cheatin', lying man is going down.  The rest of the Repub party is already down the toilet.  More to follow.


    Yes we can... (none / 0) (#37)
    by lentinel on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 05:22:31 AM EST
    Yes we can what?

    Influence legislation?
    End the war in Iraq?

    Yes we can what?


    Since McCain is not worried about (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by coast on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:31:55 PM EST
    her doing her job as moderator why would his assertion that he did not know she was writing a book matter.  Its the far right that seems to have a problem with this, not McCain or his campaign.  I believe she will be fair because she is one of the few reporters left who gives a d*&^ about her reputation as being a true journalist and some talking head for the left or the right.  

    Having it both ways. (none / 0) (#39)
    by jsj20002 on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 08:28:23 AM EST
    If the McCain campaign did not vet the debate moderators, it shows incompetence.  Could be true, but not likely.  More likely, they did know about Gwen's book, but did nothing to bring it to the public's attention until now.  That way, McCain can take the high road and say "I didn't know about it, but Gwen will be fair" while McCain's surrogates can cry to the heavens about how unfair Gwen will be because, of course, she is black, and all blacks will vote for Barack including Colin Powell and Condi Rice.  Notice how this approach simultaneously takes the media attention off Sarah Palin and inserts our candidate's race into the discussion.    

    Gosh, this reminds me of something (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Birmingham Blues on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:43:39 PM EST
    Oh, yes, I remember.  McCain didn't vet Sarah Palin either.

    Ifill (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by elrapido on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:50:02 PM EST
    She should not have accepted the offer to moderate the debate and she knows it.

    in all fairness (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by ZtoA on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 08:32:14 PM EST
    she DOES have a financial conflict of interest. She should not be moderator.

    I have no doubt that Ifill will be fair... (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Nathan In Nola on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 09:11:07 PM EST
    ... but I also wish that she had not signed up for the job in the first place. The appearance of fairness is just about as important as the actual fairness itself.

    By the way, does anyone else suspect that the GOP really knew about this all along? Maybe it's paranoid, I don't know. But I mean, these guys get paid to know this stuff and they don't mess around.  Seems like they may have figured, well, if Ifill reveals it early, replace her with another moderator, if she doesn't, release the news at the eleventh hour and cast doubt on the integrity of the debate. Releasing this news the day before the debate sure seems to create a favorable situation for Palin...

    Anyway, I think it will all be a nonstory soon enough, I just wish it hadn't come up in the first place.

    I'm sure (none / 0) (#1)
    by lentinel on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:07:09 PM EST
    I'm sure that I'm in the minority here, but I remember Gwen Ifill during the days of the run-up to the war in Iraq.

    Like her fellow "journalists", she was completely accepting of all the garbage laid out by the politicians and ex-military folks trotted out by the administration. She was equally as dismissive and condescending to those few who were allowed on PBS to state the alternative point of view.

    So, in that sense, she's perfect for the job of "moderator".

    So, by the way, is Lehrer. His dossier is mostly filled with his ability to say, "uh huh".

    Yes, I recall that well -- (none / 0) (#9)
    by Cream City on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:32:27 PM EST
    and it was the beginning of my realization (probably belatedly vs. others who listened more closely) that Bush was trashing the traditions of public broadcasting, too.  Next came NPR.

    So we switched to the BBC.  Gosh, thanks, Gwen!


    Ifill is so (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by BernieO on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 06:05:37 PM EST
    inside the beltway. She epitomizes what has gone wrong with the media - even PBS. She treats politics like it is high school gossip.

    Which reminds me. I say Tom Brokaw on TV the other day saying that politics is high school all over again. All I could think was that if journalists covered it seriously it wouldn't be. He also bemoaned the fact that he missed being able to call Timmeh and get the latest gossip. These guys have so much money they know they will be OK so they can afford to have fun with politics. The rest of us pay the price.


    Part of the Wash. Week in Review crew... (none / 0) (#15)
    by sallywally on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 05:48:34 PM EST
    who at least by 2000 were stating things in subtly snarky ways about Clintons, for instance, and Dems, and in general acting like "aren't we kewl insiders," etc. Ifill was no exception to this.

    They would say "Gore complained that....blah blah," "but Bush made the case that...." and most of my extended family and liberal friends didn't notice that subtle and thought Gore was a jerk and "stretcher of the truth" and Bush was a great guy, "comfortable in his skin," etc.

    There would be knowing glances among the WW group, too, and little shared chuckles, etc.      

    They also all bought the idea that Kerry was a loser candidate when in fact if Repubs had not perpetrated all sorts of dirty tricks in the 2004 election, Kerry would have won the election, or more accurately, did win it.

    I did and still do prefer the McLaughlin Group because no one is pretending to be objective - although I usually do want to murder Monica Crowley.....the worst conservative on that show in a long time. I love Eleanor Clift.

    Lots of folks do think Ifill is a great journalist, though. Better than CNN, Chuck Todd, MSNBC, etc.


    It scares teh crap out of me (none / 0) (#21)
    by Salo on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 07:01:30 PM EST
    that these same Bushian media types are all behind Obama now. What are they up to?

    What are they up to? (none / 0) (#24)
    by lentinel on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 07:43:18 PM EST
    Isn't it obvious?

    No, it isn't, (none / 0) (#29)
    by robert72 on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 08:57:05 PM EST
    to me, at least. If they want Obama to win, why? Since when has the media gone Democratic? They messed up Gore and Kerry for Bush. It has to be money and power.
    Do the Republicans want to lose? Are they betting on negative ads in the next month? Are they betting at all? I just can't imagine them giving up power easily - but maybe they want the Democrats to take all the blame in the next 4 years and then the Rs will be able to take over everything again. Or is Obama in the pocket of big business and McCain isn't? Certainly Hillary would have made big changes in Washington and she got pushed aside by the Dems.
    Sorry - that is a confused paragraph - but that is the confusion I feel.
    Maybe the media is for Obama because he is the bigger story..... and that is all there is to it.

    Why? To preserve the status quo (none / 0) (#34)
    by Cream City on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 11:52:15 PM EST
    in Washington for the Kennedy-Kerry machine.  No return to the Clinton years when the Kennedys were not running Washington.  And as Kerry couldn't do it, and several of the young K's took themselves out of contention for public approval with various problems in the courts -- and young RFK isn't ready yet -- they needed someone to hold Washington for them in the interim.

    We go to the polls to please the people inside the beltway.


    Why? (none / 0) (#38)
    by lentinel on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 05:27:43 AM EST
    The media see Obama as the conservator of their life-style. For the moment.

    They haven't "gone democratic".
    They could turn on a dime.

    They are corporate entities supporting the person they think will advance their interests.


    Yawn (none / 0) (#6)
    by Steve M on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:30:16 PM EST
    They squawked about Ifill's horrible left-wing bias in 2004 also, I remember it well.  Apparently they forgot all about it in the intervening 4 years and somehow got snookered into agreeing to let her moderate a debate.  Oh, that foolish McCain campaign.

    Perhaps... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Thanin on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:45:38 PM EST
    the mccain camp is counting on her has been viewed biased left, so that if palin loses, they can just frame the loss that way.

    Not so (none / 0) (#8)
    by cal1942 on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:32:02 PM EST
    much incompetence as desperation.  A Hail Mary GOP whine.

    They talked about it this morning (none / 0) (#13)
    by indy in sc on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:59:11 PM EST
    on Morning Joe..after Joe finished bloviating about what an outrage it was that the the "left-wing" media was not jumping on this story, the whole panel agreed that the McCain camp can't credibly argue ignorance here and if they really didn't know, they need to learn how to use the Google.  

    This is clearly just giving them a ready narrative in case Palin either does not do well or receives "tough" questions from Gwen.

    That's beside the point (none / 0) (#40)
    by jar137 on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 09:11:40 AM EST
    If Ifill has a conflict- which she does since her book will sell much better if Obama wins- she shouldn't moderate the debate.  If she had any integrity, she would have excused herself.  But she's typical Wasington media.  To argue that this conflict- and the appearance of unfairness- is irrelevant because McCain did not complain sooner, is outrageous.  How will we get a more responsible media if people on the left adopt this kind of view?  I remember when Bob Scheiffer (sp?) moderated one of the Bush debates and asked what role faith played in his decisionamking (what a sop to the far right).  Scheiffer was a friend of GWB from his governor days.  He should not have moderated that debate and Ifill should not be moderating this one.  It' not as if there aren't plenty of other options.

    If we want to (none / 0) (#43)
    by indy in sc on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 11:55:29 AM EST
    disqualify every journalist who ever worked for, was friends with or wrote a book about a politician or a party, I don't know who would moderate debates.  The book is about black politics "in the age of Obama" it is not pro-Obama or anti-McCain and it was known about when these debates were (heavily) negotiated between the parties.  If McCain's camp is convinced she cannot be impartial, they should call for a new moderator.  If not--don't use it as a pre-made excuse in case of a poor performance by Palin.

    You've overstated the point (none / 0) (#44)
    by jar137 on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 04:36:51 PM EST
    Ifill has a book that is about to be published.  I have not read a galley (and assume you have not either), so I don't think you argue about the actual contents of the book.  Furthermore, what's so bad about questioning the motives of journalists?  Were you not bothered by Timmeh's cozy relationship with politicos and the effect it had on his reporting (I assume everything is off the record)?  Whether McCain should have complained earlier is irrelevant to my point.  Do you really want a public discourse in which you snooze, you lose trumps doing the right thing?  I certainly do not.

    The book (none / 0) (#45)
    by indy in sc on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 05:38:54 PM EST
    isn't about to be published--it's not even finished yet.  She has written some of the historical stuff and has not yet written the chapter on Obama.  

    Of course journalists motives and biases are important to the extent they affect their reporting.  I think it's a perfectly legitimate question.  My answer here is that I don't think it will cause Gwen to be biased in her moderation.  That is the substance of the question--not the timing with which anyone objects.  

    My point is that if the McCain camp feels that this is a conflict, they should object now.  The point here is that they have not objected, either back when they negotiated this or this week when more attention was placed on it.  My point is that McCain cannot say that he feels that Gwen will do a professional job and be unbiased as he did yesterday and then take shots at her impartiality as he did today.  They're trying to have it both ways--not calling for a new moderator so that he can complain later if he needs to.


    Gee (none / 0) (#46)
    by jar137 on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 06:10:41 PM EST
    the book's not finished, but you already know its content (not pro-Obama or anti-McCain).  How prescient of you.  And you also seem to think that because you believe she will not be biased, that will be the case.  So, we should all derive comfort from your belief?  The reason we are concerned with the "appearance" of partiality is because we cannot know what an interested person's motives will be (including you).  You are employing the same lack of reasoning that has enabled GWB over the past eight years- a blind belief that your guy/gal is honest, so there's no need to question him/her.  I think belief and feeling should be left out of the equation.  I do, however, agree with your assessment of McCain.  

    Look, (none / 0) (#47)
    by indy in sc on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 07:26:21 PM EST
    there's no need to be insulting.  Of course you should not take comfort in my belief that she will not be biased--I didn't ask you to.  You can draw your own conclusions.  I won't reiterate my point about McCain, because it seems you get what I was trying to say.  That was my whole point.  I decided to throw in my own opinion of Gwen not as the definitive say on whether she will partial, but you know that and chose to be snide.

    Anyway, as to the books contents, I'm not prescient, I just read.


    I was responding to your tone (none / 0) (#48)
    by jar137 on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 08:12:59 PM EST
    You were quick to say the book was not pro-Obama, but then responded to my comment with it's not about to be published.  (January to me is soon enough.)  I was not arguing that the book was in fact pro-Obama, but that in light of the possible impact of an Obama victory on sales that it didn't look good.  If I misread your tone, I apologize.  I would have rather discussed with you whether you think we should expect the avoidance of an appearance of partiality from our media.  No hard feelings, I hope.

    No hard feelings. (none / 0) (#49)
    by indy in sc on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 09:58:59 PM EST
    Tone can be a very difficult thing to read in posts.  I certainly didn't mean to convey anything negative in my tone and apologize if I did.

    Yes, I believe we should expect our hard news journalists (as opposed to pundits) to be free of real or perceived conflicts of interest in their work.  I think we agree on that.  I didn't find either with Gwen given what I know of her impending book, but I can see how others might.  If McCain did, he should have requested an alternate moderator (I kind of wish he had, because I thought she was awful).


    Ha. Washington Times? (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 05:11:13 PM EST

    LOL (none / 0) (#16)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 05:57:56 PM EST
    Of course if the show was on the other foot, the Progressive would be howling.

    have a little faith, here. (none / 0) (#17)
    by Christy1947 on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 06:02:38 PM EST
    You will remember that regular Americans are listening to these debates, and a large number of them have personal BS meters for any words coming out of any politician's mouth. McC thought he did well and look at the poll numbers this week, in places where bicoastals are thin on the ground.

    whatever Obama is saying (none / 0) (#22)
    by Salo on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 07:02:50 PM EST
    in that debate is resonating with indies for the moment.  

    Linking to media matters (none / 0) (#25)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 07:49:02 PM EST
    is not good.  Media Matters was started by Hillary.  Got a link that is unbaised?

    Pre-damage control?? (none / 0) (#26)
    by singlemomvoting on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 07:49:25 PM EST
    Are the republicans so sure that Palin will show her lack of intelligence that they are doing damage control before the debate?  They are making sure we all know the approved moderator has secret leanings toward the Democrats.  Wow, I think Palin isn't the only one showing her lack of intelligence.  How could anyone watch PBS and not know about this book that was finished months ago.  The publication date was set months ago, before Ms. Ifill was chosen as moderator for this debate.  Seems the GOP is showing their general inability to see beyond their own limited horizons or care about what anyone is doing until they find it useful to themselves.

    Ms. Ifill is a woman of great achievement that has easily earned her place on the list of women that young women everywhere should be given as an example of what they could aspire to do in their own lives.  It would be disappointing if any person of intelligence did not have an opinion on the presidential candidates and their counterparts.  Yes, even reporters have a right to personal political opinion regardless of which convention they are required to attend. To imply that a person of integrity would slant something as important as a national debate is coming close to libel and shows the desperation of a political party all too aware that their days of power are coming to an end.

    By the way; I am a single mother of two and the only form of discrimination I have ever experienced is the reverse kind because, you see, I am white.

    Ifill is a hack (none / 0) (#41)
    by jar137 on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 09:15:03 AM EST
    Look at her history (others above have noted her pro-war bias).  She is not an icon I would want my daughter to look up to.  Helen Thomas, on the other hand, is a true role model and would be the perfect moderator, esp. at this critical point in our history.  She would not have allowed the candidates to avoid the economic crisis issue the way Lehrer did.

    If Gwen Ifill can't be unbiased (none / 0) (#28)
    by MoveThatBus on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 08:32:50 PM EST
    it will show during the debate and people can make their decisions based on what they saw happen.

    I speak only for myself, and am quite certain that Ifill is professional and will be very careful to make certain she doesn't tarnish her reputation by playing favorites.

    Scraping the Bottom (none / 0) (#31)
    by WakeLtd on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 10:31:17 PM EST
    Apparently the "incompetence" of the McCain campaign extends to a good-faith belief that a reasonably objective moderator without a financial interest in an Obama victory would be selected. To be fair, people dealing in good-faith would not see this coming. Jeralyn's point seems to be. "If they are dumb enough to not distrust PBS, they get what they deserve." Then she idiotically hums. It is your blog. You get to be the idiot, Jeralyn.