Gwen Ifill and the Vice Presidential Debate (updated)

Gwen Ifill has compromised herself and her employer, the publicly-funded PBS by failing to disclose an obvious conflict of interest. The degree of media bias for the Obama campaign becomes all the more obvious. She has a clear financial interest in the outcome of the presidential election, through her authorship of a book on Obama to be published Inauguration Day.  

Urgent Agenda's William Katz reminds us:

Clearly, that book is vastly more valuable if Obama wins.  In addition, Ifill's behavior on the air in covering Sarah Palin's acceptance speech at the GOP convention was the subject of complaints to the PBS ombudsman.

I've looked at Ifill's work for years.  An objective reporter she is not.  I recall that, after radical leftist Cynthia McKinney lost the Democratic nomination for her congressional seat one year, Ifill went on the air, two nights in a row, to talk about "groups," read that Jews, who financed her opponent.  She never once mentioned that McKinney had been heavily financed by Muslim groups.  She's that kind of "reporter."

AT's Marc Sheppard writes:

Greta Van Susteren has confirmed  that the McCain-Palin campaign knew nothing about the book, which, according to, sheds "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."   Lacking such full disclosure, the Fox News journalist and attorney believes that "it is a conflict of interest and the offended ticket should pull out of the debate...or she [Ifill] should."

Much of the issue lies in the financial conflict of interest Ifill's book represents, as an Obama victory would surely rally greater sales when The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama is released the day after the inauguration.

Clearly Ifill has disgraced herself and cannot pretend to be an objective moderator. Clarice Feldman provides the email address of Janet H. Brown, Executive Director of the Debates Commission in case readers want to let her know that they consider it inappropriate for Ifill to moderate:

But Marc Sheppard argues that Ifill remaining as moderator could actually hand an advantage to Palin:

Biden must be careful not to fall into the trap that snared Rick Lazio when he debated Hillary in 2000 during the NY State Senate race.  If you recall, in an effort to force her pledge to refuse soft money, Lazio strolled over to Clinton's podium, waving an affidavit in his hand.  The Clinton machine quickly portrayed the move as bullying and demeaning to women.  Hillary herself played the hapless victim, portraying her opponent as a yelling finger-pointing bully who had "invaded her space."

Many consider that September evening as the moment Lazio lost the race.

Given the Democrat campaign's sensitivity to lingering resentment among many Clinton supporters, it's unlikely that Joe hasn't sat watching training tapes of that night - complete with advisors circling Lazio's offending moves, words, and even facial expressions on the screen with a wax pencil - repeatedly.

Sure, the seasoned Biden is not likely to mimic Lazio's incursive maneuvers, but behind Joe's undeniable charm hides an equally undeniable temper. Any hint of bullying might rekindle a bull-run on Palin's sinking stock.

But with a personally interested woman channeling the questions to the combatants, Joe needn't ever remove his kid-gloves.  The narrative could quite easily be directed by an Obama-friendly female moderator to keep the pressure on Palin without any appearance of misogyny.  Biden could even act sympathetic as he watches his opponent pelted with questions he couldn't possibly pose himself. 

Just imagine any man pressing the Alaska governor on the "morning-after" pill or abortion for a 15 year-old rape victim, as Katie Couric coldly did last night.

Now that Ifill's dog in this fight has been unequivocally identified, she may actually be Palin's best shot at a fair shake from a liberal moderator in heels.

I say let her stay. 

Michelle Malkin comments at IBD: 

The moderator expected to treat both sides fairly has grandiosely declared this the "Age of Obama." Can you imagine a right-leaning journalist writing a book about the "stunning" McCain campaign and its "bold" path to reform timed for release on Inauguration Day - and then expecting a slot as a moderator for the nation's sole vice presidential debate? [....]

She recently penned a fawning cover story on the Obamas for Essence magazine that earned much buzz. The title? "The Obamas: Portrait of an American Family."

A sample of Ifill's hard-hitting investigative journalism, illustrated with Kennedy-esque photos of the Obamas and children posing at home on the back porch and by the piano:

"Barack Obama is sitting in the back of his rented luxury campaign bus with its granite counters and two flat-screen TVs. The Illinois senator's arms are wrapped around his wife, Michelle, whom he doesn't get to see much these days. At this very moment he is, of all things, singing."

Thomas Lifson comments:

This is a SCANDAL in all-caps. Ifill is so obviously in the tank. Yet pretends to be able to objectively moderate a debate. She should resign her position at PBS as well as the debates. Her failure to do so would mark a new low in the devolution of our press into a left wing propaganda organ.

If, as I expect, the deabte continues with Ifill as moderator, Sarah Palin should open her comments by congratulating Ifill on her new book, and asking her why she and her publisher timed it for Inauguration Day, as just suggested by Dennis Miller on his radio program.   

Ed Lasky adds:
It should have been obvious even before the book came to light that Ifill was far from impartial. How is it that powers that be could not have found any other journalist to moderate the debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin?
Kyle-Anne Shiver adds:

In what just might be the wisest thing John McCain has done since picking Sarah Palin as his VP, he insisted today when asked, that neither he, nor anyone in his campaign knew before today that Ms. Ifill has a book on the new Obama era, which is coming out in January.  McCain's further insistence, in light of this new information, that he has complete faith in the journalistic integrity and fair-play agenda of Ms. Ifill, may indeed be sly-fox genius at work.

With an entire mainstream press so completely and unabashedly in the tank for the Democrat Party candidate, it makes terrific sense to formally state one's faith in the morals, honestly and integrity of the chosen debate moderator.  Why?  I would think this is obvious.

Number one:  McCain's statement puts Ms. Ifill on public notice that the public will be watching closely for bias and that we fully expect an unbiased debate.  And since Drudge and a great many websites have now featured this story as very important, many viewers (perhaps most) will be watching closely for bias and encouraged to give extra points to Sarah Palin.

Number two:  McCain's statement evidences confidence in his chosen candidate, Sarah Palin.  McCain is a man who is standing by this woman, without flinching in the face of mudslinging, dirty-dealing, low blows from the opposition, including Obama's lipstick-on-the-pig signal to all on the left that no blow would be considered out of bounds.   

When heartland voters watch tomorrow night's debate, they will be keenly aware that Sarah Palin could be their best friend, their mother, their sister or the girl next door.  And believe it or not, only a handful of isolated Americans believe that only males who went to Harvard can grow up to be president. 

The unavoidable acknowledgment that Ms. Ifill is African-American, will not help her claims to impartiality, when ever since the South Carolina primary, 95% of of the African-American constituency voted for Obama.  Sorry, but racism works both ways, and it isn't really helpful for minorities when they evidence as much racism as they've claimed to stand athwart.  Each individual gets to base his or her vote on the factors that matter most personally, and that standard applies equally to all in the voting booth.  It's the American way. 

There are a great many more places to stumble for Joe Biden tomorrow night than for Sarah Palin, in my opinion.  Many also seem to be ignoring that Sarah Palin has a record for doing best when the deck seems to be stacked against her.  I expect her to surprise a great many doubters tomorrow night, and I applaud Senator McCain for standing by her.  I predict he will be well-served by this stance in the only sphere that counts:  with the voters.