I’m not one to scream in outrage at the drop of a hat (Well, maybe once in a while… ), but this is egregious:
Questions are being raised about PBS anchor Gwen Ifill’s objectivity after news surfaced that she is releasing a new book promoting Barack Obama and other black politicians who have benefited from the civil rights struggle.
Ifill is moderating Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. Her book, "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," is due to be released about the same time the next president takes the oath of office.
In her book, Ifill contends that the black political structure of the civil rights movement has cleared the way for post-racial politicians to ascend to new heights.
Now some are wondering whether Ifill can be fair and balanced, and whether she should be the moderator of Thursday’s 9 p.m. ET debate.
"Clearly her books aren’t going to do as well unless Obama wins, so it looks like she has some investment, literally, in one candidate or the other. And she’s supposed to be sitting there as a neutral arbiter during the debate," said NPR’s Juan Williams, a FOX News contributor. "I think the world of Gwen Ifill but I know there’s a perception problem."
No kidding, Juan. Ifill’s book is scheduled to come out on Inauguration Day in January. Gee, does anyone think sales of her book might be affected if it’s released on the day Obama is inaugurated? Didn’t this hint to anyone at the debate sponsors that maybe, just maybe, Ifill has a financial interest in VP nominee Biden doing well in Thursday’s debate with Sarah Palin, which Ifill is moderating?
Conflict of interest? Whaddat?
A debate moderator is supposed to be a neutral arbitrator. How on Earth can anyone assume Ifill’s neutrality when she stands to make a lot of money on an Obama win?
Just to be clear, I’m not screaming conspiracy or anything of the sort. (Although media bias these days is blatant.) I’ve liked Ifill’s work on PBS’s Newshour. But the debate sponsors have a responsibility to provide as neutral a venue as possible, both for the candidates and the viewing public, who may well be influenced by the moderator. The public needs to know about Ifill’s financial interest in the outcome of this debate from the start. At a minimum, the sponsors should issue a press release that clarifies Ifill’s conflict of interest, and Ifill herself should make that clear before the cameras at the start of the debate.
At best, she should be replaced.
Want to make your opinion known? The telephone number of the Commission on Presidential Debates is 202-872-1020, and the email of Janet Brown, the executive director, is firstname.lastname@example.org. (h/t Michelle Malkin)
Really, what were they thinking?
LINKS: Patterico, Ed Morrissey, Sister Toldjah.
UPDATE: More from Howard Kurtz, Victor Davis Hanson, and Jennifer Rubin.