Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Gwen Ifill's Debate Dilemma

PBS's VP Debate moderator Gwen Ifill's upcoming book about the rise of African American politics in the "Age of Obama" is raising some eyebrows as she'll be moderating the debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden tommorrow night.

As Brit Hume correctly noted today there is little reason to think she won't be objective but it is of some concern that the book, set to release on *inauguration day* means that Ifill has a significant financial stake in the outcome of the election (ie her perspective if Obama wins is far, far more valuable than if he loses).

With journalistic objectivity pretty much in a death spiral already, I think PBS should be getting *out* of the game of partisan journalism rather than finding themselves squarely in the eye of that storm.

Given that Gwen just broke her ankle she's got a great excuse to pass her debate duties along to another and she probably should do that. Unless the McCain campaign had been briefed about her book when they agreed to have Ifill moderate the debate it's not reasonable for her to claim this should be of no concern at this time, especially given the publication date which clearly presages the outcome of the election. Ifill is involved in predicting and profiting from the outcome of this election and therefore should offer to excuse herself from the debate.

FYI Ms. Ifill - McCain will tell you to go ahead anyway, so why not take the high road here?

No comments: