Gwen Ifill's Book and Debate Moderation

Gwen Ifill's Book Casts Debate Moderation Questions


With the Lunch Bucket vs. Barracuda match up a hair over 24 hours away, the sassy, classy debate moderator Gwen Ifill has found her plate full of more than just prepping questions. Ifill, the PBS news maven and moderator of Washington Week, broke her ankle on Monday, though her doctor has given her the A-OK to travel and keep her debate duties. She called the accident, "Another crazy twist in a crazy week."

The week is about to get crazier if Matt Drudge and many others have anything to say about it. The top story on the DrudgeReport is of Ifill's upcoming book, set to be released on Inauguration Day called The Breakthrough: Politics in the Age of Obama. The book focuses on "emerging young African American politicians," one of whom is Barack Obama. The book also includes interviews with Colin Powell, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and MA Gov. Deval Patrick, though given the climate the focus is on the big "O." Does that make for an uh-oh in a moderator?

To see what people are saying about it and my nickel (hey, two cents is not worth what it used to be) read more.


The book's Obama connection has been hyped as a "glaring conflict of interest," and Fox's Greta Van Susteren said the McCain campaign didn't know about the book and says having her moderate "simply is not fair — in law, this would create a mistrial."


Ifill moderated my favorite debate of all time, the one where Dick Cheney showed up to dinner with John Edwards, and one was the guest of honor and one was the main course. I'll let you assign roles as you see fit. I think the lady has cred to spare, and I'm frankly not concerned about the crossover of moderating a debate and writing a book examining the journey of African-Americans in the political process. Everyone from your mom to Wolf Blitzer's beard is calling this campaign, specifically Obama's journey, historic. Why wouldn't a journalist investigate something which she deems a trend worth exploring — especially one who's covered politics from the New York Times to the NewsHour?

And though some are up to their eyeballs in ire over the supposed lack of disclosure, it's not info that's so hard to find. Last time I checked, a listing on Amazon.com and the first paragraph of your work bio weren't really good places to hide things, just one of the reasons I'm not assigning indignation to this story. Look, these are touchy political times for us all, but naive or no, I have faith that at some point you have to trust that investigative curiosity and reportage are not equal to being a debate-throwing sycophant. And given the fact that most of the world will have a close eye on the fairness of the proceedings, I'm decidedly not worried. Are you?

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