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Gwen Ifill, In the Tank


Ifill: In the Tank Citation: For accepting an offer to host this year’s vice-presidential debate without informing the Commission on Presidential Debates of her forthcoming pro-Obama tome, and for numerous other acts of pro-Obama journalism under the guise of unbiased reporting.

Ifill, host of PBS’s Washington Week, is writing a book titled, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, set to hit bookstores on January 20, Inauguration Day. When critics questioned how Ifill could possibly perform neutrally as a debate moderator given her clear personal and financial interest in an Obama victory, Ifill accused her critics of racism. “Do you think they made the same assumptions about Lou Cannon (who is white) when he wrote his book about Reagan?” Ifill told the Associated Press. 

Cannon’s biography, Reagan, was published in 1982 — after Reagan had been elected. At the time, the book was praised by both conservative columnist George Will and left-wing activist Tom Hayden. Hayden was quoted on the dust jacket saying, “Lou Cannon, with an objective insider’s eye, shows us that Ronald Reagan is not an actor but a genuine dreamer — even if his dream becomes a new American nightmare.”

Can we expect the same even-handedness from Ifill? A September 2008 cover story for Essence magazine provides a glimpse into Ifill’s view of the Obamas. In a sub-section titled “The Michelle Factor,” Ifill tells us that:

Michelle appears unfazed by most of the criticism, focusing instead on what she says she sees as she travels the country — people of all races and descriptions who crowd in to hug her at campaign events, and who do not seem to have gotten the word that she is supposed to be an angry Black woman. “In our generation, we were just taught that if you know who you are, then what somebody calls you is just so irrelevant to the day-to-day issues that have to be a focus of this race,” she says, speaking in a rush, as her husband nods in agreement. 

In another sub-section titled, “The Candidate Next Door,” Ifill writes:

[Barack's half-sister] Maya is part of the tight family circle, accompanying her presidential candidate brother to the soccer games and dance recitals he crams in on rare weekends home. Barack’s BlackBerry is ever present, his nightly conference calls with campaign staff a constant. But his wife says she gets what she needs.

“The thing that Barack does is that when he is there, he is a parent,” says Michelle. “He’s not like play dad. He’s the guy who has read through all of the Harry Potter books with Malia. Barack is very good about understanding that the kids and their structure and stability are important. And he’s somebody who, if there’s discipline that needs to be handed down, he doesn’t hesitate just because he hasn’t seen them in a week. 

The rest of the piece is similarly glowing. By contrast, consider her sullen reaction to Sarah Palin’s convention speech: “She belittled — and so did other speakers — Barack Obama at every opportunity, mocking the size of his state, his community-organizer status, and every time there was an explosion in this room.”

Ifill’s unadulterated adoration for the Democratic nominee, her personal stake in his victory, and her willingness to play the race card against anyone who questions her ability to be an impartial debate moderator, place her firmly In the Tank for Barack Obama.


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