I like Gwen Ifill, always have. But her retort in an AP story about the worry over her conflicts in the upcoming debate tonight is unworthy of the professional journalist she has always been, and reveals her to be completely clueless about the nature of the ethical questions raised:
“Do you think they made the same assumptions about Lou Cannon (who is white) when he wrote his book about Reagan?” said Ifill, who is black. Asked if there were racial motives at play, she said, “I don’t know what it is. I find it curious.”
That is, to be frank, an embarrassing statement. Does Ifill really believe that there would not have been outrage had a Lou Cannon been asked to moderate the 1984 Ferraro/Bush vice-presidential debate, with the 11th-hour knowledge that he was at that very time writing a favorable assessment of Reagan, in a book with the subtitle “Age of Reagan” — due out, by his own intent, on January 20 Inauguration Day to enhance the book’s sales with the expectation of a Reagan swearing-in?
Suggesting (if that is what the quote was) a racial motive for principled criticism of this ethical dilemma is, well, beneath contempt. During this entire depressing campaign season, beginning with the Obama/Clinton primaries, there have been two disturbing developments: one, the overt, unapologetic media bias on behalf of Obama; and, two, the preemptive use of the race card (on two occasions by Obama himself) to suggest that legitimate criticism is proof of prejudice. Unfortunately in this instance Ifill has managed to remind us of both those sad developments yet again.