Shock: Conservatives preemptively claiming bias

A day before the vice-presidential debate, the right is questioning the objectivity of moderator Gwen Ifill.

Published October 1, 2008 3:25PM (EDT)

The vice-presidential debate hasn't even happened yet -- it's still a day away -- but conservatives are already alleging that moderator Gwen Ifill is biased in favor of Barack Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden.

The Drudge Report currently features a banner headline about Ifill (a screen shot follows at the bottom of this post), linking to an article published by the conservative Web site about Ifill's forthcoming book, "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama." The writer of the WND article, Bob Unruh, hasn't read the book -- no one who's complaining about it has -- but the headline of the piece calls it "pro-Obama" nonetheless.

Here's the publisher's description of the book, via

In THE BREAKTHROUGH, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.

Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, and also covers up-and-coming figures from across the nation. Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the "black enough" conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.

The right side of the blogosphere is already up in arms about this. Michelle Malkin was ahead of the curve, writing in a blog post published Tuesday, "Try as [Ifill] might to deflect questions about her impartiality, her biases -- and her conflict of interest -- are clear. But don't you dare breathe a word about any of this. You know what will happen if you do ...


Some on the right are also complaining that the McCain campaign, which agreed to Ifill's serving as moderator, wasn't told about her book. That strikes me as a pretty lame excuse -- clearly, it was no secret, and the campaign should have done its homework if it's going to complain about it now. But this does all serve one very important purpose, lowering expectations for Palin's performance even further, which will only help her in the end.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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