PBS journalist Gwen Ifill will moderate Thursday night’s debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin... an event to which the entire English-speaking world will pay attention.
But Ms. Ifill today found herself on the hot seat.
Pro-McCain opinionators such as Michelle Malkin and Dick Morris accused Ifill of having a conflict of interest... because of her upcoming book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.”
I agree with them.
Not that I question Gwen Ifill’s professional integrity. Surely she will perform her debate duties without bias or favor. But, obviously, more people will buy Ifill’s book (which comes out in January) if Barack Obama is elected president. She has a financial stake in the outcome of this race.
For that reason alone, Gwen Ifill shouldn’t be moderating a debate this go-round.
But it’s too late now. The McCain campaign approved of her weeks ago. And the title of Ifill’s book has been publicly known since July. If McCain staffers didn’t know about the book, then they’re incompetent.
Team McCain isn’t asking for Ifill to be replaced. But it seems that they are spinning the media to put subtle pressure on her. If Ifill is too rough with Palin, or is perceived as tricky or snarky, she’ll be attacked as “in the tank” for Obama.
Or maybe McCain is simply laying out a ready-made excuse in case Sarah Palin performs poorly tomorrow. “The deck was stacked against her from the beginning.” It’s all in the game.
Below is a 3-minute promo video from Doubleday Publishing, in which Ms. Ifill discusses her book. It has been up on YouTube (and other video websites) for two weeks.