VP debate moderator Ifill releasing pro-Obama book
Focuses on blacks who are 'forging a bold new path to political power'
Posted: September 30, 2008
8:35 pm Easter
The moderator of Thursday's vice presidential debate between Democrat Sen. Joe Biden and GOP Gov. Sarah Palin is writing a book, to come out about the time the next president takes the oath of office, to "shed new light" on Democratic candidate Barack Obama and other "emerging young African American politicians" who are "forging a bold new path to political power."
Gwen Ifill, of the Public Broadcasting Service program called "Washington Week," is promoting "The Breakthrough," in which she argues the "Black political structure" of the civil rights movement is giving way to men and women who have benefited from those struggles over racial equality.
Ifill declined to return a WND telephone message asking for a comment about her book project, and whether its success would be expected should Obama lose. But she has faced criticism previously for not treating candidates of both major parties the same.
During an earlier debate event she moderated, when Democrat John Edwards attacked Dick Cheney's former employer, Halliburton, the vice president said, "I can respond, Gwen, but it's going to take more than 30 seconds."
"Well, that's all you've got," she told him.
Ifill told the Associated Press Democrats were delighted with her answer, because they "thought I was being snippy to Cheney." She explains that wasn't her intent.
But she also was cited in complaints PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler said he got after Palin delivered her nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis this year.
The complaints cited Ifill's "dismissive" look during her report on Palin's speech. According to Getler, some complaints also said she wore a look of "disgust" while reporting on Palin.
At that time she said, "I assume there will always be critics and just shut out the noise. It is surprisingly easy."
Ifill, who also works with PBS' "NewsHour," is making preparations to moderate this week's debate between the two candidates for vice president, and told BlackAmericaWeb.com that she thinks debates "are the best opportunity most voters have to see the candidates speaking to issues."
She said she is concerned only about getting straight answers from candidates.
"You do your best to get candidates to answer your question. But I also trust the viewers to understand when questions are not answered and reach their own conclusions," Ifill told BlackAmericaWeb.
"Four years ago, when neither John Edwards nor Dick Cheney proved capable of answering a question about the domestic epidemic of AIDS among African-American women, viewers flooded me with reaction," she said.
She said she will make her own decisions about what questions to ask, and "the big questions matter."
In the Amazon.com promotion for her book, Ifill is described as "drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell…" and others.
In an online video promoting her book, she is enthusiastic about "taking the story of Barack Obama and extending it."
It focuses on four people, "one of them Barack Obama of course," she said.
"They are changing our politics and changing our nation," she said.
On Amazon.com, Ifill is praised for her "incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama."
"Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history," the review says.
She told AP about her views on Obama, "I still don't know if he'll be a good president." She also describes how she met him at the 2004 Democratic convention, and since then has interviewed Obama and his family.
She also boasted by the time of the debate, "I'll be a complete expert on both" Palin and Biden.
The debate will be held at Washington University in St. Louis, which has posted information about the evening's events online.
Ifill's profile there describes her as a longtime correspondent and moderator for national news programs and includes her service as moderator of the 2004 debate between Edwards and Cheney.
However, there's no mention of her upcoming book. Nor does the website for the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is organizing the meetings of the candidates, mention her book.