Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 1, 2008
POLITICS: Full Disclosure

A number of conservatives, led by Michelle Malkin, are up in arms now about the fact that the moderator of the vice presidential debate, Gwen Ifill, has a book coming out January 20, 2009 - Inauguration Day - entitled "Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama." You can read Malkin's post for the full details of why this clearly gives Ifill a financial interest in there being an "Age of Obama" commencing January 20, to say nothing of her sympathies for her subject.

Moe Lane and Beldar are completely right here: this doesn't mean Ifill should be replaced at the last minute, likely with some other liberal journalist, and it doesn't mean Gov. Palin should be forced to eat into her precious debate time pointing the conflict out - but ethically, Ifill really must disclose to the national audience her book, its title and subject and release date at the outset of the debate, and let the viewing public decide if that tells them anything about the moderator.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:33 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (32) | TrackBack (0)

Palin excuse number one already lined up. This is sad look at Gwen Ifill past work in debates did you even know she was there?

Posted by: javaman at October 1, 2008 12:57 PM

Clearly the McCain camp must of agreed to who the moderator was going to be. Either they did not do their due diligence (shocking) or they did not care. In either case, they had a hand in making their own bed.

Posted by: jim at October 1, 2008 1:06 PM

I agree her past work hasn't been an issue, but she didn't have a vested interest in the results one way or the other except as a voter.

In this case she's got a clear interest: if Obama wins her book should do well, if not it's a doorstop. It's release is timed with inauguration day for goodness sake.

She should disclose it in a matter of fact way and get on with the debate. No one's looking for a musical number out of her, just the facts. The song and dance will come from both candidates once the questions start.

Posted by: Kevin at October 1, 2008 1:19 PM

Jim, Javaman: Really, how hard is it here to just agree that she ought to disclose this?

I did remember her moderating the Cheney/Edwards debate (I only saw the last third, heard the rest on the radio). Past debate questions tend not to stick all that much. But it's not all that outlandish to suggests she has a stronger rooting interest in this one. The book alone is proof of that.

Posted by: Crank at October 1, 2008 2:39 PM

Oh, absolutely she should and, really, I don't think she should even be the one doing this. It seems hard to see why they can't come up with a replacement but it seems equally hard to fathom why McCain's camp didn't nix her from the outset. Did they really not do any background work to find this out? How hard would that have been to do?

Posted by: jim at October 1, 2008 3:09 PM

I think Palin should just refure to debate if Ifill's a moderator. We all know you can't get a fair shake from someone unless they are actually card-carrying members of your party and intent on covering each and every one of your flubs. Not to mention avoiding your tender areas in the first place.

Wait, running's what Democrats do from Fox News and Lefties cheer them for it. Democrats could take a lesson from Palin here and man the f#%k up.

Posted by: spongeworthy at October 1, 2008 3:41 PM

Jim - I agree that it was not a great vetting job. That said, this was a negotiated agreement, it may well be that the Obama folks particularly wanted Ifill based on her experiences interviewing Obama.

Posted by: Crank at October 1, 2008 4:03 PM

Why do I get the feeling you wouldn't be writing this if O'Reilly was asking the questions. You should worry more about how a candidate who feel she could step into the Oval Office answers questions from anybody. You think Putin would worry that he was being partisan?

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at October 1, 2008 4:14 PM

First of all, I can't imagine the alternative universe where O'Reilly or anybody else on the Right would get to moderate a general election debate. Hume is about the only one who'd even get considered. Second, I'm no fan of him, never have been. Third, pretty much everybody would know that O'Reilly's not an "objective" journalist but a right-wing populist blowhard.

Posted by: Crank at October 1, 2008 4:21 PM

This was all known at the time of the debate negotiations. Old news. My guess is that they are doing two things, 1) lowering expectations, and 2) providing their Jesus Campers with reasons to continue to argue for Palin's competence even if she loses.

By the way, I don't think she will do poorly...I think this is not going to be the blowout pundits want...and the spin will be pundits saying, "she was tough, stood her ground, not as bad as expected", etc.

Basically, there is no win for Obama in these scenarios, and the House vote on the package will probably kill the spin on it either way...

Posted by: AstrosFan at October 1, 2008 5:12 PM

This is another case of fake outrage by nut jobs like Malkin. Do your research people history of these debates, the moderator asks questions prepared by someone else and enforces time to keep it all flowing. She will disclose she wrote the book, fire all gone. But if Palin continues the babble fest people of like Malkin will blame Ifill. I wonder who is claiming victim politics this time oops, they are already doing it.
What was Palin's reason for not having a passport?

Posted by: javaman at October 1, 2008 5:43 PM

If Palin seems only marginally coherent, if she manages to complete grammatically correct sentences, if she arrives wearing clothes and walking upright and leaves the same way, she will have survived to campaign another day - the bar has been set pretty darned low here, and the revelation that Ifill has written a book (which is about politics, mind you - it merely has Obama's name in the title) is simply the fifth ace up the GOPs' sleeve in case she appears as equally clueless as she has in her interviews with Couric. Their excuse is poised and ready.

I agree that Ifill should acknowledge her book, and then get to moderating in an unbiased manner. Lord knows the slightest hint of favoritism will be trounced upon like starving buzzards to roadkill.

Bear in mind that we are talking about a VP nominee who couldn't grasp the presence of mind to think of one single relevant periodical she has consistently found interesting in her storybook pursuit of exceptional public service. Bear in mind we are splitting hairs over a lady who thinks viewing the Russian coast from across the sea somehow qualifies as Foreign Policy experience. Bear in mind that this vapid, stubborn woman who is increasingly showing herself to be derisive, immature, and shockingly ill-informed has exhibited tremendous difficulty in understanding the most basic policy stances of not only her running mate, but also the guy who has been running the show for the last eight years. Lastly, admit to ourselves that she WILL be inaugurated, should a 72-year old guy who has been through an awful lot in his life find himself at the end of it.

Biden should have a couple of scotches beforehand, put his feet up and a broad smile on his face, and let the pretty lady roast herself.

Posted by: macsonix at October 1, 2008 5:46 PM

Damn...I was expecting a totally different response.

Posted by: macsonix at October 1, 2008 5:58 PM

a VP nominee who couldn't grasp the presence of mind to think of one single relevant periodical she has consistently found interesting

I knew you guys would be drawn to her refusal to answer that question like catnip. There was no upside whatsoever in answering that one.

Posted by: Crank at October 1, 2008 6:02 PM

Please explain. Are we so bloody jaded, so incredibly partisan, that we can't admit to ourselves that there is some intelligent writing and reporting out there which is not simply blather that's blatantly skewed either left or right? And for that matter, what's wrong with admitting that she reads a variety of things which reflect a cross-section of political and social commentary and insight?

She could have scored big points if she just said she reads the Bible more than anything else. Face it, Crank - the lights are on, but nobody's home up there.

Posted by: macsonix at October 1, 2008 6:13 PM

"Jim - I agree that it was not a great vetting job. That said, this was a negotiated agreement, it may well be that the Obama folks particularly wanted Ifill based on her experiences interviewing Obama."
Don't neglect the possibility that this book was already known of, and kept in pocket in case.
If you want to claim one side could have an advantage, don't neglect the other could see one as well.

"I knew you guys would be drawn to her refusal to answer that question like catnip. There was no upside whatsoever in answering that one."
The Economist? WSJ? Anchorage Daily News? Time? Cook's Illustrated? Christianity Today?
Plenty of upside in any of those.

It was an attempt to brush off the media, by making them seem useless, which panders directly to the base. She flubbed it, and it came out as marking her as unknowing.

Posted by: Dave at October 1, 2008 8:08 PM

Dude, I understand being a lefty drone that your masters have gone to lefty argument number 1 and decreed that Palin is an idiot (some past examples- Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan, Quayle and GW) and you, like the good flying monkey you are ,have gone forth and done their bidding.

Every election as an adult, every election that I have participated in, the left/media trots out this attack on one of the people on the Republican ticket. It is sort of funny that all the self proclaimed free thinking cynics on the left never seem to pick up on this and just fall in line.

Over a year ago, I was arguing with a bunch of lefties regarding Bush and I told them then at that time "Guys, I don't know who the Republican nominee is going to be or the VP candidate in 2008 but I guarantee you that the all of you, and the media, will be frothing at the mouth and yabbering about how one of the people on the ticket is a total "idiot", you really don't see that this is just a regular lefty attack " All of them exploded " That's BS", "That isn't what happens every election", blah, blah-Guess what all of them are saying now-Guess how they reacted when I called them on it.

Now macsonix-do you wan't me to tell you, right now, what you will be saying 4 years from now about the next Republican ticket ?(I expect Mc Cain to only serve one term if he wins) I can.

Why don't you print this post, put it in an envelope and write on it -Open October 1, 2012.

Posted by: dch at October 1, 2008 8:21 PM

"Bear in mind we are splitting hairs over a lady who thinks viewing the Russian coast from across the sea somehow qualifies as Foreign Policy experience."

Awesome. So now the fake quotes made up by SNL writers are attributable to a candidate?

Posted by: Joel B. at October 1, 2008 8:22 PM

Notice that the same people going after Palin still can not name 1)any accomplishment of Obama, 2)any example of leadership by Obama and 3)any Foreign Policy experience of Obama and, just a reminder he is their candidate for the top position.

Posted by: dch at October 1, 2008 8:26 PM

I'm as right wing as anyone and could give a crap less about this BS. Is there anyone out there who was unaware who Ifill was supporting in this election??? 99% of "journalist" are leftists. In a debate the affect is relatively small unless the moderator is a complete idiot. The bias stuff matters in the everyday reporting more than this. What they chose to pursue or ignore is the real bias. Obama has been running for president for a couple years and the media has shown no interest in examining his various warts. Palin has been the VP nominee for a month and the media has dived in every dumpster in Alaska looking for any thing that could be misconstrued as dirt. That is where the bias matters.

Posted by: LargeBill at October 2, 2008 12:06 AM


The dumpster diving is, and will continue to be, in full-force against Obama. What are the warts that you've uncovered? Get real.

The debate questions are ... well, look it up; I don't have time to explain to you hardheads how the freaking questions are chosen and how they've been meticulously pored over by the GOP (and agreed to by the DNC) to adhere to an environment where the underdog - that's Palin, buddy - is going to have minimal exposure.

Joel B:

Clearly, nobody told you that the SNL dialogue was nearly identical to Palin's commentary - nearly VERBATIM. Wake up and smell who is lying to you. You really owe it to yourself. Take it from a veteran who thought for years (some of them accurately) that McCain was on my side. It's not always how it seems. It's incumbent upon US now to do our own research - since campaigns of all parties stoop so low these days, and are willing to let little lies slip into the public dialogue. Witness the GWB attacks against McCain in 2004, alleging that he'd fathered an illegitimate baby - by a woman of a non-white race. Deplorable. Yet he has been our national and international leader for the last eight years.

In fact, I'll take this moment to acknowledge that the Dems - although I rail on them often - never went down that kind of road in the primaries, nor do I expect it before the election.


give me your address; I'll mail it to you in time for the election.


A comment would be appropriate right about now. That is, if you have anything to say.

Posted by: macsonix at October 2, 2008 2:13 AM

Ohhhhh yeah. It's just gets better & better by the day. What will be the cry from Crank on October 23?

Crank, Ifill was tabbed to moderate in late July. That she's authoring a book has been common knowledge for a couple months now. McCain had his chance to bitch about the choice back then.

But now that he's afraid of the damage that Palin can do, suddenly the choice of moderator is unfair. Hmmm.

Posted by: Mike at October 2, 2008 7:05 AM


People like Stanley Kurtz and various bloggers have looked into some of Obama's problems. However, the manstream media have shown no interest in Ayers relationship to Obama or Rezko's relationship, etc, etc, etc. The media has hidden behind the "unable to 100% verify" to defend not reporting negative stuff on Dems (John Edwards anyone?). Yet with Palin at the slightest hint of an issue they are going to press rather than waiting to verify. That is where their bias comes to play a role because people can't see it. If there was bias from a moderator in a televised debate the people could see it and would be able to decide for themselves if it mattered. That is why the fact the Ifill is far left is relatively unimportant for tonight.

Posted by: LargeBill at October 2, 2008 8:11 AM

LargeBill - I don't think this is a huge issue, but it is an easy, obvious call. Why people insist on digging in to defend Ifill's conduct is beyond me other than sheer partisanship.

Mike - So, why did Ifill not disclose the book to the Commission?

macsonix - What Bush attacks on McCain in 2004? Source? "the Dems - although I rail on them often - never went down that kind of road in the primaries" - So, just to be clear, you think anything that came up in the D primaries is fair game now, right? And I assume your response to dch is a concession. No, you guys can't name anything that shows Obama to be qualified for the job.

Posted by: Crank at October 2, 2008 10:10 AM

There's probably a great story in Obama's numerous donations from overseas and the fact that he refuses to give the names of his small donors. The odds that the media will look into this? Astronomical against.

Posted by: spongeworthy at October 2, 2008 11:38 AM

She should have disclosed it to the commission, and she should disclose it tonight. Come to think of it, it's a little silly for her not to disclose it tonight. It would give her a chance to plug her book in front of a captive, national audience.

Posted by: MVH at October 2, 2008 12:39 PM

It gets better. Palin told Couric she believes there is an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution.
Nice job vetting, McCain. Dobson weeps!
How about it Crank? Your VP nominee sees the underpinnings of the Roe v Wade decision in the Constitution of the United States.

Posted by: Berto at October 2, 2008 1:21 PM

why did Ifill not disclose the book to the Commission?

Maybe because everyone knew she was writing it?

How bout this: Palin can disclose that she's utterly unqualified to be VP, and Ifill will disclose her book.

(Meanwhile, you can disclose that you're a lawyer, David Wright can disclose that he plays baseball . . .)

Posted by: Mike at October 2, 2008 7:51 PM


No one has ever denied that there is a right to be secure in our privacy protected in the Constitution. What intelligent people have a problem with is the idiotic stretch that Justice Blackmun made to declare that murdering one's child is a privacy issue. The fact that Gov. Palin acknowledges an inherent right to privacy does not in anyway infer that she is weak on pro-life issues.

Posted by: LargeBill at October 2, 2008 8:08 PM

Nice try with the "murdering one's child" joke.
If you're confusing a child with a fetus, are you ready to give the "welfare queens" more cash for their children before they're born?

Posted by: Berto at October 3, 2008 7:18 PM

To all of those who are poo poohing Ifill's OBVIOUS PERSONAL FINANCIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST:
If Bill Bennett had been the moderator of this debate and had a book coming out on how great McCain was and it was scheduled for release on election day, every one of you would be screaming bloody murder - you know it and WE know it! So, SHUT UP about Ifill being an unbiased moderator! Ifill's no more unbiased than Terry McCaullife or John Dean - you can call a gekko a GD giraffe but it still ain't gonna be 17 ft. tall and eating leaves off the top of the trees!

Posted by: ConservaDad at October 3, 2008 10:16 PM

Unfortunately there is some untruth spoken here. It has not been "common knowledge" that Ifill was doing the book. She herself defended it by saying if you read "Time" magazine you would know. Well, not so many people read Time anymore. And it is not the responsibility of the committee, nor of the campaign to read Time to learn of financial conflicts of interest on the part of a prospective moderator. In fact the debate committee proclaimed they did not know until the pudding hit the fan. The McCain campaign found out at midnight the night before the debate.

The fact is that Ifill did not inform the debate committee. It had to be deliberate. She was dishonest.

The debate is over. Ifill was not a factor. Possibly because the whistle was blown on her. Who knows? Given that she had been very critical of Palin since the Convention, and blowing in Obama's ear througout the primaries, one could be suspicious.

Posted by: Oldflyer at October 3, 2008 11:40 PM
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