Folks are up in arms about Gwen Ifill’s supposedly pro-Obama book coming out on Inauguration Day. There have been calls for her to step down from her position as moderator* of the vice-presidential debate. How incredible that Drudge was able to bring this issue to light just in time one day before the debate!
Except. The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama has been listed on Amazon.com for a minute, and she’s made no secret of it, promoting the book in interviews:
The product description from Amazon:
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 BREAKTHROUGH is a remarkable look at contemporary politics and an essential foundation for understanding the future of American democracy.
Both journalist and scholar, Ifill is a person who is fascinated by politics, yet somehow remains non-partisan in an industry where pundits rule. This book seems like the perfect answer to that sorry Times Magazine piece which asked if Obama was “the end of black politics,” and I, for one, cannot wait to read it.
The conflict of interest is not that the book is pro-Obama. It isn’t. He’s one of the characters, but not the focus. But because his name is in the title, the book would probably sell well if it’s being released on the day Obama is inaugurated as president. Obviously, Ifill would have something to gain by Obama being elected.
However, the McCain campaign has pushed for stricter rules on the VP debate, meaning Gwen probably won’t be doing what Lehrer did during the McCain-Obama debate; none of that “I want you two to talk to each other” stuff. There will be little to no candidate interaction, and they’ll have the same questions to answer.
I don’t mind the people who object to Ifill moderating the debate because of the potential financial conflict. But I bristle at the assumption that her book favors Obama. As a person who is familiar with Ifill’s work, I expect nothing less than a nuanced, thoughtful examination of the evolution of black politics.
*I once timed/moderated a student body president debate in college, and after it was over, each side accused me of favoring the other. I learned a lot from that experience.
Tagged: gwen ifill