Thursday, October 02, 2008

Gwen Ifill should step aside


There was a time I thought the Commission on Presidential Debates was one of the last honest operations in politics. I once envisioned a high minded, ethical group of people who picked likewise moderators to carry out the important duties of moderating presidential and vice-presidential debates.

That perception changed when I learned that tonight's vice-presidential debate moderator, Gwen Ifill, has a vested interest in an Obama victory. From various press reports, Ifill has a book that is scheduled to come out in mid January about the rise of politicians like Obama.

Ifill has played the race card in some articles by stating how white moderators are not questioned about fairness with white candidates. However, this is not about race. This is about pure financial interest. If Barack Obama wins and becomes President, a book about him will sell well. If Obama loses, the book will likely end up on the bargain book table in bookstores immediately.

The situation regarding Thursday night's vice-presidential debate is unprecedented. Never before in the 48 years of history of televised national debates has a moderator had a financial interest based upon the success of one ticket over another. Think on it. Imagine the outcry if Ifill was planning to release a book about how McCain will act as President.

White, black, yellow, purple, green, whatever one's skin color, a person with a financial interest in the outcome of the national election has no business being a moderator of a presidential or vice-presidential debate. Ms. Ifill should do the right thing and step aside, If she does not, if the mainstream media has any shred of intellectual honesty left in it, it should condemn her for her lack of personal ethics and demand a revamping on how the Commission on Presidential Debates selects moderators.

The Ifill situation brings in to question about whether the commission should exist at all. Apparently, it can not do its job of having truly neutral moderators running the debates. Maybe it is time to save the taxpayers the money and just let the campaigns negotiate on their own about debates.

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