NEW YORK—The moderator of Tuesday’s vice-presidential debate, Gwen Ifill, is currently writing a book that hails the “Age of Obama,” prompting some to question her credibility as an impartial moderator.
Her book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, argues that “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,” according to its product description on Amazon.zom.
Ifill, a moderator at the Public Broadcasting Agency program “Washington Week,” has set Jan. 20 as the book’s release date. That’s the same day as the inauguration for the new president—either Sen. John McCain of Arizona or Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.
“My dictionary defines ‘moderator’ as ‘the nonpartisan presiding officer of a town meeting,’” wrote conservative commentator Michelle Malkin on NationaReview.com. “But there is nothing ‘moderate’ about where Ifill stands on Barack Obama. She’s so far in the tank for the Democratic presidential candidate, her oxygen delivery line is running out.”
PBS is playing down the book, saying it’s nothing new.
"The book has been out there and discussed for months," said PBS spokeswoman Anne Bell, according to the Washington Post. "It's a non-issue."
Juan Williams, a senior correspondent with National Public Radio, came to Ifill’s defense in a Fox News interview.
"I think Gwen has been a terrific journalist," said Williams.
However, he admitted that the book could be seen as a conflict of interest, given the timing of its release.
"She spent a lot of time with Obama. She praises him in the book," he said. "The book's success [is] invested in Obama. … Suddenly everyone's going to be saying Gwen Ifill is somewhat biased against Gov. Palin."
Ifill’s book also features interviews with other prominent black leaders.
The description reads: “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.”
Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and Democratic nominee Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware will debate at 9 p.m. (EST) Oct. 2 at the Washington University in St. Louis, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.