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Why The Pro-Obama Moderator Is Not A Big Deal … Yet

Posted by Casey on October 1, 2008

I’ve been seeing posts and stories on the moderator for the upcoming Vice Presidential debate, and I am a little miffed with my fellow conservatives on this one. The moderator is Gwen Ifill, and she is an outspoken Obama supporter who also happens to have a book on Obama coming out soon. Ifill was also justifiably criticized for her undeniably biased coverage of the Republican convention. She’s a pro-Obama lib … plain and simple.

Conservative bloggers have been pointing to the definition of moderator as an argument against her. This is blatant spin. Anyone who knows me, or has read my posts for any length of time knows I am a definition guy. If you change the definition … you change the argument. That includes the spin being used by my fellow conservative bloggers. A moderator doesn’t have to have no bias in their heart, but only in their conduct in their duties. Otherwise we’d have no moderators at all, because we all have a bias. The question isn’t if you are biased … it’s can you put it aside to be fair.

While Ifill is clearly a questionable choice because she has a financial interest due to her book on Obama … the blogosphere is making entirely too much of this too soon. We can all agree that this was not the best choice. If for nothing else, the impression that she will be unfair. However, the impression she’ll be unfair doesn’t mean she will actually be unfair. Though I do agree with Michelle Malkin and others that Ifill should publicly disclose her book from the moderator’s podium just prior to asking questions so everyone watching knows about it. I also agree with Greta that the McCain campaign should have been told she had a book coming out. The fact that they weren’t is clearly suspicious.

I’m a staunch conservative, and everyone in my community knows it. There is no illusion that I am anything but a right-leaning person. I was asked to host a debate on a college campus yesterday between the college Democrat and Republican groups, and I was beyond fair in spite of my internal bias. Did I want to help the Republican group at times? Yes, but I didn’t. I was constantly biting my lip every time I heard one of the debaters say something completely untrue, but I did bite my lip. I treated both sides fairly, and for the most part stayed out of the debate unless my duties as a moderator dictated that I intervene.

I think it is presumptive of other conservative bloggers to say that Ifill will not behave in the same manner I did. We simply don’t know, and should reserve our criticism for after the debate if criticism is even warranted. Otherwise Ifill’s critics may eat crow if she turns out to be a fair moderator. This is one of those times where a preemptive strike is unnecessary, and unwise.

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7 Responses to “Why The Pro-Obama Moderator Is Not A Big Deal … Yet”

  1. I wish I could agree with you in this instance but I cannot. There is too much about Gwen Ifill running contrary to her being able to put her obvious bias aside and moderate the debate in an impartial manner – the “Age of Obama“, her special pieces in Essence, her fawning over Michelle Obama on MSNBC, and her obvious disdain for Sarah Palin after the convention acceptance speech.

  2. Host said

    I can certainly understand that point of view. Things definitely seem fishy since PBS didn’t inform McCain’s campaign that she had a book coming out, but I’ll wait until after the debate to see how she does before I go after her. Hopefully, I won’t need to, and the debate will be fair.

  3. But, isn’t it a little too late, after they have already been unfair, to be concerned. That becomes more of a reactive posture than a proactive posture, doesn’t it? I would like to be able to agree with you and give Ifill the benefit of the doubt but there is just such a huge smack of impropriety already on her part.

  4. Host said

    If I weren’t a moderator myself I’d probably agree with you. The McCain camp should make this an issue, and I agree with you about her bias. The question for me is if she will provide equal time to each candidate, and fair questions on the national stage. If she can’t … she’ll endure the wrath of an angry populous. If she can … everyone who went after her will be subject to that criticism. That may ultimately hurt our cause with this one.

    Sometimes the best way to win a fight is to counter punch. If you are too aggressive in a fight you might get sloppy, and get caught. I’ve got this feeling that this is one of those times we don’t want to reach in too far with a right cross because we are going to get caught with a left hook.

  5. Perhaps you’re right. But, I can’t help but remain skeptical at this juncture.

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  7. Host said

    Oh we are all skeptical, but I do hope I’m right on this one.

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