Moderator of the VP Debate’s Conflict of Interest and Potential Delay the Debate?



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If you haven’t seen the headlines blazed across the screen at Drudge, you haven’t seen the breaking news that Gwen Ifil, the moderator for tomorrow’s Vice Presidential Debate has a book coming out called The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.

Let me unequivocally state – she should not moderate the debate.  Regardless of whether the book is pro-Obama or not, she has a overtly obvious vested interest in his election.  If he wins, her book should sell better.  To me it is unconscionable to take this position as moderator knowing you have this book coming out.

The McCain campain states they were not aware of the book.  I haven’t heard commentary from the Obama campaign, whether they knew about it or not. Regardless, the debates should be free from overt accusations of pandering to a particular candidate.  Beyond that, this will now overshadow the debate and the pundints will assess her performance as much as Biden and Palin’s after the debate is complete.

I’ve never been a fan of Gwen Ifil.  I thought her performance in the 2004 debate was poor (though I didn’t think she was as ‘in the can’ for Edwards as some might claim).  Her questions were not as insightful as I believe they could have been.   In the few times I’ve watched her, I’ve never found her to be a correspondant or pundint that makes you think or provides insight with any releveant detail to support her position.  With this event, she has now proven her self to be less than open and honest.

Her moderation of this debate, would probably benefit the Democratic candidate.  Regardless, the discussions of the issues should be honest and should allow the voters an unfettered chance to judge the candidates. 

At this late point, this could pose some huge problems.   The McCain/Palin ticket has a reason they could withdrawl until a more suitable moderator is found.  They could go back with Jim Lehrer in two weeks (since he would want to prepare).  Charlie Gibson would be a possibility, as he’s done them in the past.  Perhaps, for a short turn-around time, you’d even go with someone more shallow like Larry King.  The problem is, both campaigns would have to agree, and that may not be an easy task. 

Don’t discount the ploy to move this debate.  The GOP, rightfully, should be concerned about the objectivity that Ifil would bring.

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