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Gwen Ifill to play hurt in Thursday's VP debate

On Thursday, Gwen Ifill will reprise her 2004 role as moderator for the debate between the major-party vice presidential candidates by posing the questions for this year's pair of running mates. But when the veteran PBS journalist convenes the nationally televised encounter, she will do so in PBS journalist Gwen Ifill hobbled condition.

Ifill broke one of her ankles last week while navigating a staircase. The mishap was debate-related; she was toting research material for it when she missed a step. But the injury won't keep her from traveling to St. Louis for the faceoff between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.

Ifill recently talked with the Associated Press about the challenge awaiting her. The story took note of the unprecedented interest in the debate, spurred both by Palin's newness to the national scene and questions about how she'll perform.

Here's the lead to the AP piece:

Being selected the moderator for a vice presidential debate is something like opening a suitcase on "Deal or No Deal" and finding $1,000. Nice prize, but it's no jackpot.

Not this year. The Oct. 2 showdown between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin will likely put Gwen Ifill before the biggest TV audience of her life.

Indeed, the political world (that includes us) would be shocked if the viewership doesn't easily exceed the somewhat paltry numbers for Friday's initial debate between John McCain and Barack Obama.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press

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Do not doubt it. Biden will destroy Palin. Being fiesty is not important as being intelligent.

Gwen Ifill is a class act. I wish her a speedy recovery for her injury.

I can't imagine a better choice for moderator. Gwen, take care of your ankle, but don't miss the debate!


Gwen will be great. She's a wonderful anchor, commentator, and reporter and I can't think of anyone better to keep things going smoothly.

And, for what it's worth, it will no doubt be somewhat comforting to Sarah Palin to have a woman moderator.

Yep, it's gonna be one interesting debate, lots of dynamics in play.

Biden - 1
Palin - 0

This debate will break ratings records. People love to see a train wreck and they think there will be one on Thursday. Will it be gaf-proned Biden or substance weak Palin.

Will Biden hurt himself by being too kind or too harsh or talking all over himself? Will Palin give one of her incoherent run-on answers full of talking points that don't resemble an answer to any question asked that night.

In any event, Obama and McCain need to prepare for a quiver of arrow aimed squarely at their backs.

I saw Ms Ifill at a Washington Week taping here in Atlanta and she was amazing. She's smart as a whip and has enough charisma to make anything interesting. Its about time she won the journalistic jackpot.

I am so glad that Ifil will be moderating... that way no one can say that any male was "ganging up" on Palin. Also Ifil is outstanding as a moderator. She does great work.

This lady is a well understood liberal democrat, is it just not simply silly to cast her in this 'Moderator' role ?

This is a story? Does she speak with her ankles? Is there a need for her to wander about the stage to do the job of moderator? I can't imagine a sillier story and Google had it as the first headline of the group. Sheesh!

Can't they find a Moderate to moderate the debates? Lehrer and Ifill profess neutrality, but they are Democrats! Maybe they could get Olbermann to moderate the next one -- at least it wouldn't be boring.

Wow! Do you know this lady has a booking coming out Jan 2009 on inaugration day......about OBAMA? Isn't this sort of biased? She may have to really really play hurt this time. Check out

Great moderator selection. Excellent!!

Sarah you've accomplish a lot in your young career, mayor of a city, Governor of Alaska! But have you ever been a "community organizer?"

Sarah Palin stands for God, country and family! Everything most American's stand for! But why do the left hate her so? They hate Sarah Palin even more than they hate Bin Laden or Al Queda!!!

Ifill is the best. It's important that she not lower expectations for Palin. She must be able to meet the standards for any Vice President or President--in terms of breadth and depth of understanding or foreign and domestic policy:

Head of State

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
McCain and Couric Spar on Gotcha Journalism

COURIC: Over the weekend, Gov. Palin, you said the U.S. should absolutely launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan to, quote, "stop the terrorists from coming any further in." Now, that's almost the exact position that Barack Obama has taken and that you, Sen. McCain, have criticized as something you do not say out loud. So, Gov. Palin, are you two on the same page on this?

MCCAIN: Now, just a minute, Katie. I have to step in here. That's another example of the media's "Gotcha journalism"...

COURIC: But, it was a question from a citizen. How is a citizen asking a candidate a question an example of what you call "Gotcha Journalism?"

MCCAIN: Because it was hard, Katie.

We don't want Gov. Palin to be asked questions, unless she is prepared for them. When she is prepared, as she will be before the debate, she sounds intelligent, knowledgeable and feisty. But when she has not been prepared, she sounds lost and incoherent.

We can't have people asking her questions when she has not had time to be prepared with an answer.

COURIC: But, Sen. McCain, I have to say, you are 72-years old. Actuarial preditions show that if you were to be elected, Gov. Palin would have a 1 in 5 chance of actually becoming President. These are perilous times--unprecedented crises in financial markets, tensions across a wide range of critical foreign policy arenas.

Shouldn't we have a Vice President, and a potential President, who actually understands these issues, beyond the preparation necessary for a debate?

For example, here is her response to a question on the economy:

COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

COURIC: That answer, Sen. McCain, as noted by Fareed Zakaria, is incoherent.

MCCAIN: Yes. (nodding head)

COURIC: Well, isn't it actually important that a potential President actually comprehend issues? That is, beyond debate preparation?

MCCAIN: No, Katie. That's what I mean by "gotcha journalism". It's obvious from these prior interviews that Palin has little to no comprehension of fiscal policy and economics. For heaven's sake, she received a "D" in macroeconomics in college! And, as I've I said in the past, I have little understanding of economic issues myself.

No, what's important, Katie, is that she *sound* like she understands the issues. In the debate. If she is sufficiently prepared, she can give an illusion of understanding the issues--even if she is giving answers with the prepared and practiced spontaneity and content necessary to give that illusion force.

Given that the bar is set at the lowest standard imaginable, Katie, if she accompanies that performance with sufficient charm, we believe that media will follow, into focusing on the change from that low standard, and on those superficial entertainment values--you know, Katie, (McCain smiles through tight lips and squinting eyes and moves his hands up and down)--"She certainly appears to be more confident tonight; she appears more poised, coherent, humorous"--rather than her actual readiness to be President.

So, Katie, we want them to focus on that difference, on her debate preparation, rather than on her actual well-demonstrated Presidential unreadiness. And that's what I mean by "gotcha journalism."

KATIE: But if I understand you correctly, Sen. McCain, you actually believe that it's not important that she understand the issues actually facing the nation...

MCCAIN: Right.

COURIC: On which many people's very jobs, health and life will rely at this critical time...


COURIC: All that really matters creating a standard so low that she actually is rewarded for her widely seen and repeatedly demonstrated lack of knowledge and understanding. We would be using what is essentially a remedial standard for Presidential capability--instead of one of actual Presidential capacity.

Sen. McCain, no one can gain Presidential-level understanding in days. And in the office of the Presidency, with its intense crises and unforseeable events, she will not be prepared for each unpredictable day, as she was for the debate.

Yet you expect media to focus on these values, rather than actual readiness to be President. That's what you mean by "gotcha journalism"?

MCCAIN: Exactly. Once again, Katie--we "gotcha."

COURIC: How can you expect the media to fall for that?

MCCAIN: It worked for Bush.

Head of State

Ifil is a great professional and her connections to Obama should not be a factor.

Most importantly, she does not share the pathological hatred for Palin that so many liberals have.

Moderate does not mean unbiased. Get over it.

Ifill has a book coming out on the very day the next president is sworn in.

Oh and it's called, "Politics in the Age of Obama."

Yeah, no conflict of interest there.

And if you read some of the advanced copy, you would think she needed a smoke after each chapter she finished about our new Messiah.

I believe that Gwen Ifill will continue to be the outstanding professional that she always has been. She has a track record that speaks for itself.

Writing a book about "the age of Obama" should be an automatic disqualifier.

I don't see the dems accepting O'Reilly. Limbaugh or Hannity as moderators.

Hypocritcal and more than biased.

If the GOP has a chance to win in Nov. they should consider dumping Ms.Palin and replace her with an experienced ,bright woman governor who comes from a state where they could pick up many electoral votes.
This would also help salvage our reputation in the world as a nation that can admit mistakes and make prudent corrections.

The moderator of the VP debate is writing a book about OBama, and releasing it on his anticipated inauguration date. AND, the LATimes doesn't even mention this deplorable conflictof interest. This is reckless.

If this was a real article, it would have mentioned that Ifill book on the Age of Obama comes out on the day he is to be sworn in as president and that she should have the ethics to recuse herself from the debate. She has a financial conflict because her book will not sell if he is not elected. Call for her to suspend her debate and get an impartial moderator.

IF Gwen "Obama" Ifill is allowed to moderate, Shawn Hannity should as well. What a bunch of BS. Gwen is no more journalistically neutral than I am. Maybe she will suprise and rise above her book and own bias, but I doubt it. She has a personal financial stake in getting Obama elected and should never have been allowed to man the mike this thursday

Gwen Ifill's new book about Obama comes out on Inauguration Day. Her liberal sympathies are tried and true. The obvious bias is just too blatant. Must the books be cooked against Gov. Palin. Is there NO ONE in the press who can be perceived as unbiased, or at least without a financial interest in Obama's victory? Why not have Sean Hannity or Bill O'Rielly moderate? Each has shown more fairness in interviews with their political oposites than has Gwen Ifill.

Gwen Ifill is writing a book on Obama to be released 1/20/09.

Anyone who believes this woman can be an objective moderator seriously needs to rethink that. There is absolutely no way the liberal media would allow a moderator who wrote a warm and fuzzy book on Palin.

I guess writing about her leg problem is somehow more relevant to the whole story.

Its clear that Gwen is in the tank for Obama with the book that she had coming out. Its a straight conflict of interest and she should at least make a statement regarding that at the beginning of the televised debate. This will not be the slightest bit fair. But what do real American's expect from PBS anyway...... I hope Palin cleans Biden's clock and diplomatically shuts Gwen down.

I'm no longer surprised by the biased media and their blatant manipulation of the American public. Speaking about some broken foot instead of the real bit of info we should have been informed of, is ridiculous.

Gwenn Ifill is little more than an unethical stooge for the Obama Campaign.

She should resign the post immediately. We do not need yet another liberal "press secretary" for Obama masquerading as objective.

Note how the Associated Press refuses to tell the truth about Ifill's Obama book.

I hope the moderator makes a full disclosure of her book, "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama", before the VP debate begins. She may have a financial stake in the election outcome since the book should do better if Obama is elected.

I went to the "Commission on Presidential Debates" and it says "The organization, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) corporation, sponsored all the presidential debates in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004." What a lie, is a moderator that is LIberal, Democrat, and has money vested in who wins this election because of a book going to be fair -- the elites must think we are all asleep. What a joke!!!

Gwen Ifill is biased and hope will withdraw from moderating the debate. Good luck Sara. She is smart and will win. I hope Gwen will ask Biden how much money has he donated to charity last year. I am asking my Catholic friends think again before you vote for Obama. God Bless Macain and Palin.

The selection of Gwen Ifill is a joke as she has a significant financial interest in a Obama presidency and is a Obama supporter.

This is just another example of how Obama's Chicago style politics is working to buy an election. The current Ohio joke is another.

To: steve rodriguez
Re: post Sept 30, 06:21 PM

Why does the left hate Sarah Palin more than they hate Bin Laden?
B/c they know bin Laden won't become President of the U.S., so there's no need to ask people not to vote for him.
It's not hate actually, it's concern. Bin Laden doesn't appear to be on a roll right now, so you can hate bin Laden more, yet be more concerned about Palin.

Ifil has a forthcoming book extolling the wonders of Obama. Are they kidding??? This is suppose to be an unbiased debate moderator?

This will backfire on the libs and their media pals.

It is interesting that many posting here are not seeing Gwen Ifil as the professional that she is. She has a program, Washington Week, which covers all aspects of politics without judging either side. She goes to great lengths to be as objective as she can as are all of the guests. She is writing a book about race and politics which she is very qualified to write. More than anything, she is a very decent person who deserves the respect of others.

BS BS BS... The media in this country has caused me to really hate! I'm now saying good bye to all news except
fox. Atleast they attempt to cover both sides

Here's to more crooks in America!


How about that love book she is writing about Obama.
I am so damn glad I have never given a dime to PBS, other
what is forced from me by those weak jerks in congress...

She just wrote a pro-Obama book coming out on inauguration day and Random House is banking
on the outcome of this election.
Having Ifill moderate is a train wreck!

Gwen is writing a book, but it is not a political leaning book which promotes Obama. The book entitled "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama" is about "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."

For more information, see...

If you guys would actually read something rather than take Fox's word for it all of the time, you might learn something.

This is totally ridiculous. She could possibly be president. She can't select world leaders to talk to. VP and Presidents should have enough knowledge to answer any questions whether the person is liberal, moderate, conservative, Russian, black, white, native american. The American people aren't stupid. The McCain campaign agreed with the selection of Gwen so shut up and watch the debate. Then like Katie that asked a very very difficult questions, what do you read to keep you updated on national problems? Hannity question would have been, I know you read Time magazine for different views about national interest, can you spell time? Even if she performs great, she is already toast. The debate just shows she's crammed information in her head, there still is no there there. They should ask her had she been the presidential nominee would she have chosen a person already being investigated before she gets to Washington? Her selection is about McCain's judgment. He has none. Vote Obama and let her talk and talk and talk until she returns to the Alaskian investigation.

I guess I'm just old fashioned. IFill may be a great person and a wonderful moderator, but having just written and is now publishing a book that gushes over BHO and how wonderful and marvelous he is, how can she be considered unbiased?

If a moderator had done the same about McCain and gushed about him, does anyone really believe that the dems wouldn't have a total meltdown over that? If you don't think so, you're probably a dem or a lib or otherwise rather biased.

Gwen has a conflict of interest here. She should not be doing the debate. She is a pro-Obama supporter and has penned a book. She stands to gain financially if Obama wins. In addition, she has made ignorant remarks about Gov. Palin. She should be removed as moderator.

Truth in broadcasting is dead.
Gwen Ifill stands to make a lot of money selling her book if Obama wins.
Just another example of the VAST LEFT WING CONSPIRACY to turn America into a socialist, 3rd world country.
No more of my contributions to the DNC's mouthpieces, PBS and NPR.

Sarah you've accomplish a lot in your young career, mayor of a city, Governor of Alaska! But have you ever been a "community organizer?"

Posted by: steve rodriguez | September 30, 2008 at 06:18 PM

RESPONSE: No, I haven't. I was never a community organizer that taught organizations like ACORN to brutally attack and harass banks and credit unions to give ill-advised loans to risky individuals...of which has contributed significantly to the current economic meltdown. No, I am not Obama. But, I have been a mayor and currently a governor. That's more experience than the demoncratic candidate for president.

Good answer!!

Hopefully she breaks her other ankle too.
Why should someone who has a book about B Huessen Obama be able to do the "unbiased" moderating at the VP debate? I smell a RAT!

You can put lipstick on O'Reilly, Limbaugh or Hannity but they're no Ifill

OK what is the point, where is the scandal?. McCain has all lobbyists working for him. Some from Fannie May or Freddie Mack I forget.. My God Mitch McConnell wife is on Bush's cabinet and has close relatives who are Communist leaders in China? The former Republican leader’s in the Senate’s family owns one of the largest Heath Care providers in the nation yet oversaw health care programs in the senate. Lets not protest too loud!!!

For those that suggest Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity or similar types as moderators, here's the key difference:

Gwen Ifill is intelligent and has proven herself repeatedly as an effective moderator. Those "others" are idiots who's primary skill seems to be arguing only with themselves on a radio show. There's simply no comparison.

And why do we care if a moderator has a bias (either way)? Aren't both candidates going to answer the same questions?

And by the way, her book is not about Obama, but instead about a politics and race. In addition to covering the topic of Obama, it covers, let's see...oh! Colin Powell.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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