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Gwen Ifill: Biden and Palin each had an agenda (and it wasn't debating each other)

So how did the moderator of Thursday's debate between vice presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden think it went?

"The understanding was that we were going to have a debate," Gwen Ifill told Tom Brokaw of NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday morning. But, she went on, it didn't exactly turn out that way.

"The moderator's job is to control their debate.  If they have decided, as Joe Biden decided, that he was going to debate John McCain, and [Palin] decided she was going to give a stump speech to the American people, there's very little a moderator can do other than say, 'No, no, no, listen, I asked a question.  Please, please answer.' "

In repeatedly switching topics from the question that was asked to one of her talking points, Palin "blew me off, I think is the technical term," Ifill told Brokaw, who will moderate Tuesday's debate between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Ifill's performance as moderator received mixed reviews, even from the same publication: On the same day that the Los Angeles Times' media writer, James Rainey, praised the host of PBS' "Washington Week" for showing "reason, fairness and class," she was blasted in a Times editorial as "singularly inarticulate."

But there's one aspect of the experience she appeared to really enjoy: "I got to say, being portrayed by Queen Latifah is not a bad thing," Ifill said of the 2002 Oscar nominee who portrayed her in the debate sketch on "Saturday Night Live."

-- Leslie Hoffecker

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Comments () | Archives (21)

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So, Gwen thinks its 'not a bad thing' to be portrayed by the person who some years ago suggested that blacks kill white people. This is NOT some partisan hype. Ms. Latiffa is a racist from way back... Oh, that's right. Racism is a one way street in America. Blacks are exempt. Like when 97% of the black community says that they will vote for Obama because he is black, that's not racist. Rather, they are all enlightened. Right. To those who want a culture war I say, be careful what you ask for.

Watching the VP debate did not help me make a decision on who to vote for. If you are looking for more information about Sarah Palin, I have a website to recommend.

It has in-depth links to hundreds of articles about Palin including many from newspapers and TV stations in Alaska. It has lots of rare footage, including her telling the ‘08 convention of the Alaskan Independence Party, whose aim is to give Alaska a vote on seceding from the U.S., to “keep up the good work” - and her complaining four months ago that Hillary Clinton was whining about “sexist” media coverage.

The site is non-partisan and its’ editors and volunteers include an Emmy-award winning CNN reporter, the former operating editor of the Christian Science Monitor’s web site, the former head of NPRs News Blog and the Executive Director of the Online News Association -

They have compiled an amazing amount of info on Palin. I recommend reading it.

If Republicans are such Christians, Why do they support John McCain Knowing his wife is the hier to Budwiser King of D.W.I’s?Sounds like they are a bunch of pagans. Does Palin Know about Cindy’s ties to the Liquer Industry?

The fact that many Republicans were happy with Palin's performance just prooves that, in their minds, it was never, ever about substance. An obvious truth, but a dissapinting one nonetheless.

I was disappointed with the Biden/Palin debate because I felt that Palin did not answer several of the questions that were asked and she was not challenged to do so. Also, her cute little remarks and gestures were not well received. Do we really want someone who is running for V.P. to act so silly? In my opinion she does a does not represent women very well. Many of her answers went back to her experience as a Mayor or Governor in Alaska - we want to know what she will do as a V.P. of the United States.

JEF, Vineland, NJ

Gwen Ifill complained today on Meet the Press about Sarah Palin and that Sarah Palin didn't stick to the rules of the debate. Wasn't it Gwen's job as moderator to maintain CONTROL. Gwen was weak because she knew it was inappropriate for her to be the moderator because of her book. She put herself into that position, and then waited until after the debate to slam Palin. I've never seen a moderator do this before.

Ifill was off in the first five mintues because as she said, Neither answered questions about the economy, and she promised to hold them accountable and then never did,. Ifilll lost control of the debate.

Funny thing is Palin's got everyone. Meet the Press was all about HER today..they complained about her but couldn't stop talking about her. Tom b. can't hide his bias.

Sam states, "Racism is a one way street in America. Blacks are exempt. Like when 97% of the black community says that they will vote for Obama because he is black, that's not racist. Rather, they are all enlightened. Right. To those who want a culture war I say, be careful what you ask for."

Are you kidding me? Since when? Black people are the most racist people I know - and I can say this with authority because I AM Black. Of course it's ridiculous for 97% of Blacks to vote for Obama because he's Black. So instead of spewing your own racist views and prophecying "culture war" (when you really mean "race war"), maybe you should, oh, I don't know, actually SPEAK to Black people sometime and get a range of viewpoints, instead of making sweeping, inaccurate generalizations.

Gwen Ifill had an agenda too, Her questions were manipulative and designed to embarrass Palin, while she lobbed softballs at Biden. Republicans should boycott these phony debates, which are nothing but gotcha sessions for the driveby media. Gwen Ifill is so obviously biased and has such a conflict of interest that if she had an ounce of integrity she would not have moderated. But then again, she's a liberal fascist, so integrity is out of the question. If you want to see honest discussion from the candidates, you are not going to get it with these biased moderators. I say, boycott these phony debates. BIden lied at least 14 times, Ifill never called him on a single lie. She's terrible.

Here is an excellent analysis of the manipulative, biased questioning techniques used by liberal debate "moderators", using several examples from Ifill's performance at the so-called "debate".

Sam, you're confused about which black female singer was accused of saying that. It wasn't Queen Latifah.

This article does not even mention the blaring conflict of interest surrounding Ifill as moderator. She did her best, but her decision to not disclose her authorship was reckless. An analogous situation in the legal or medical community would result in complete loss of confidence by the mainstream. Imagine a committee chairman heading the approval of cholesterol drug for the FDA writing a book titled "High Cholesterol, the Silent Killer."

I think the emphasis is on the fact that the bar is set so low for Sarah Palin when our country and economy are at its lowest. - the dirt, scandals, incompetence, palinisms, lies and deceptions of Sarah Palin! - social news for the Barack Obama nation

Hey Hovanti you are really really funny... a non-partisan
website developed by a guy from CNN and one from NPR what a joke... One is the Clinton News Network and the other is so far in left field the only thing on any of their stations that is not pro-democrat is bluegrass music and they use my money to spread this crap.

I think they all look alike to Sam, at least according to his comment all black people are the same. (And if you're mistaking Queen Latifah for Sister Souljah you probably think they all look and sound and think alike too.) But don't the race warmongers all say that?

There's racism everywhere, but bitterness and a sense of personal grievance have rarely been known to make things better.

This was suppossed to be a debate. Not "talk to the American people." What Palin did was laughable at best and those of us who were undecided came away from that wondering why we would ever be undecided! She was obviously good for Alaska. But she should have just stayed over there. This uneducated woman has made a mockery of the GOP and MCcain made a dumb choice. He could have won with a strong military, economy, or ANY OTHER PICK! This one proves that he's lost his mind. She is in idiot when it comes to World issues, and this is not a beauty pageant or a tiny town election. I supported him for a lot of years, and this decision really has backfired. She is the wrong woman for this job. Obama firmly has my vote now.

Sarah Palin avoided answering questions in the debate, refused to discuss deregulation She even went so far as to say she would discuss what she wanted! Her performance leaves much to be desired. She cannot wink her way to the White House! Americans are just too savvy!

Reading these letters is SO depressing. The amount of sheer ignorance displayed by the comments has me really worried that people are accepting the lies and nonsense the Republican Party is spewing out. It's very sad that people will continue to vote against their own self-interest despite: 1) being led into a bogus war, 2) the destruction of our environment, 3) the worst economic meltdown in history. When Clinton left office we had peace and prosperity. Why would anyone continue to vote for these fools after the past 8 years??? Reality check???

I think one of the biggest problems with this debate is the double standard placed on Palin. The media had incredbily low standards for her going into the debate, but then seemed to back-pedal on that and say she didn't do well enough after she had obviously far succeeded their originally low expectations. Ifill complains that she didn't truly debate, but she is, after all, only the VP candidate, not the presidential candidate, and the VPs only have one shot at a debate, i.e. one shot to get voters on their side. If she and her strategists thought that the best way for her to do that was to turn on her undeniable charm and re-iterate her strongest selling points, than so be it. Joe Biden and his strategists obviously had a different tactic. In the end, these two candidates are NOT the ones we should be focusing on at this point, and it is somewhat unnerving that they (Palin specifically) are getting more attention than the two men who are running for President.

I also find it interesting that Ifill points out that Joe Biden chose to debate John McCain...I thought he was there to debate Sarah Palin.

Sam, it wasn't Queen Latifah, idiot. . it was Sister Soulja but I'm sure you can't tell one black from the next. Last, how can you make such a blanket, racist satement like 97% blacks are voting for Obama because he is black. I really shouldn't have responded to your dumb statement because it doesn't even deserve a response. History has shown, the majority of African Americans as well as middle-to low class families have voted Democrat for various reasons before this particular election and if Hillary had won, it would have been the same margins for her as well. I abhor racists. Sam, you are an absolute nothing.

UUU tell me what Queen Latifah song said Kill white folks...During her time rap wasnt about killing at all...I wanna know what rap you talking about.

I am so happy that the GOP and people like Sam want a culture/race/civil war and this time there is no Martin Luther King or other peace loving Whites and Blacks to stop us. Sept 11 and the Beltway Sniper changed the dynamics so we don't fear the Nazi/Aryan Brotherhood or whites like Sarah Palin or Sam the poster with his racial ramblings. We are ready for white conservatives and have been waiting for 40 years. Sam you people know what you have to do to get your dream race war.

Some of Us "Mud People" are ready and love the sweet sounds of violence Sam, so bring your war !!!!


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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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