Gwen Ifill’s Book Makes Her Partial? – Much Ado About Nothing

gwen-ifill2.jpgAll this talk about Gwen Ifill’s objectivity being compromised because she has a soon to be released book entitled, “Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama” sounds a lot like much ado about nothing.

I did a little searching and found that PBSs Jim Lehrer, moderator of several consecutive presidential debates dating back twenty years is quite a prolific author. According to, Jim Lehrer has authored at least 17 novels. In fact, his newest release, “Mack to the Rescue (Stories and Storytellers)” was released in hardcover in May 2008. Although fictional, it is a political satire that pokes fun of such things as privatization.

In September 2000, Lehrer’s book “The Last Debate” was released. This too, is a fictional account of a debate where, according to, the “Republican is a born-again racist, while the Democrat is not too swift but a decent fellow.”

Tom Brokaw’s book, “Boom!: Talking About the Sixties: What Happened, How It Shaped Today, Lessons for Tomorrow” will be released in paperback on Oct 14, 2008 according to Amazon. The editorial review says of the book , “it is held together by Brokaw’s own biographical time line and opinions.”

It’s common for journalists to author books. Their personal opinions may come through in the text. This does not render them incapable of remaining any more or any less objective during a debate than they would have been had they not written a book. It is preposterous to put forward the idea that journalists can’t do their jobs because they have their own personal opinions.

The table below contains a list of debate moderators from 2008 through 1988.

2008 ….1st-Jim Lehrer…..2nd- Tom Brokaw………. 3rd-Bob Schieffer…….VP Gwen Ifill.
2004…..1st-Jim Lehrer…..2nd-Charles Gibson……..3rd-Bob Schieffer……..VP Gwen Ifill
2000 ….1st-Jim Lehrer…..2nd-Jim Lehrer………….. 3rd-Jim Lehrer…………VP Bernard Shaw
1996…..1st-Jim Lehrer……2nd-Jim Lehrer…………….VP Jim Lehrer
1992 ….1st-Jim Lehrer……2nd-Carole Simpson……. 3rd-Jim Lehrer………..VP Hal Bruno
1988…..1st-Jim Lehrer……2nd-Bernard Shaw………..VP Judy Woodruff

Source: Commission on Presidential Debates

Note: There were only two presidential debates in 1996 and 1988

sharon-kyle.gifI think this assertion about Gwen Ifill is an absurd ploy to get more buzz going about Palin and possibly give the right an excuse for Palin’s inevitably poor perfomance at tonight’s debate.

by Sharon Kyle–

Sharon Kyle is the Publisher of the LA Progressive.

Other Articles by Sharon Kyle


  1. natoir1 says

    I fell that the last part of her debate had race tones for people like dont vote for Obama …..bloodline ,handing down though generation children talking to future children then past, freedom,in two sentences! Check it out !

  2. Jason says

    Lets have a little intellectual honesty here. How many of those books by other moderators focused on one of the candidates, even going so far as to include his name in the title?

    At times like these, even the appearance of a conflict of interest needs to removed. There is a severe confidence problem with the system these days and this does not help the situation. Sometimes people must put aside their personal desires for the good of the country.

    I am not going to vote for either Obama or McCain since I will no longer support these 2 corrupt parties. However, I recognize that faith must be restored to the system and this situation on hinders that recovery.

    • Sharon Kyle says


      I think intellectual honesty is important and essential but it’s compromised without facts. To be frank, I don’t know how many of the past or present moderators were/are selling books while serving as moderator. You bring up a point that is not altogether irrelevant, the title of the book. I’m assuming you are alluding to the question of economic gain. Well, every author writes for economic gain as well as for other reasons. The reason I wrote this piece is to point out that this is not a unique instance nor is it an indicator of conflict of interest. Ifill’s book, whether Obama wins or losses, will sell because the year 2008 marked a turning point in American history for elections, race, and gender.

      I am a citizen journalist. Anyone wishing to find out how many moderators have also had books on in bookstores while they were moderating should do a little digging. Personally, I was surprised that Lehrer had penned no less than 17 books.

      • Jason says

        I find it quite amusing that you say that my statements are compromised without facts yet, without barely drawing a breath, you admit you don’t know what the facts are. That’s hardly a position from which to be casting aspersions. Perhaps next time it would be best to actually check the facts before saying someone else’s point of view is lacking for them.

        It matters not whether its economic gain or a furtherance of political ideology. As I said, the mere appearance of impropriety furthers the damage to the credibility of the system. On that basis alone, someone whose true interest is that of the good of the country over themselves would recuse themselves. Unfortunately, this understanding, this ability to sacrifice for the greater good seems to be lost with people today and explains much concerning the state of our union.

        • Sharon Kyle says

          It’s clear you missed my point and I apologize if I didn’t make it clear. I did NOT say that your statements were compromised for lack of facts. Please reread the sentence. There is no mention of you in it. It is a statement referencing the lack of information out there in general on this particular matter.

          Because this accusation is rarely if ever lodged against moderators of presidential or vice presidential debates, I thought it odd that I’d find so many books written by Lehrer and at least one other moderator. Yet I’ve heard nothing about them. You and I are making two different points. Neither point negates the other.

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