Thursday, October 2, 2008

Gwen Ifill Has a Distinguished Record of Impartiality and Objectivity

Some people are up in arms about the fact that Gwen Ifill, who will be moderating tonight's debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, has written a book about Obama - The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama - to be published on Inauguration Day.

Here, as a professor who has taught many a young journalist at Fordham University, is my response:

1. Total objectivity in reporting, debate-moderating, or any human activity is a myth. It doesn't exist. Everyone has feelings, opinions, and therefore biases.

2. That being the case, the best anyone can hope for is that the reporter or debate-moderator behave in an even-handed, impartial way. It's not that hard. All you need to do is make sure that you give equal attention, concern, awareness, support, and criticism to both sides.

3. In the case of Gwen Ifill, we have someone with a distinguished record of impartial reporting and commentary. Can the Republicans or anyone point to a single instance in which she did not behave impartially? I recall that, even in her response to Imus's racist comments about the Rutger's women's basketball team in 2007, Ifill was objective. And she herself had been a target, earlier, of Imus's racist mouth.

I'm looking forward to Ifill's professionalism in her moderation of tonight's debate.

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