This week, the moderators were named for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates. The winners in this cycle are Jim Lehrer of PBS and Bob Schieffer of CBS, who will each moderate a Presidential debate, Candy Crowley of CNN, who will host a town hall debate between Obama and Romney, and Martha Raddatz of ABC, who will moderate the Vice-Presidential debate. These choices were all made by something called the Commission on Presidential Debates. But there was a lot of criticism aimed at these choices.
Fox News wanted to have one of its news anchors selected, but Obama’s campaign rejected it. Likewise, Romney’s campaign vetoed anyone from NBC. That’s fine with me, although I personally think that Chris Wallace and Chuck Todd ask some of the best questions on television. But that might have been the reason for their exclusion.
Univision was upset that none of the moderators are bilingual. Imagine the fun that would have ensued if a moderator would ask one question in English and the next in Spanish. But the individual who expressed the most ire was Gwen Ifill, from PBS. According to people who were present when the selections were made, she was livid. When contacted by the New York Times, she told them that she was ‘indeed disappointed’ at her rejection. I’m guessing that like many people, she may be suffering from some type of memory lapse, so I’ll help her out here.
In 2008, Ifill, as the rest of us recall, was picked to host the Vice-Presidential debate between Palin and Biden. However, she neglected to inform the CPD that she was in the midst of writing a book entitled ‘The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” Some cynical observers might think that that would give her a vested interest in seeking to provide the Democrats in a positive light, since “the Age of Obama” would be sort of short-lived if he had lost the election.
When her omission was revealed and calls arose to find another moderator, Ifill claimed that the book was non-partisan, since she also discussed Colin Powell in her tome. Well, after a lot of criticism, where she agreed to be unobtrusive, she was allowed to remain in her post. Her arrogance in demanding to stay on the job was only matched by her incompetence during the ensuing debate. Ifill would ask her pre-selected question, reading it very well. Then, both candidates would talk about whatever they wanted to, for the next 5 minutes or so. They could have had a doorknob on stage; it would have at least been shiny.
So let’s try to guess why she wasn’t picked. She lied (at least by omission) the last time she was selected. Then, she was perhaps the least competent debate moderator ever picked. I hope this helps, Gwen.