Saturday, October 4, 2008

Gwen Ifill: The Moderator That Wasn't


by Andy Ostroy
The Ostroy Report
October 3, 2008

Leading up to and immediately following the vice presidential debate Thursday night between Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin the burning question was, who'd win and who'd lose. But there were really no major surprises. Biden sounded like the knowledgeable and experienced six-term Senator he is and Palin sounded like the colossal airhead she is. So, the biggest loser of all? Moderator Gwen Ifill. She was there occupying space and her lips moved, but she was virtually invisible the entire evening.

It's unfortunate, but the American media is neutered. For eight years it's given the Bush administration a free pass to invade Iraq on lies and faulty intelligence and conflate that war with the 9-11 attacks; to torture and spy on whoever the hell it wants; and generally govern in the most reckless manner through cronyism and corruption, trampling all over the Constitution. And now when the nation is at a critical crossroads with the upcoming presidential election, journalists like Ifill are simply asleep at the wheel yet again.

Case in point: when Biden challenged Palin to answer the question about Sen. John McCain's role in deregulating Wall Street and the banking industry, which led to the current financial meltdown, the plucky little hockey mom thumbed her nose at both her opponent and Ifill:

"Well I'm still on the tax thing because I want to correct ya on that again...and I want to let ya know what I did as a mayor and as a governor. And I may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you wanna hear but I'm gonna talk straight to the American people and let 'em know my track-record also."

Ifill sat there motionless and silent as Palin essentially rewrote the debate rules and said, "fuck you all, gosh-darnit! I'll answer whatever I want, whenever I want. And when I don't have the answer to one of your "gotcha" questions, I'll just fill air with my usual inane, disjointed, incoherent gibberish about shout-outs, Joe Sixpack, soccer games, mavericks, reforms, energy independence, and greed and corruption...all the while givin' y'all a flash of my pearly whites and my cutesy lil wink. It'll drive the boys crazy and make the girls all want to be my friend!"

How come Ifill didn't come back at Palin with : "With all due respect Governor, the economy is in crisis and Congress is being asked to pass a $700-billion bailout bill funded with taxpayers' money. Voters want to know what you be believe was Sen. McCain's role in deregulating banks and Wall Street."

Would this sort of aggressive moderating have been out of line? Would it have been condescending? Sexist? Or unfair on any level? Of course not. It would've been exactly what Ifill was supposed to do.

And while she was at it, Ifill could've nailed the spunky igloo-dwelling, Putin-watching BluffQueen on her convoluted mumbo-jumbo about the "Constitutional" role of the VP; the Founding Fathers; her lies about Obama's tax plan and troop funding; her Afghanistan war "Gen. McLellan" mix-up; and any other of her many embarrassing gaffes. I suppose that would've been too much to ask for.

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