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Contextualizing the Ifill flap

First, here's a brief timeline that puts the story of the day in context:

July 23: A Washington Times piece on Tavis Smiley quotes Gwen Ifill and identifies her as "author of "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama."

August 5: The St. Louis Business Journal reports that Ifill's been tapped as the moderator for the VP debate.

August 21: Ifill writes a column on the themes of politics and race and is identified as "author of the forthcoming The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama."

August 21: The McCain and Obama campaigns release a joint statement outlining the presidential and vice-presidential debate schedules. Ifill is identified as the moderator for the VP debate.

September 4: Ifill discusses her upcoming book in an Washington Post article.

September as a whole: Sarah Palin goes from RNC sensation to damaged goods.

September 30: World Net Daily informs its readers about Ifill's book.

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Also, readers, I'd be interested in your thoughts on Ifill's RNC commentary immediately following Palin's speech. World Net Daily apparently thinks it's incriminating, since it's posted right there in Bob Unruh's article. When I watch it, I see Ifill praising Palin's performance. I also see a lip-purse at the end which, depending on your political viewpoint, could suggest A) anti-Palin animus or B) uncertainty about whether John McCain's speech can match Palin's. Take a look:

 

 

In closing, I should mention that I actually think one conservative criticism of Ifill's role is legit: her book will be timelier--and sell better--if Obama wins. That's problematic: as a liberal, I wouldn't want the VP debate moderated by someone who, say, was about to publish a book on the future of national-greatness conservatism.

That said, I can't help seeing this whole Ifill flap as a transparent response to Palin's disastrous September and McCain's free fall in the polls--and as the latest manifestation of McCain's gimmicky campaign against the media. Which makes it awfully hard to take seriously.

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