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.
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.