October 3, 2008

"Ifill Awful?"

Kaus asks and answers: "Why are we supposed to think Gwen Ifill was so bad? Sure she was bland. She's Gwen Ifill! But it was a pretty lively debate, and she got out of the way."

I agree. Gwen Ifill was surpassingly bland, as expected. And that book of hers that was supposed to have created a terrible conflict of interest? It's going to be bland too.

79 comments:

AllenS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TMink said...

I think the controversy helped her up her game a little, she was present as a professional, not a sychophant. While she was bland, I think she did her job and that was better than I expected.

Trey

Henry said...

I thought she was fine. She did stumble a bit on follow-up questions. I wonder if she was overly aware of the risk of appearing biased.

The "what's your biggest weakness" question got a big laugh in our house. It's the most cliched interview question of all time.

Biden's answer was the perfect punchline: It's my passion.

Yup, and my biggest weakness is caring too much for other people.

Doyle said...

Wasn't she expected to lavish praise on her meal ticket's running mate?

Apathetic Citizen said...

She was chosen because she's a harmless drone, the media equivalent of Aunt Jemima. All that yak yesterday about her being biased was the GOP preparing the media battlespace for Palin.

Her program's ratings have been in decline for a decade with 2.2 million nightly viewers, most of whom are over 50, and probably way, way over 50.

Angela Lansbury or Wilfred Brimley were asked to moderate but were unavailable.

Doyle said...

She was chosen because she's a harmless drone, the media equivalent of Aunt Jemima.

Cleanup in aisle 5, Ann?

Pogo said...

I hate the stump speech format. What a waste of time. Would much prefer an openly antagonistic method, with each side choosing the other's interviewer.

This was just crap.

I agree. "My biggest weakness?"
Jeezus on roller skates, what a doofus question. She make that up herself? Ran out of ideas? The staff was sick?

I was surprised she persisted with Biden and made him give a straight answer to the gay marriage question.

I heard Andrew Sullivan weeping somewhere in the distance.

VariableSpin said...

"And that book of hers that was supposed to have created a terrible conflict of interest?"

Are conflicts of interest supposed to be evaluated after the fact? What's the point of recusal then? Every judge with a perceived conflict of interest could just say "Give me a chance to preside over this case and you'll see I can be fair."

Bottom line: She has a non-trivial financial and professional stake in the outcome of the election. It was ethically wrong that she did not disclose her book deal to the commission. She does not deserve a pass on that fact regardless of her performance.

Dark Eden said...

Ifill let Biden get the opening statement, the final statement, and the last comment on most of the questions.

So other than being completely and utterly in the tank she was fine. Palin was more than a match for Biden and the predictable DNC media rigged moderator.

Quayle said...

My wife (generally a demure person) suddenly blurted out that Biden obviously had the hots for Palin.

erniecu73 said...

She was better than expected.

Pogo, Biden's answer to the gay marriage question went over very with most "inner-city voters"

erniecu73 said...

I meant "went over very well"

AJ Lynch said...

I only saw 5 minutes of the debate so no comments on that.

I have always thought Ifill was an even-keeled and professional talking head. She has a nice way about her.

Peter V. Bella said...

Wasn't she expected to lavish praise on her meal ticket's running mate?

Wasn't he?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Palin's performance last night makes me want to see the full transcripts of her interviews. I think she nailed it when she said she prefers to talk directly without the MSM filter. I translated filter as editing because we all know creative editing could make Einstein look like a fuckwit.

Mateo said...

VariableSpin has it right, and it bears repeating:

"Are conflicts of interest supposed to be evaluated after the fact? What's the point of recusal then? Every judge with a perceived conflict of interest could just say 'Give me a chance to preside over this case and you'll see I can be fair.'

Bottom line: She has a non-trivial financial and professional stake in the outcome of the election. It was ethically wrong that she did not disclose her book deal to the commission. She does not deserve a pass on that fact regardless of her performance."

ron st.amant said...

Ifill did what a moderator is supposed to do: ask the topic question and get out of the way unless thing get out of control.

ricpic said...

My biggest weakness is my essential goodness in a world of evil meanies. Wha ha ha ha ha...

Hoosier Daddy said...

Ifill did what a moderator is supposed to do: ask the topic question and get out of the way unless thing get out of control.

Agreed.

Jim Hu said...

Ifill let Biden get the opening statement, the final statement, and the last comment on most of the questions.
The opening statement order was determined by coin toss and I suspect the closing statement was too, probably in something like the start of a football game, where the winner chooses first or second on ether opening or closing and the loser chooses on whichever was not picked by the winner. If so, I speculate that Palin won the toss and elected to go second on the opening question in order to not give Biden an immediate opportunity to zing her on her first answer.

Regarding who got the last word. This appears to be a GOP troll talking point that is appearing on lots of comment sections. There were 18 segments. Biden got the last word on 10, Palin on 8. This doesn't strike me as bias from Ifill.

Palin did a decent job of neutralizing the real bias from Ifill. We didn't notice he bias in the questions so much because Palin changed the subject. Some examples:
1) One of Palin's strongest subjects is energy. Ifill wasn't going to ask about high prices and shortages - her energy question was climate change.
2) On Israel, the question was not what to do, but how the Bush admin failed. Neither candidate answered this substantively, IMO, but it was a reinforcement of the McCain = W meme.
3) The duties of the VP question. Biden's earlier statement was not unusual. Palin's opponents have highlighted hers about not knowing what a VP actually does. Note that most of what a modern VP does isn't anywhere in the Constitution.

Perhaps my biases prevent me from seeing which questions balance these.

that-xmas said...

The best part of the debate...

(posted on Fark)

Sy said...

Anne,

I am sorry that you feel awful. Perhaps things will look up later today.

AllenS said...

Jim Hu said...

"Note that most of what a modern VP does isn't anywhere in the Constitution."

When did the modern era start, 2000?

AlphaLiberal said...

Perhaps it has something to do with allowing a candidate not only to refuse to answer questions asked, but to even respond on wholly different topics then the question without saying anything!

Ifill allowed herself to be bullied by Republicans. And I like Ifill. Very disappointing.

Palin was terrible, arrogant, on the attack with false charges. If she was a man she'd be getting much heavier criticism. But she has that Republican whine shield that keeps journos like Ifill in line.

And Palin lied about Gen McKiernan (not "McClellan" who has been dead over 100 years) supporting a surge in Afghanistan. She lied about Biden "adamantly" supporting McCain's Iraq plans. She lied about being middle class when they're worth over a million dollars.

Really, I come out of this thinking much worse of her as a human being.

AlphaLiberal said...

And don't forget, "the economy is a toxic mess on Main Street affecting Wall Street." And "rear that head of abuse." Barely intelligible.

Lady Cheney would, apparently, like Main Street to apologize. Much like Cheney 1 had the old man he shot apologize.

Don't forget, she embraces Dick Cheney's Fourth Branch philosophy. "You know," the VP is not in the Executive Branch nor the Legislative Branch. Palin and Cheney reject the American system of government for a more authoritarian "unitary executive."

matthew said...

Every judge with a perceived conflict of interest could just say 'Give me a chance to preside over this case and you'll see I can be fair.'

Except that hardly any judge would recuse themselves for this sort of behavior. Judges regularly write about issues that may come up on their court - this is because they often write about topics of law. Likewise, you would expect a political journalist to write about political topics...

Doyle said...

So everyone else is cool with the Aunt Jemima comment, then?

Chip Ahoy said...

Pogo, I think the "greatest weakness" question was phrased as "what is your Archilles' heal?" In that moment I hoped Palin would answer, "In what sense, Gwen, are you referring to my Naughty Monkeys again?"

I don't know anything about Ifill's book. I expect it'll be just another hagiography. I'll just wait and see. I'm hoping to be surprised. I thought she did last night exactly what she was supposed to do, basically start off a good debate and remain invisible.

Triangle Man said...

Bottom line: She has a non-trivial financial and professional stake in the outcome of the election. It was ethically wrong that she did not disclose her book deal to the commission. She does not deserve a pass on that fact regardless of her performance

She may have had a non-trivial financial stake in being the moderator of this debate, because it raised her public profile and highlighted the fact that she has a book coming out. However the outcome of the debate could hardly be expected to influence her book royalties if she were seen as biased. Indeed, the public spotlight placed on her upcoming book, if anything, created a greater incentive for her to appear as fair as possible to the widest possible readership.

Pogo said...

What, you don't eat pancakes, Doyle?

Apathetic Citizen said...

Alpha--

Going after the lady with the personal and obscure political/legal stuff will only make her more appealing because she's got the Mom/cutie pie/Smallville thing going big time, and harsh attacks from a man will only sway uncommitted female voters to her side.

She's weak on experience, and it showed last night in her often thin answers.

Problem is that the GOP retort would be that Obama also lacks experience.

Chip Ahoy said...

I've read complaints Ifill didn't ask questions that would emphasize Palin's strengths, proving bias towards Biden. In Ifill's defense, she did ask about energy. It was attached to the question about Global Warming, so Palin could answer however she wished.

tidncs said...

Was I the only one who heard Gwen address Mrs. Palin as "Dear?"

Trooper York said...

Hey as long as he doesn't call her Jose Reyes. Nobody wants to be called that big a loser.

Roger J. said...

Doyle: we appoint you to get exercised on our behalf. Go for it.

Jim Hu said...

AllenS:When did the modern era start, 2000?
No. Much earlier.

Wikipedia is your friend.

Trooper York said...

The Phillies are going to go all the way. The real team in the National League.

holdfast said...

The media is now reporting that she got the name of the commander in Afstan wrong - she said Mclellan and it is really McKiernan - but then both Ifill and Biden were too ignorant to call her on it so I think we should call it a wash. I might also argue it was a freudian slip, since McKiernan seems to resemble the Civil War Mclellan in that he is much better at whining than winning. Palin should have pointed out that his McKiernan's new boss isn't some effete admiral and has actual experience in winning on the battlefield, so if McKiernan doesn't buckle down, he might suffer Mclellan's fate.

Also, Biden was talking out his ass when he said that the Hezb'Allah had been kicked out of Lebannon, and that NATO peacekeepers should have been inserted. First, I only frickin wish they had been kicked out. Second, god knows I love and revere Ronnie Reagan, but why would we want to repeat his mistake of inserting US troops (which is that "NATO" means) into a super-hostile environment where they would he "peacekeepers" i.e. lightly armed and operating with a weak mandate and seriously constrictive ROEs? Wasn't one Lebannon Marine barracks enough? Isn't this also how the US got into trouble in Mogadishu?

Finally, isn't the role of the President defined in Art II, not I as Biden claimed?

Let's just say that there were no historians, let alone rocket surgeons present at the debate last night.

bagoh20 said...

I agree that Ifill did a good job of getting out of the way. It was a very good, even entertaining debate. Some of her questions were slanted in a way that is invisible to the left unless reversed. Although Ifill's performance was fine, she should have recused herself. The conflict is clear and present. It's not like there was no one else to go to. That's what is sad to me. Is there no desire to at least appear fair or act honorably in important matters. It's selfish arrogance.

Doyle said...

So do you guys think Ifill was too uppity? Or did she play her Aunt Jemima role to your satisfaction?

AllenS said...

Give me a year. I'm lazy. Wiki is not my friend.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger J. said...

Doyle: we need a bit more hostility--not enough edge on your outrage. Come on, you can do it. (pool starts now on when Doyle deploys the R bomb--he's just nibbling around the edges now)

peter hoh said...

I suspect that Biden knew that Palin got the general's name wrong, but chose not to say so. The second time he talks about "the general in Afghanistan," he hesitates.

I think Ifill and Biden chose not to try for the gotcha.

Henry said...

Alpha wrote: And Palin lied about Gen McKiernan.

Give me a break. It was Biden who played word games with McKiernan's statement to the Washington Post:

"The word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge,' " McKiernan stressed, saying that what is required is a "sustained commitment" to a counterinsurgency effort that could last many years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.

In Palin's response she quite intentionally uses the term "surge principles" rather than "surge" (for some reason FactCheck misses that point):

"Well, first, McClellan [sic] did not say definitively the surge principles would not work in Afghanistan. Certainly, accounting for different conditions in that different country and conditions are certainly different. We have NATO allies helping us for one, and even the geographic differences are huge but the counterinsurgency principles could work in Afghanistan. McClellan didn't say anything opposite of that. The counterinsurgency strategy going into Afghanistan, clearing, holding, rebuilding, the civil society and the infrastructure can work in Afghanistan."

Palin correctly portrays the surge as an instance in the umbrella concept of counterinsurgency warfare. Which is what McKiernan said is needed in Afghanistan.

Biden's linguistic theatre is made more bizarre in that he and Obama have been championing an increase in troops in Afghanistan. If he's not going to have the troops engage in counterinsurgency warfare, what they hell is the point?

Frankly, I thought this was one of Biden's weakest moments. "You said 'surge'! McKiernan doesn't like the word 'surge'! Ha!"

* * *

I do agree with you that Palin's answer to the "Cheney" question was terrible. I'm surprised it didn't get more play in the wrap-ups. I expect the Obama compaign makes an attack ad about it.

Biden's answer to the same question was constitutionally wacky, but nothing to make an attack ad about.

Pogo said...

Doyle like most leftists sees the world through racist-tinted lenses. Everything becomes tainted, if desired. It's a trump card to be played for fun and profit.

peter hoh said...

As I mentioned earlier, I watched the debate with a very partisan GOP crowd. Afterwards, John Hinderaker (Powerline) and Ed Morrissey (HotAir) were part of a 4 blogger panel. None of them mentioned anything about Ifill, and milling about afterwards, I heard no complaints about her, either.

I recognized that the energy question was really an environment question. Perhaps Ifill had an additional question about energy, but since both candidates addressed domestic sources and alternative energy in their replies, that question was no longer necessary.

The Exalted said...

Palin ignored most of the questions and gave a stump speech that she had memorized. She even openly announced that she would ignore the questions at her discretion.

Apparently this is ok to the keen minds here.

Ifil was abysmal.

Roger J. said...

I neither watched the debate nor did I follow any live blogging; The quicker the presidential "debates" go away, the happier I will be. They have about as much substance as a TV reality show and contribute nothing to informed discussion about "issues."

Alex said...

Instead of worrying too much about appearing biased, Ifill should have gone full throttled attack on Sarah Palin, as a moral MUST for Americans concerned about the Reichwing!

Alex said...

Remember people, I learned from AlphaLiberal the most important thing, obsess about the "Reichwing".

Alex said...

BTW, Sarah Palin's presence on the ticket will make sure McCain will not lose as bad Jimmy Carter in 1980.

bagoh20 said...

"Apparently this is ok to the keen minds here."

Maybe I'm not too keen, but yes it's ok with me because she tended to at least answer the question if only in short and add the stuff she wanted to talk about. She took control because based on recent experience it was obvious that was required for her to be able to present herself in hostile territory. If the voters don't like it they don't vote for her. It's a calculation, it's legal, and I think it worked. It could have backfired. She took that chance. She's not being treated like one of the gang because she's not and she is reacting appropriately. That's just the way it is for better or worse. These no way to cheat in these debates since everything you say and how you say it scrutinized forever by millions of little experts like us.

Ken said...

Didn't the cruelly neutral one just note how Couric used bland as a trick/ in any event Biden was lying or deranged about hezbollah in Lebanon, not a small error, and Ifill never asked even the simplest follow up, she just let his twaddle slide. Balnd can be bad.
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/totten/35261

Beth said...

Pogo, are you really going to argue that calling a black woman "Aunt Jemima" isn't racist? I don't hold you responsible for "apathetic citizen's" idiocy, but really, why try to turn it around on Doyle? No one has to be hypersensitive to race to know that was a stupid, racist remark.

Doyle said...

Doyle like most leftists sees the world through racist-tinted lenses.

Yeah, what's racist about "the media equivalent of Aunt Jemima"?

Lighten up!

peter hoh said...

I'm confused. Would Pogo regard as sexist references to Palin as Barbie?

Roger J. said...

Or Clarence Thomas referred to as Uncle Tom? Or a political cartoon depicting Condoleeza Rice eating a watermelon?

I for one am simply outraged out by Friday; someone else is going to have carry the ball here.

bagoh20 said...

Do we really want to argue about an "Aunt Jemima reference. It doesn't go anywhere. That's all it takes to send people off in 2008? Hey, look a shinny pebble. Where? Where?

Beth said...

someone else is going to have carry the ball here.

Not surprising - your team never wants that ball.

Glen said...

Jim Hu said:
Note that most of what a modern VP does isn't anywhere in the Constitution.

Note that most of what our modern Federal government does isn't anywhere in the constitution.

Pogo said...

"Not surprising - your team never wants that ball."

Come on, Beth.
Of course it was racist.

What? You want me to get apoplectic because some anonymous poster not from the left made a crude remark about skin color?!
Should I fall on my sword?
Beg forgiveness?
Go to diversity training again?

Or should I do what the left does, and claim 'your side is worse' when called out on such things?

Christ almighty.
I ignore crap like 'Aunt Jemima'; it's a juvenile distraction. Downtownlad says shit like that all the time, and so does Doyle, and in fact the entire MSM has recently gone after Palin in a way that I thought might offend some women.

But I don't expect you to come in and go full hall monitor on them.

I responded to Doyle because his only input into the thread was to change the subject by playing the usual PC trump card. Maybe you fell for it, but not me. Screw that tactic; it's bullshit.

Beth said...

Pogo, I ignored it, too. You could have likewise ignored Doyle. You made a choice, a disappointing one. You didn't have to "hall monitor" his changing the topic. I didn't ask you why you ignored that other idiot's remark, I asked why you instead tried to pass it off as in the eye of the beholder, why you went with the lame, defensive "sure, it's racist to someone wearing racist lenses" approach.

peter hoh said...

Pogo, you're right. Calling out people to address something that someone else says is pretty silly.

Jim said...

Here's why Ifill was so awful:

Like so much of the bias of MSM, it reveals itself as much in the questions that are NOT asked as the tone and type of questions that ARE asked...

Here are some topics on which there was not a single question:

- ABORTION
- GUNS
- ENERGY

Why? Because all of these issues cut against Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

- Palin has been demonized by the Left for wanting to force women who are raped or the victims of incest to carry those children to term. BUT THAT'S NOT TRUE. She has stated that those are her personal views, but that she would leave it to the voters to decide abortion law in each individual state. Asking a question on abortion would have allowed Palin to debunk the lies coming from the Left about her position which Ifill wasn't about to allow. It would also have brought up Obama's vote on the "Born Alive" act which kills him with independents, and Biden's statements that he believes life begins at conception but he supports abortion anyway which kills them with practicing Catholics.

- On Guns. Both Biden and Obama have extremely anti-gun owner records (Obama's for the handgun ban in Chicago, and thinks Heller only applies to the federal government) while Palin would have been able to highlight her own experience with hunting, and the McCain-Palin pro-2nd amendment position which is a proven electoral winner.

- On Energy. Only one of the biggest economic issues facing this country, and a subject on which Palin is an expert. The Democratic position is a proven poll loser.

So tell me why Ifill was a good choice as moderator?

Pogo said...

"I asked why you instead tried to pass it off as in the eye of the beholder"

Because sometimes I'm a parody of myself, I guess.

But I have grown tired of living under the PC speech monitors. It infects every aspect of my life. Not only must I never say -even accidently (e.g. 'niggardly','hysterical')use the Forbidden Words, I must dutifully call out those who do, and support those who tell on the miscreants, for to mock their persnickety attention to every loose word and malapropism is evidence itself of racism.

And to speak of it is mere whining, or some conservative or male victim fantasy is doubly irritating. it says: First the sentence, then the trial.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

"Ifill Awful?" becomes "I Feel Awful" for many, but "I Falafel" for Bill O'Reilly.

Is that the theme today?

blake said...

Problem is that the GOP retort would be that Obama also lacks experience.

The real problem, of course, is that would be right.

(Not that experience isn't over-rated in this context.)

knox said...

Doyle, the PC police might be able to jerk your chain, but not mine. Besides, I'm all out of outrage this week.

knox said...

Ifill was just fine, no bias as far as I could tell. But a lot of the questions, especially at the end, were pretty boring.

We too rolled our eyes at the "What's your weakness" question and "What do you think your job will be as VP" ... there were plenty of important issues that got glossed over I would rather have heard them talk about about. Oh yeah, "What's true and what's false about Global Warming?" was a pretty dumb one too.

Doyle said...

Shorter Althouse fans: "We see nothing wrong with calling Gwen Ifill 'Aunt Jemima' and dismiss those who do as the 'PC police'"

bjm said...

As I've previously posted; I read Kaus daily and emmensely enjoy his Blogginghead vids; Mickey is an authentic wryly sardonic blog voice.

While I get that Mickey is riffing in the moment; isn't dissecting Palin's sentence structure while giving Biden's weird body language and nonsensical statements on Hezbollah/Lebanon a pass committing satirical malpractice?

Sorry, I expected bolder, smarter and funnier from Kaus.

Simon said...

AlphaLiberal said...
"Palin and Cheney reject the American system of government for a more authoritarian 'unitary executive.'"

The unitary executive is the American system of government - or rather, the form of the executive branch thereof - jackass. You're confusing the unitary executive, which is a theory of the intrabranch organization of the executive branch, with various theories (I group them together informally under the caption "robust executive") about the interbranch powers of the executive branch as against the judicial and legislative branches.

Simon said...
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Beth said...

Sure, Pogo. Like "niggardly," "Aunt Jemima" is merely a misinterpreted comment, calling for faux, PC outrage. Why, a poor guy can't say anything these days without the awful PC police coming down on him. I call bullshit on that.

Pogo said...

Beth, I didn't equate the words, you did.

I am only describing my own experience. You are holding me responsible for someone else saying Aunt jemima, or at least for mocking doyle for his excessively reflexive PC kneejerk which cannot even ignore trolling.

More, doyle's response wasn't to criticize the writer, but to criticize the rest of us for not criticizing the writer (hence my 'hall monitor' comment). And that's what you're doing as well.

knox said...

PC has created a world in which someone can claim the moral high ground--merely by virtue of being a "liberal"--and demand that I prove to his satisfaction that I'm not a racist.

Any wonder why people equate PC with authoritarianism. Pogo's right when he says: First the sentence, then the trial.

rcocean said...

I love it when white people get all worked up about "racism". It reminds me of Mort.

blake said...

If Mort were awake, he'd tell you that's, uh....