William Katz: Urgent Agenda
MS. IFILL REGRETS
Posted at 9:02 p.m. ET
Gwen Ifill, master journalist and Washington monument, has condescended to comment on the controversy surrounding her participation in tomorrow's vice-presidential debate. To review, it has been revealed that Ms. Ifill is writing a book, to be published on inauguration day, dealing with black politics in the age of Obama. The book could be huge if Obama wins. It could sell three copies if he loses. One publishing authority estimated that Ifill has about $350,000, or more, riding on the outcome of the election. And here she is moderating a vice-presidential debate.
The term is conflict of interest. In the real world that's serious. In journalism it seems to be a minor issue.
Let me get this straight: We shouldn't worry because she hasn't written the Obama chapter yet? Yeah, that makes sense - if you're 12.
The problem, my dear, is your reputation.
By that time the damage will have been done. And, by the way, how do you define your job? I hear silence.
The book is called "Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama." And Obama is a small part? Why is his name in the title?
That should disqualify her right there. Nothing more need be said.
How do you respond to anything that silly? And why aren't journalists held to the same ethical standards as other public figures?
This diminishes the journalistic profession. It can't be diminished much more this year.
October 1, 2008.