August 2006 Weddings
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Ifill fluff piece on Obamas

Sorry if this was linked before.  As if the "love letter" Age of Obama book was not enough,

http://www.essence.com/news_entertainment/news/articles/theobamasportraitofanamericanfamily

Soon we will vote for our next president, and for the first time in history, one of the two candidates is a Black man. For a year, Essence pursued an interview with the entire Obama family?to no avail. Finally, this summer ESSENCE became the only Black media outlet allowed a glimpse into the lives of Barack, Michelle and their two girls, Malia and Sasha, when we were invited to their South Side Chicago home. Weeks later, veteran political journalist Gwen Ifill was with the family as they campaigned in a small mostly White western town, and she flew with them to a Black church in the urban Midwest.

Barack Obama is sitting in the back of his rented luxury campaign bus with its granite counters and two flat-screen TVs. The Illinois senator's arms are wrapped around his wife, Michelle, whom he doesn't get to see much these days. At this very moment he is, of all things, singing.

I've just asked them how their lives have changed since he won the Democratic presidential nomination. There have definitely been changes, especially for Michelle Obama, who used to pride herself on campaigning by day and rushing home to her daughters each night. Now she is spending more of her days and nights on the road, but seldom in the same place as her husband. And when their daughters?Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 get to see their dad, they likely have to share him with thousands of adoring strangers. "Daddy's gone a lot," Sasha notes. "We don't see him that much."

But on this Fourth of July, everyone is together. Even though there are at least a half-dozen aides and family members on the bus with us, it feels intimate back here. Michelle and Barack are curled up on the beige couch, while the children are reading and coloring a few feet away. Michelle folds her long legs to her chin and leans into her husband as he explains the reality of their lives. When he pauses, she finishes his sentences.

Their ease with each other recalls the day several weeks earlier when ESSENCE arrived to photograph the Obamas at their large Georgian Revivial home on Chicago's South Side. Barack stood on the lawn playfully teasing his wife as she posed for our cameras. Now, as then, his customary public caution melts away when he is with his family. Under relentless media scrutiny, Barack Obama says his family is going the extra mile to "maintain this little island of normalcy in the midst of all this swirl of activity."

But family snapshots of this sort are rare, as are moments when the Obamas can just chill. "Michelle has done a heroic job of managing the house, the family and still finding time to campaign and be out on the road," he says, after directing staff members to turn off the television, which was tuned to Fox News Channel. "I'm always marveling at everything that she can do."

And then he sings.

"I'm every woman," he croons. She cringes. He laughs. "That's Michelle. It's like, Chaka Khan! Chaka Khan!"

Credit: Kwaku Alston,Page 1 of total

 
JulieF:  I don't know what troubles me most, the partisanship, the blatant conflict of interest (esp. the financial one), or the fact that she was chosen over so many other non-partisan journalists.  Of all the journalists in the United States, one of the four debate moderators has a pro-Obama book coming out on Inauguration Day.
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Re: Ifill fluff piece on Obamas

  • So you're sticking with it being a financial conflict of interest and that it's a pro-Obama book, despite reading the Amazon summary, and despite McCain's statement that he has no issue with Ifill staying the moderator?
  • I think Ifill will do a fine, non-partisan job.  However I do think she should be removed because it upsets people so much.  I'd be upset if tables were turned.
  • Let's go with the assumption that her book is completely pro-Obama.  Do you still think that it's impossible for her to be a professional and ask fair questions to both candidates without showing favortism?  For crissakes, she works for PBS, not Fox.
    image
    "As of page 2 this might be the most boring argument ever. It's making me long for Rape Day." - Mouse
  • I would be concerned if I thought more than 3 people read Essence Wink

    j/k. She should step down, just for the sake of impartiality. I'm actually surprised the people who picked her didn't care about the pretense of objectivity.

  • She is partisan and invested in an Obama win.

    It's more than just the book, but I absolutely stand by the idea that the book and its premise are fawning and favorable to Obama.

    In addition to this book, she also has an Essence fluff piece that is laughably saccharine (Obama sings!) and has recorded negative comments on Palin.

    I'd love to see the board's response to an "Age of McCain" author who wrote a fluff piece on Cindy and was on camera making snide comments about Biden after he won the VP nomination.  However, I will have to imagine it because it would never happen.

  • Julie - I just changed my mind. Ifill should stay b/c with her in charge we have the perfect response to any anti-Palin criticisms about the debate.

    ETA: Actually we have 2. Questions were biased and losing = winning when you're the underdog. 

  • image JulieF:

    I'd love to see the board's response to an "Age of McCain" author who wrote a fluff piece on Cindy and was on camera making snide comments about Biden after he won the VP nomination.  However, I will have to imagine it because it would never happen.

    You mean if this person was moderator?

    I really don't think the moderator has that much impact on the debate.  Yes, there is question choice, but they both have to answer the same questions.  I'm not really sure how a moderator could stack the deck against Biden.

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    "As of page 2 this might be the most boring argument ever. It's making me long for Rape Day." - Mouse
  • image caden:

    Julie - I just changed my mind. Ifill should stay b/c with her in charge we have the perfect response to any anti-Palin criticisms about the debate.

    ETA: Actually we have 2. Questions were biased and losing = winning when you're the underdog. 

    At least you know you need to prepare for defeat!

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    "As of page 2 this might be the most boring argument ever. It's making me long for Rape Day." - Mouse
  • Fenton,

    Note: this should be a Dem landslide year.  If your party and its candidate and policies are so great, why have they been struggling so much to get their message heard?  Why all these "racism racism racism" articles, creating a pre-emptive reason for the loss?  Why in this worst of all weeks for McCain is he still within 2 and 3 in Florida and Ohio, and would be even if it weren't for the extreme outlier known as Quinnipiac?

    The only way your candidate can go is down, esp.if Palin transcends expectations. He's hit his peak.

    Why the ACORN activism and voter fraud?  Why the crooked Ohio early voting crap where you can register and vote in one step, regardless of whether your address, name, and identity are checked?   Why the skewed polling and reading of polls?

    I think the closeness of the polls right now in battleground states show the inherent weakness of the Democratic party and its candidate in particular, who is running tremendously behind his party in general.

    So I would watch before you get too cocky because we all know about Presidents Gore and Kerry.  Gotta love those exit polls.

  • I have to agree that she should step down, as much as I love her as a moderator, etc, it just doesn't pass the smell test, IMO.
  • image caden:

    Julie - I just changed my mind. Ifill should stay b/c with her in charge we have the perfect response to any anti-Palin criticisms about the debate.

     Exactly why I want Ifill removed.

  • image _Fenton:
    image JulieF:

    I'd love to see the board's response to an "Age of McCain" author who wrote a fluff piece on Cindy and was on camera making snide comments about Biden after he won the VP nomination.  However, I will have to imagine it because it would never happen.

    You mean if this person was moderator?

    I really don't think the moderator has that much impact on the debate.  Yes, there is question choice, but they both have to answer the same questions.  I'm not really sure how a moderator could stack the deck against Biden.

    This is why:

    ?The biggest pressure you have as a journalist ever is to make sure you get an answer to your question,? said Ifill, whose crowded resume includes The New York Times, The Washington Post and NBC News. ?That?s what I?m focusing on ? how to ask questions that elicit answers instead of spin, or in this case to elicit engagement between the two.?

    The format offers Ifill great freedom. Questions on domestic or international issues are allowed, and it?s up to her to decide the mix. Her goal is to help viewers learn something about the candidates.

    http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/story/819201.htm

    The way a question is worded can have a significant impact. Just like in a poll - the questions make a big difference. 

  • image LittleMissWifey:
    I have to agree that she should step down, as much as I love her as a moderator, etc, it just doesn't pass the smell test, IMO.

    I would agree if this were even a week before the debate. When it's first and only brought up less than 24 hours before the debate, that, to me, doesn't pass the smell test.

  • Elizabeth also makes a good point.  It's not like Ifill's book or the Essence piece are a great surprise.  Why wait until now to throw a fit?
  • Questions are tremendously important in a debate. (I can't believe I am even having this argument.)  Just look at the first debate.  If it had been on foreign policy as it should have been, McCain would've cleaned his clock, and in my opinion polls that now show an Obama tilt would have shown a McCain tilt or a tie at best.

    Ifill can skew the debate in many ways by the questions she asks.  She can go after Palin on her perceived lack of intellectual curiosity while letting along Biden's tremendously stupid gaffes.  She can tailor experience questions to Biden's strength.  She can indirectly refer to issues of family, rape kits, book banning, and a myriad of other issues.

    As I stated before, I wonder how an "Age of McCain; how Vietnam Veterans have broken through" conservative with a puff piece on Cindy and a snarkfest commentary on Biden would have been received as a debate moderator.

    You do know she's sole moderator with total control over questions and how they are framed, right?

  • image Elizabeth81:

    image LittleMissWifey:
    I have to agree that she should step down, as much as I love her as a moderator, etc, it just doesn't pass the smell test, IMO.

    I would agree if this were even a week before the debate. When it's first and only brought up less than 24 hours before the debate, that, to me, doesn't pass the smell test.

    I agree.  Either the campaign knew about the book and is using the coinkidink timing as strategy (feign outrage, then acceptance, then revel in the ready-made excuse machine if Palin tanks) OR, they really DID have no idea, relfecting zero due dilligence.

    Something stinks, indeed.

     

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    image

    I am a runner, knitter, scientist, DE-IVF veteran, and stage III colon cancer survivor.
  • True that E. But what can you do? If we keep her in and Biden wins, the right will scream bloody hell, and they will have a point that may resonate.

    The other fear is what if Ifil over compensates for her real/perceived bias and is actually harder on Biden? 

  • Timing is irrelevant.  The important part is that they exist.  I never knew of the Essence fluff or conflict-of-interest Obama book until today, and I don't know that McCain did, either.  This should have been explicitly disclosed.

    *When I last looked up Barack Obama on Amazon, which was about a month ago, the Ifill book was not prominently listed.  Therefore, it may not have been on Amazon when the debate terms were negotiated. Now, of course, it is too late.  I had never heard of the book before today, and I like political books.

  • image BlackMamba*:
    Elizabeth also makes a good point.  It's not like Ifill's book or the Essence piece are a great surprise.  Why wait until now to throw a fit?

    Who on this board knew of Ifill's book before yesterday? I had never even heard of Ifill before yesterday, much less her unreleased book. It's not like Ifill is some superstar and her book has been widely anticipated for months. As far as I can tell she had one interview about it, which took place during the Republican Convention, when no one on the right was reading book reviews. Her book isn't even released yet. It's obvious why they didn't know about this beforehand, it received scant media attention.

  • image caden:

    I would be concerned if I thought more than 3 people read Essence Wink

    j/k. She should step down, just for the sake of impartiality. I'm actually surprised the people who picked her didn't care about the pretense of objectivity.

    Essence publishes 1.05 million copies an issue.

    If you consider pass-alongs, it reaches the vast majority of African American women.

    The Girl is 5. The Boy is 2. The Dog is 1.

    image image

    I am the 99%.
  • Even if the right is using a timing tactic, the end result will be the same. Put in Lehrer and call it good. Problem solved.
  • image mominatrix:
    image caden:

    I would be concerned if I thought more than 3 people read Essence Wink

    j/k. She should step down, just for the sake of impartiality. I'm actually surprised the people who picked her didn't care about the pretense of objectivity.

    Essence publishes 1.05 million copies an issue.

    If you consider pass-alongs, it reaches the vast majority of African American women.

    It was a joke mominatrix. Although, good to know the numbers. My tiny 1400-student college has a larger mailing list for its newsletter than Essence, but I know more than 3 people read it. Smile

  • image JulieF:

    I never knew of the Essence fluff or conflict-of-interest Obama book until today, and I don't know that McCain did, either. 

    Doesn't the campaign have a staff whose ENTIRE job is to find out things like this?  I don't get it - just because you, or any of us, didn't know about it doesn't mean that the campaign should NOT have known. 

    Is there an appearance of impropriety?  Perhaps - and maybe it would be best for a co-moderator to come on board.  I agree that the situation is not ideal but I hardly see the McCain-Palin team as faultless victims.  Step up to the plate and do your damned homework for crying out loud.

    I'll bet $100 both campaigns will start reading up on their moderators from now on though.  Heck of a time to learn that leasson.

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    I am a runner, knitter, scientist, DE-IVF veteran, and stage III colon cancer survivor.
  • image LittleMissWifey:
    Even if the right is using a timing tactic, the end result will be the same. Put in Lehrer and call it good. Problem solved.

    This is actually a very good idea.  It's like the perfectly "controlled" experiment with no unnecessary changes in variables.

     

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    image

    I am a runner, knitter, scientist, DE-IVF veteran, and stage III colon cancer survivor.
  • I disagree.  I was on Amazon right after the Obama books were released, and Ifill's book was not on there.  I think it was Gwen Ifill who should have revealed the timing and content of her book.

    I read political books extensively and never heard of this Ifill book.  Do you really think that it was natural to assume, "oh of course, the VP debate moderator is going to have a pro-Obama book coming out on Inauguration Day?"  Anyone with any sense wouldn't have put her name forward.

    I like what I am reading on other threads, though.  Ifill should stay in because she's a woman and a minority.  For all the mean talk about Palin, being nothing but a private part, who's the token now?

  • It is pretty annoying that Ifill and the Commission on debates or whatever didn't ask the campaigns weeks ago about whether this was ok.   If Ifill didn't inform the commission of her book, they should drop her.  I agree that Lehrer is a good replacement.
  • Julie, I was talking about defeat in the VP debate. 

    Sure this year was going to be fueled by anti-Bush sentiments.  The only way McCain is leading is by running as the non-Republican conservative.  But that's not what my post was about, so I don't understand your response.

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    "As of page 2 this might be the most boring argument ever. It's making me long for Rape Day." - Mouse
  • image JulieF:

    I read political books extensively and never heard of this Ifill book. 

    Julie - do you work for the campaign?  I don't understand why you feel like your ability to research is somehow so much greater than the entirety of the McCain campaign's - and therefore if YOU didn't hear of the book or magazine piece then certainly THEY couldn't have been expected to.  This seems like an odd position to take.

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    image

    I am a runner, knitter, scientist, DE-IVF veteran, and stage III colon cancer survivor.
  • image caden:

    image BlackMamba*:
    Elizabeth also makes a good point.  It's not like Ifill's book or the Essence piece are a great surprise.  Why wait until now to throw a fit?

    Who on this board knew of Ifill's book before yesterday? I had never even heard of Ifill before yesterday, much less her unreleased book. It's not like Ifill is some superstar and her book has been widely anticipated for months. As far as I can tell she had one interview about it, which took place during the Republican Convention, when no one on the right was reading book reviews. Her book isn't even released yet. It's obvious why they didn't know about this beforehand, it received scant media attention.

    Then you must have missed her moderating the 2004 veep debate.

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  • Also, what cracks me up about this whole discussion thread is back in '04 people complained she was in the tank for Cheney and Edwards should not have agreed to her moderating the debate.
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