On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Megyn Kelly falsely suggested it was publicly revealed that PBS' Gwen Ifill was the author of the forthcoming book, The Breakthrough, only after it was announced she would moderate the upcoming vice presidential debate. In fact, media outlets, including the Associated Press, reported that Ifill was the book's author well before the announcement.
On the October 1 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Megyn Kelly falsely suggested it was publicly revealed that PBS senior correspondent Gwen Ifill is the author of the forthcoming book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama (Doubleday), only after it was announced she would moderate the October 2 vice presidential debate. Kelly said: "Critics are asking how Ifill can pen such a glowing review of Senator [Barack] Obama and still be fair during this debate. Ifill has gone public recently talking about the book and how the path to influence has changed for African-Americans." In fact, media outlets, including the Associated Press, reported that Ifill was the book's author well before the August 21 announcement that she would moderate the debate.
Additionally, following an October 1 post on her blog, in which she asserted that "full disclosure to both [candidates] was necessary," Fox News host Greta Van Susteren wrote in a second post that day:
I confirmed for us here on GretaWire: the McCain campaign did NOT know about Gwen Ifill's book (I think I told them when I made my efforts -- emails about midnight -- to find out!) I am stunned ... the campaign (actually both) should have been told before the campaign agreed to have her moderate. It simply is not fair -- in law, this would create a mistrial [emphasis in original].
However, in addition to ignoring the AP report citing Ifill's book, published on July 21, Van Susteren did not note in either blog post that a September 4 Washington Post profile of Ifill also mentioned that she was working on The Breakthrough. In an October 1 post on his Politico blog, Michael Calderone wrote of the Post article: "Ifill discussed it [the book] with Howard Kurtz last month in the Washington Post, in the only profile she's done before the debate. (And I'd imagine someone in the campaign should have read it)."
Ifill's role as moderator of the October 2 vice presidential debate was announced in an August 21 joint statement from the Obama and McCain campaigns, which is posted on the McCain-Palin website:
The two campaigns agreed today on a framework for four General Election debates, to be sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Key elements of the agreement are:
2. Vice Presidential Debate
- Date: October 2nd
- Site: Washington University (St. Louis)
- Moderator: Gwen Ifill
- Staging/Answer Format: To be resolved after both parties' Vice Presidential nominees are selected.
Prior to the joint announcement of the debate schedule and format, the July 21 AP article -- which is also posted on FoxNews.com -- identified Ifill as "author of 'The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,' slated for publication early next year." Additionally, in a May 8 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer -- portions of which were also quoted in a May 13 article in The Republican of Springfield, Massachusetts -- Ifill discussed the book*:
Q: What do you do when you're not reporting or moderating?
A: Well, I am working on this book now, which is frankly taking almost all of my waking hours when I'm not at work. The book is about an emerging generation of black politicians - in fact, when I'm in town, I'll probably talk to your mayor - including focusing on Barack Obama and [Massachusetts Gov.] Deval Patrick and [Newark, N.J., Mayor] Corey Booker - and trying to talk about what we see happening here, and I think there is something fundamental shifting here, which is shifting before our eyes, that goes beyond Barack Obama. It's my first book, so it's terrifying. But when I'm not working all the time, I'm playing with my godchildren and going to movies and doing things normal people do.
Below is a Doubleday description of Ifill's book:
In THE BREAKTHROUGH, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama's stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.
Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, and also covers up-and-coming figures from across the nation. Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the "black enough" conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.
THE BREAKTHROUGH is a remarkable look at contemporary politics and an essential foundation for understanding the future of American democracy.
From the October 1 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
KELLY: Also, this developing story from the campaign trail this morning: The moderator for tomorrow night's vice presidential debate is now under fire for a book she has written that's set to hit bookstores on January 20, which just happens to be Inauguration Day. PBS' Gwen Ifill, writing a book called, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. It focuses on Obama and other emerging African-American leaders. Critics are asking how Ifill can pen such a glowing review of Senator Obama and still be fair during this debate. Ifill has gone public recently talking about the book and how the path to influence has changed for African-Americans.
IFILL [video clip]: The title of the book is The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. It's taking the story of Barack Obama and extending it to talk about a whole new generation of black politicians who are doing very similar things in very different ways. They're younger, they're more likely to get to power not by marching in marches, the way their parents did, or by leading protests. They have decided to do it by getting educations; basically walking through the doors that their parents opened, then choosing public service in a different way.
KELLY: Well, the official promo for the book calls Senator Obama a "power broker," calls his campaign "stunning," and says this is a "pivotal moment in American history." Fox News contributor Juan Williams knows Gwen Ifill well, and he will join us live on this developing story, which is picking up a lot of heat, in our next hour.
* Text added to include the original May 8 Inquirer interview.