Jen, the ethical thing for Gwen Ifill to do tomorrow night is to open the debate by acknowledging that she is writing a book about race and politics and the book’s success will be determined largely by whether Sen. Obama becomes president. She could then go on to say that her personal feelings on the subject aside, she is a professional and is committed to moderating fairly and objectively. If she doesn’t acknowledge her own stakes in the outcome of the debate from the beginning, she will be implicitly deceiving the audience. Whenever a reporter or commentator has some direct tie to a campaign, or even an indirect one through a close family member’s involvement, he or she is obliged to notify the audience when reporting or commenting on the candidate. You can bet that if the shoe were on the other foot this story would be major news. As it is, Ifill’s pocket-book stake in this election was worthy of mention only in the Washington Post blogs today.
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