McCain Campaign Working the Ref in the VP Debate

These attacks against Gwen Ifill are so transparent. I don't know why we're even having a legitimate discussion about their validity. The McCain campaign is desperate to have the moderator of the VP debate go easy on Palin. So they are working her over, ahead of time.

In essence, they are threatening her career if she doesn't act "objectively." And their definition of "objective" is someone who asks very easy questions to Sarah Palin. They have already called the most innocuous foreign policy questions in other interviews "gotcha" questions or "trap-door" questions. They're sending a warning to Ifill. We will try to destroy your reputation as an objective reporter if you're tough on Palin.

The second reason behind this obvious gambit is that if Palin bombs they can say, "See, of course, with that biased moderator she didn't get a fair shake. It wasn't her fault. The deck was stacked against her with all of those 'gotcha' questions from an Obama supporter."

Looking at it this way, you can see why this is a smart political move. They lose nothing and possibly gain easier questions and an excuse if their candidate does not do well. That is why it is up to the media to point out that this is sheer political gamesmanship and not let them get away with this nonsense. Treating this issue as if it has any legitimacy is unacceptable. And, by the way, also completely unfair to Gwen Ifill.

One final thing on this debate. How well the moderator does tonight is going to completely dependent on how she asks follow-up questions. A debate where you just let either side give their talking points on any given issue and move on is a terrible, boring and useless debate. The public only learns how well that candidate has memorized their talking points. Follow up questions are critical. This is what has made Katie Couric's interviews with Sarah Palin so good. Simple, fair follow-up questions to get an understanding of what the candidate actually means.

It will be tragically ironic if Ifill actually mars her reputation as a journalist by not asking pertinent follow-up questions because she has been intimidated by the right-wing into going soft on Palin.