Gwen Ifill Book Party: My 'Truth' Won Out Over Conservative Bloggers

The liberal media elite piled into David Bradley's Embassy Row mansion in northwest Washington DC on Monday night to celebrate PBS anchor Gwen Ifill's book The Breakthrough, touting the ascent of black Democrats in the Age of Obama. (FishBowl DC has a nice photo of the hope-and-change Barack Obama cookies at the party.)

So didn't writing this book taint her as a debate moderator? Ifill told the book party crowd no, the "truth" won out and the question-raising conservative bloggers (like NewsBusters) lost. From the New York Observer:

Back in September on the eve of the Vice Presidential debate, conservative bloggers had attacked her impartiality as a moderator, alleging that her book about Mr. Obama would bias her in the Democrats’ favor.

"Of course, there was the moment when everyone decided they knew what the book was about before I had even finished writing it," said Ms. Ifill on Monday night. "I thought, 'Well that’s fine. Truth will out. I will just survive it.' And I did."

But how would this book prove conservative bloggers were wrong? There's only one chapter on Obama, but its primary spokesmen are Obama campaign advisers like David Plouffe.

There are no chapters about black Republicans or conservatives. They apparently are no part of a black "Breakthrough," since they did not win -- in part because liberal journalists like Ifill won't give them the time of day.

An excerpt of the book at MSNBC.com hints pretty clearly that Ifill had a rooting interest in an Obama breakthrough:

It is easy to overlook change when it happens, even when it is as dramatic and historic as this year’s breakthrough Presidential election. But as I stood at Denver’s Invesco Field on the night Barack Obama accepted his party’s nomination for President, I swear I could feel the rumbling under my feet.

For one night, all of the friction and below-the-radar political positioning each had endured — much of it obscured by Obama’s meteoric rise — was on display. It was a rare lightning stroke moment that finally illuminated the dramatic shift in tone, message and leadership that has forced a redefinition of black politics and of black politicians. It was the Age of Obama, in full effect.

On television, that sparkling night in Denver appeared to be all about a Presidential nomination. But in the stadium itself, it was about so much more. It was about the past, and about progress and about race — the most divisive issue in the nation’s history. And it provided a convenient yardstick with which to measure what the change Obama talked so much about could really mean. Before my eyes, I was able to witness the romance and achievement of 1960s civil rights marches bearing fruit, as the lions of the movement mingled with the up and comers. Some had been slow to embrace Barack Obama. Some had been quick. But, this night, all wanted to bear witness...

To be clear right off the bat, I do not believe this to be a "post-racial" moment, as so many have claimed. After talking to scores of people for this book, I am still not even entirely sure what that term means. My well-reported suspicion is that it is the type of code language that conveniently means different things to different people. For those interested in resisting any discussion of racial difference, it is an easy way to embrace the mythic notion of color blindness. For civil rights veterans, it is a term that sparks outrage. (Why is getting "past" race considered to be a good thing? Does that make race a bad thing?) For some up and coming politicians hoping to build their success on erasing, rather than maintaining lines of difference, the idea has some appeal....

The breakthrough has not occurred overnight, although it sometimes seems as if it did. There were critical moments along the way. In 2006, five black men ran for governor or U.S. Senate in Ohio, Maryland, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Three were Republicans. That was a breakthrough. But in the end, only one — Patrick — won. 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis