(Can You See) The Real Me

I was reading about Gwen Ifill in the NY Times and the reaction to a book she’s working on with the title The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. In case you don’t know, Gwen is the moderator of the vice presidential candidate debate, and many conservatives are hyperventilating in print, talk radio, TV, blogs, and whatever forum they can find saying Gwen has blown whatever credibility she has as a somewhat neutral news anchor and can, without bias, moderate the vice presidential debate. Here’s the thing, according the NY Times:

In an interview, Ms. Ifill said that she began writing the book, about the new generation of post-civil-rights-era black leaders, in spring 2007, long before Mr. Obama seemed likely to win the Democratic nomination. She said she had yet to write the chapter she plans to devote to Mr. Obama and argued with descriptions of her book as “pro-Obama.”

But that doesn’t stop people from jumping to conclusions, or trying to game the system so their point of view becomes accepted as The Truth.  Another case in point:

Ms. Ifill came under scrutiny shortly after Mr. McCain named Ms. Palin as his running mate. Michael Getler, the PBS ombudsman, reported receiving letters from viewers who wrote they believed Ms. Ifill’s facial expressions while reporting on Ms. Palin’s convention speech betrayed “disgust.”

People are trying to discern what constitutes the “real” person by reading facial expressions, finding keywords like “Obama” to discern bias, and listening to a particular tone to discern disrespect.  The people who complain the most about bias, are, as you might expect, the ones who know the most about it because, well, they harbor intense bias themselves.

It’s a game, folks.  The game the Right is playing is to demand a bias-free world when it comes to discussing your issues/candidate/ideology, but wanting unfettered free speech when it comes bashing those you disagree with.  The Right excels at this, and will use any opportunity to push the “bias” button when given the opportunity. So what’s the reason for this latest addition the Noise Machine?  Two words: Sarah Palin.  Yeah, there’s so much attention being paid to the foibles of Palin in her media appearances of the past week and a half, that her supporters are doing everything they can, as Bob Shrum said, to shield her from anything that might not go well for her.  The charge of sexism might not work, so use bias to throw the moderator off balance before the debate. Gwen is, after all, a woman (and a black woman at that), so they can’t successfully pin the label “sexist” on her, but because she has a book which has Obama in the title, they can paint her as a partisan with an ax to grind. We all have our biases, so I’m not sure what would satisfy those who know the “soul” of a person simply by reading facial expression or book titles. Oh, I know, maybe Asimo, the robot made by Honda.

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