Despite the protestations of her colleagues that she will be fair, Ifill has appeared on numerous radio and TV talk shows over the past several months to cash in on her access to the Obama campaign. She recently penned a fawning cover story on the Obamas for Essence magazine that earned much buzz. The title? "The Obamas: Portrait of an American Family." A sample of Ifill's hard-hitting investigative journalism, illustrated with Kennedy-esque photos of the Obamas and children posing at home on the back porch and by the piano:
"Barack Obama is sitting in the back of his rented luxury campaign bus with its granite counters and two flat-screen TVs. The Illinois senator's arms are wrapped around his wife, Michelle, whom he doesn't get to see much these days. At this very moment he is, of all things, singing."
During the Democratic National Convention, Ifill offered her neutral analysis on NBC News before Michelle Obama's speech: "A lot of people have never seen anything that looks like a Michelle Obama before. She's educated, she's beautiful, she's tall, she tells you what she thinks and they hope that she can tell a story about Barack Obama and about herself."
During the Republican National Convention, the PBS ombudsman fielded numerous complaints about Ifill's coverage of Sarah Palin's speech. Wrote Brian Meyers of Granby, Ct.:
"I was appalled by Gwen Ifill's commentary directly following Gov. Sarah Palin's speech. Her attitude was dismissive and the look on her face was one of disgust. Clearly, she was agitated by what most critics view as a well-delivered speech. It is quite obvious that Ms. Ifill supports Obama as she struggled to say anything redemptive about Gov. Palin's performance. I am disappointed in Ms. Ifill's complete disregard for journalistic objectivity."
Like Obama, Ifill, who is black, is quick to play the race card at the first sign of criticism. In an interview with the Washington Post a few weeks ago, she carped: "[N]o one's ever assumed a white reporter can't cover a white candidate."
It's not the color of your skin, sweetie. It's the color of your politics. Perhaps Ifill will be able to conceal it this week. But if the "stunning" "Breakthrough" she's rooting for comes to pass on Jan. 20, 2009, nobody will be fooled.