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September 03, 2015

PBS Ombudsman on Ifill Tweet: Self-Inflicted Wound

gwen ifill tweet 2.JPG

Michael Getler, the ombudsman for PBS, published a piece titled More Self-Inflicted Wounds in which he criticizes PBS Newshour anchor and Washington Week moderator Gwen Ifill for her mocking tweet "Take that, Bibi." Ifill's tweet was in response to an announcement that there were enough Democrat senators signed on to President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran to avert a Senate override of a Presidential veto of any Senate bill to block implementation of the deal.

Getler wrote,

"Take that Bibi," is in my book, inexcusable for an experienced journalist who is the co-anchor of a nightly news program watched by millions of people over the course of any week.

The question that remains is what will PBS do to censure or discipline Ifill for her breach of journalistic standards? Getler points out that this is not the first time Ifill has demonstrated her lack of professionalism and bias. He recounts an incident in 2012 when a reporter for Yahoo, David Chalian, unaware that his mic was still on, commented on Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his entourage, "They are happy to have a party with black people drowning."

This was an allusion to the flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Chalian was fired for this breach of professionalism.

Ifill tweeted, "One mistake does not change this. @DavidChalian is God's gift to political journalism. #IStandwithDavid."

Getler commented at the time, "I can understand Ifill's wanting to go to bat for a friend and colleague but my personal view is that this was a big mistake on her part, feeding, unnecessarily, a conviction among many critics and reflecting poorly on PBS."

Similarly, PBS has had to contend with a longstanding perception that it had an "Israel problem", a perception which it has sought to overcome. Ifill's taunt of Israel's Prime Minister also to borrow Getler's phrase, "feeds, unnecessarily a conviction" that PBS remains antagonistic toward the Jewish state and cannot be relied upon to cover issues relating to Israel free from bias.

Posted by SS at September 3, 2015 01:56 PM


Well since the "journalist" in question works for the oh so balanced PBS and was talking about a problem issue, you know, joos who don't toe the line dictated by president lightbringer, I see no punishment coming down the pipeline. Maybe some facile on air apology while commending some Hamas terrorist or a Democrat voting to fund Iran.

Posted by: JP at September 5, 2015 05:18 PM

Gwen Ifill has repeatedly shown a non-objective attitude towards news reporting and her uncritical support for Obama - no matter what the topic is. Does she do that because she is also black? If so, that is a non-professional attitude and she should be removed from a role that requires full honesty, objectiveness, and competence.

Posted by: Ralph Bernstein at September 10, 2015 01:17 PM

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