Gwen Ifill Can Preserve Her Journalistic Reputation

Along with the financial retrenching (or is it retranching?) bill, the other hot topic on the political blogs today is Gwen Ifill being the moderator of Thursday’s vice presidential debate. Turns out Ifill is writing a book about Senator Obama as an historic figure of American politics, leading to a reasonable-enough conclusion that she prefers the Democratic nominee.  Michelle Malkin has the toughest critique.

Clearly Ms. Ifill needs to demonstrate her independence by being a fair and tough questioner of both candidates.

In the case of Governor Palin, she can ask probing foreign policy questions or even inquire into Alaska’s reliance on federal government spending, earmarks, etc. Find out how the Governor differs from Senator McCain on global warming. All fair game.

And for Senator Biden, we recommend Ms. Ifill delve into the topic of tort reform, that is, the need to fix a legal system that imposes unnecessary and unjust costs on individuals, companies and the economy.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal’s opinion writers have already prepared the ground for Ms. Ifill in a piece today, “Biden & Partners“:

A remarkable political fact of Mr. Biden’s career is that his top campaign contributor is SimmonsCooper, a law firm in Madison County, Illinois, of all places. Aficionados of tort law will understand. SimmonsCooper is a big asbestos player, and Madison County was until recently one of America’s meccas for jackpot justice. But the story gets better: Mr. Biden has been helping the tort bar turn his home state of Delaware into a statewide Madison County.

But Madison County has been cleaning up its act, so the asbestos lawfirms have taken their litigation to Delaware, spending generously on political candidates in the process. What to do?

The trial bar’s strategy has been to overwhelm Delaware’s once-sensible legal system, taking advantage of rules that pressure companies to settle. In the 22 months following SimmonsCooper’s first asbestos filing in Delaware, the state was hit with 412 suits, primarily from SimmonsCooper and fellow asbestos giant Baron & Budd.

So, questions:

Senator Biden, you recently said at a political fundraiser hosted by the national trial lawyers lobby that you’ve “done more than any other senator combined” for trial lawyers. You added, “There are two people — you’ve heard me say it before — two groups that stand between us and the barbarians at the gate. It’s you and organized labor. That’s it. That is it. So, mark my words, mark my words, if we lose this election, you are going to continue to see a continuation of the onslaught on everything we care about.”

  • Senator, who are these barbarians? When you speak of “doing” for the trial lawyers, what do you mean? Blocking tort reform at the federal level? Stopping the confirmation of “rule of law” judges? Do you think these positions have any impact on U.S. economic competitiveness?
  • What do you think of the growing role of the asbestos litigators in Delaware? Do you think they help accomplish justice?
  • Over the past year we have seen the conviction of some of the most prominent trial attorneys in the country, Dickie Scruggs, Bill Lerach, Mel Weiss and others, suggesting a business model built on corruption. Aren’t they the real barbarians at the gate?

Be tough and fair to both candidates, Ms. Ifill. Your journalistic reputation depends on it.

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