Thursday, October 30, 2008

"...paper is not just how news is delivered; it is how it is paid for."

So wrote David Carr in the NYT this week. His column includes a "print deathwatch" roll call as well as an oblique reminder that it's not where the news appears that matters -- but how we will pay for folks to cover it. Scary stuff.

Clearly, reinvention must be on the horizon. Or under the rug. Wherever. Let's just hope the smart people are looking.

But meanwhile, back to Carr. He writes:

"More than 90 percent of the newspaper industry’s revenue still derives from the print product, a legacy technology that attracts fewer consumers and advertisers every single day. A single newspaper ad might cost many thousands of dollars while an online ad might only bring in $20 for each 1,000 customers who see it.

The difference between print dollars and digital dimes — or sometimes pennies — is being taken out of the newsrooms that supply both. And while it is indeed tough all over in this economy, consider the consequences.

New Jersey, a petri dish of corruption, will have to make do with 40 percent fewer reporters at The Star-Ledger, one of the few remaining cops on the beat. The Los Angeles Times, which toils under Hollywood’s nose, has one movie reviewer left on staff. And dozens of communities served by Gannett will have fewer reporters and editors overseeing the deeds and misdeeds of local government and businesses."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

everything i learned about journalism ...

... i learned from Jon Stewart? And Campbell Brown?

You probably already saw this, but if not, listen/watch what she has to say about "false equivalency" (aka "balance), access, the Washington press corps, and partisan news media. She gets it. bk

- more -

Back to thirty:

The LA Times reports that the Christian Science Monitor will become the nation's first newspaper to drop its daily print edition in favor of its online "treeless" edition. A sign of the times, or a prudent economic move? You have to hope that the 5 million online page-views will be able to support a robust reporting staff and that the journalism will remain the same quality that earned the paper seven Pullitzers. But still. It's a sign of the times.

In response, former capstoner Timi Gould, who once had "" in her email address, wonders: "IS online the answer? Are online ad sales more profitable? Are online articles the same quality as those that would run in the paper? Is newspaper page layout and design a thing of the past?"

To which my answer is, well, I don't have one. But I do have some questions of my own.

For example, in Monday's column about the increasing polarization of the news media, Howard Kurtz wonders whether Fox's Sean Hannity and MSNBC's Keith Olberman are "watching the same presidential race, or even living in the same country?"

He continues: "Prime-time viewers of Fox News and MSNBC get vastly different perspectives on the campaign that sometimes approach mirror images. This goes well beyond the hosts' political views to the booking of guests and the way stories are framed, pumped up and sometimes ignored. In that sense, the programs reflect the increasing polarization of the media world, where columnists, strategists, bloggers and radio talkers have built thriving careers catering to those who already agree with them."

Here's what worries me: as daily newspapers (and the straight-ahead journalism that they support) shrink, the growth industry appears to be opinion, either via cable or the blogosphere. Not sure that makes for an informed citizenry. Full disclosure: I am an Olberman junkie. Still, I recognize that folks like him and Hannity are preaching to the choir. But. Does everyone?

Finally, this is so preposterous, I can't even comment. According to a piece in USA Today last week, Media News Group CEO Dean Singleton, whose media company has presided over the near-dismantling of our beloved Mercury News, spoke to the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, suggesting that newspapers consider outsourcing many of their daily operations.


"One thing we're exploring is having one news desk for all of our newspapers in MediaNews ... maybe even offshore," said Singleton, whose company owns 54 newspapers, several in the Bay Area, and who may well be the poster child for Molly Ivins' apochryphal comment about newspapers committing suicide.

Of course, that's just my opinion (Yep, I'm doing just what I worry about. See above.) bk

Monday, October 27, 2008

I don't know who's writing your questions...

One of my loyal readers told me tonight that today's post was a big fat bore. I didn't think so, but whatever...

So anyhow, remember that post about interviewing a few weeks back where I referenced John Sawatsky's interviewing techniques vis-a-vis (oops, getting boring again) Katie Couric's interview with Sarah Palin re the Supreme Court?

Here's a case study in how NOT to interview -- in how the opposite approach can backfire bigtime. Object lesson: any time your source responds to a question with "Is this a joke? Is that a real question?" -- you've blown it. Watch the video of an exchange between vice presidential candidate Joe Biden and WFTV reporter Barbara West. It hits the fan about two minutes in. (Be sure to jump past the online ad.)

Biden: 1, West, 0.

This one, not a bore. Alrighty? bk

- thirty -

Where are the smart people?

Forbes and Editor and Publisher report more bad news about the newspaper industry. Note, though, that the untimely demise of newspapers does not necessarily mean the death of journalism.

Or does it? Where is the brainstorming about new directions for the news biz that will sustain the quality journalism that not only serves our democracy but is accessible to all? We need some creative ideas to go along with the pit in the stomach and the hand-wringing -- before the "- 30 - " becomes permanent. Anyone out there? bk

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

on ethics

Three quick questions:

Where do you draw the line between private and public figures? How do you define rights to privacy? And how do anonymous sources muck things up?

Three linx for your consideration. The New York Times did a feature on Cindy McCain this past weekend. Read it here.

Salon's Glenn Greenwald questions whether that piece was relevant or just dredging up gossip.

Finally, last week the University of Texas El Paso campus newspaper ran a story about the forced resignation of the homecoming queen. (Be sure to look at the sourcing.)

And check out the aftermath.

I guess that was four. bk

just curious:

According to Beet.TV, the Wall Street Journal is currently training many of its print reporters to use video as well. The site further reports that "as of June, 185 print reporters at The Washington Post had been trained to produce online video."

Is this an indication that reporters will soon be expected to report across multi-platforms? A sign, as Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer predicts here, that print will be gone entirely in ten years?

If both Beet.TV and Ballmer are right, I wonder what the impact will be -- on the news media itself and on those who either produce it or rely upon it. Your guess: good as mine. bk

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

three on numbers

We did a lot of riffing about numbers back in September: here, here, here and here.
More below:

Here's a cautionary tale on a little numbers-tweaking by a New York Times freelancer who stretched a few stats to mean more than they actually did. Moral of the story: Don't twist. Don't stretch. Don't assume. Read about it on

For all you numbers geeks, the San Francisco Chronicle on Saturday took a look at all the new polling aggregators, including, which have sprung to the fore this campaign season. The piece also looks at reasons why some political polls can sometimes go wrong.

Finally, a quick read of Howard Kurtz's column in yesterday's WaPo makes you wonder if journalists who rely too heavily on polls in their reporting can actually affect the outcome of an election. You also wonder if over-reliance on data/handicapping the races can sometimes blind reporters to the other cues out there, so that ultimately the story goes south. bk

Sunday, October 19, 2008

cocktails for capstoners

Four of the former capstoners who now live in the Big Apple met for drinks not long ago. According to Megan, who forwarded the pix, they talked a lot about journalism, reminisced (clearly, in a revisionist way) about capstone, and talked story ideas with Jeremy, now in j-school at Columbia.

I figured they would have all met in some chi-chi bar over in the meat-packing district or some such glamorous locale. Not quite. The meet took place at a dive in the East Village called Kings Tavern. "I suggested the place because draft beers were $4 that night... and that is a big deal here!" Megan wrote.

Not exactly The Hut, but then, so few things are.

From left: Kristin Swenson ('07), Alice Joy ('06), Jeremy Herb ('08) and Megan O'Connor ('07).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

on the tube

Gotta wonder:

Why Sarah Palin would do a drive-by on Saturday Night Live tonight, but has never been on "Meet the Press", arguably a more appropriate venue for a vice-presidential candidate.

And so I just emailed "Meet the Press" that very question, asking if they would publicly invite Ms. Palin to appear on the program, given the fact that she apparently has no aversion to NBC. (see above.)

Clearly, it's in the public interest for the voters to see either how she would come across on this influential, unscripted and important forum -- or her reasons for sending her regrets.

Just asking. Maybe you should, too. bk

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

signs of the times

For sale signs, that is.

We heard rumors a few weeks ago, but now it's apparently official. The San Jose Mercury reports today that its longtime headquarters and surrounding land are up for sale. In the story, Merc publisher Mac Tully says that the newspaper could save money by moving to smaller offices. A relevant point, seeing as how the workforce has decreased exponentially since the paper was taken over by Denver-based MediaNews Group a few years back. Tully notes that an adjacent parcel of land -- to be converted into a big-box shopping site -- just sold for somewhere near $27 million.

One question is whether the money saved by the sale and proposed move to smaller digs would be used to rebuild the paper -- which almost shrinks as you hold it -- into a news organization that will again serve Silicon Valley as it once did. The other question, slightly scarier, is where those new digs might be. Tully acknowledges that the paper has not yet found a new location.

Coincidentally, my intro class just turned in an assignment in which they created their own blueprints for the news media of the future, with special consideration to the principles laid out in The Elements of Journalism, Kovach and Rosenstiel's treatise on the relationship of journalism and democracy. These j-kids represent the generation of fresh-thinking, techno-savvy future journalists who may one day lead the news media through these scary growing pains into something the old-timers have yet to imagine. Their blueprints reflect a certain amount of idealism and passion for all that journalism could be, something that has been drained away -- along with the money -- from so many daily newspapers today.

Maybe folks like Tully should pay attention. bk

p.s. More dismal news. The Boston Herald reported last week that Portland, Maine "could become one of the first American cities to lose its daily newspaper. The Portland Press Herald said in court papers last month that it is hemorrhaging so badly that it may have to be dismantled if it isn't sold."


In the wake of last weekend's negative campaign blitz by the McCain Palin campaign, we had a few class discussions -- roughly linked to posts on fairness and objectivity -- regarding how reporters should cover speeches of the "pallin' around with terrorists" variety.

Or if they should cover them at all.

The ultimate conclusion by both introductory and advanced j. students was that, yes, such stump speeches should be covered, no matter how hate-filled, not necessarily for what they reveal about the opponent but for what they reveal about the candidate him/herself. In other words, my students were smart enough to suspect over a week ago that the McCain-Palin attack tactics were likely to backfire.

The latest New York Times/CBS poll found that the kids were all right. The poll found that, among probably voters, Obama held a 14 point lead over McCain, 53 - 39. Among those voters who had changed their opinions, the Times writes:

"Voters who said their opinions of Mr. Obama had changed recently were twice as likely to say they had grown more favorable as to say they had worsened. And voters who said that their views of Mr. McCain had changed were three times more likely to say that they had worsened than to say they had improved.

"The top reasons cited by those who said they thought less of Mr. McCain were his recent attacks and his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate. (The vast majority said their opinions of Mr. Obama of Illinois, the Democratic nominee, and Mr. McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, had remained unchanged in recent weeks.) But in recent days, Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin have scaled back their attacks on Mr. Obama, although Mr. McCain suggested he might aggressively take on Mr. Obama in Wednesday’s debate."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

trash posting

Now back to uncharted territory.

Today in class Keegan brought up a microdiscussion about Juicy Campus*, a website that allows anonymous posters to talk trash about their friends, their classmates, their teachers online. One aspect of the discussion involved whether or not the posts on this gossip site constitute speech protected by the first amendment.

But even if the posts weren't protected, who could you sue? Further: Who can be called to task when an anonymous source libels someone online? And for that reason, what constitutes libel online? Does the First Amendments offer blogs the same protection as, say, The New York Times? Should it?

We've addressed these issues previously, here and here, among other places. But more to the case at hand, the following article from CNN might provide if not an answer, at least food for thought. Among other things, the piece reports:

"Juicy Campus and similar Web sites are protected under Communications Decency Act of 1996. The Act aims to shield Web publishers from liability for libelous comments posted by third parties. The section states "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

* the lack of a link to juicy campus is wholly intentional on my part.

Monday, October 13, 2008


We knew them when.

Jeremy Herb reports that Jack Gillum, former EIC of The Santa Clara and on his way to a new gig at USA Today, won this award for "excellence in news" for a data-driven investigative series on social promotion in schools.

And Jeremy, also a former EIC of The Santa Clara and now a j-student at Columbia, just found out that an investigative series on clergy child sex abuse in the Diocese of Oakland that he worked on for the Fremont Argus last year won this award for public service from the APME. Read the first part of the series here.

Congrats, guys! bk

no news is...

... no newspapers?

Bloomberg (thanks, Kristin) reports today that a number of daily newspapers are cutting their Monday editions in an attempt to economize. Why Mondays?

The main reason is that it's a slow day for advertising, which is why Monday papers are so thin. But could another reason relate to that much-maligned, somewhat tongue-in-cheek definition: news is what newsmakers say it is?

On Sundays, they rest. bk

Saturday, October 11, 2008

on balance

My friend Max forwarded a link to a recent speech by John Walcott, Washington bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers, upon his acceptance of the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence from Bob Giles of the Nieman Foundation.

Walcott, then Knight Ridder Washington bureau chief, was the leader of a team of reporters who were among the few to actively question the run-up to the Iraq war. He was honored for his role in questioning the administration and investigating a story that went counter to almost everything in the mainstream media at the time. (Knight Ridder was bought by McClatchy Newspapers in 2006)

You can read the whole speech here. Here's what he had to say about "balance" as a substitute for true objectivity:

That brings me to my last point: Relying on The Times, or McClatchy or any other news source, for all the truth is dumb, but it's infinitely preferable to the pernicious philosophical notions that there is no such thing as truth, that truth is relative, or that, as some journalists seem to believe, it can be found midway between the two opposing poles of any argument.

My father, who's with us today, made his living designing navigational instruments for aircraft, missiles and submarines, and although my mathematical and engineering skills are, shall we say, less evident than his, I learned two important lessons from his work.

The first is that if you want to know where you are, it's helpful to know where you started. The second is a concept that's called "ground truth," which in a nutshell means checking your calculations against information collected on the ground. In other words, reporting.

I know that I'm wading into deep and muddy water here, but I'm doing so in deference, or rather, in reverence, to the fact that I.F. Stone was a scholar as well as a journalist. He taught himself ancient Greek to write about the trial of Socrates, and I still struggle with modern French, but I'll wade in nevertheless.

Does the truth lie halfway between say, slavery and abolition, or between segregation and civil rights, or between communism and democracy? If you quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Winston Churchill, in other words, must you then give equal time and credence to Hitler and Joseph Goebbels? If you write an article that's critical of John McCain, are you then obligated to devote an identical number of words to criticism of Barack Obama, and vice versa?

The idea that truth is merely a social construct, that it's subjective, in other words, first appeared in academia as a corruption of post-modernism, but it’s taken root in our culture without our really realizing it or understanding its implications.

It began with liberal academics arguing, for example, that some Southwestern Indians' belief that humans are descended from a subterranean world of supernatural spirits is, as one archaeologist put it, "just as valid as archaeology." As NYU philosophy professor Paul Boghossian puts it in a wonderful little book, "Fear of Knowledge": " ... the idea that there are many equally valid ways of knowing the world, with science being just one of them, has taken very deep root."

Although this kind of thinking, relativism and constructivism, started on the left, many conservatives now feel empowered by it, too, and some of them have embraced it with a vengeance on issues ranging from global warming and evolution to the war in Iraq.

"Journalists live in the reality-based world," a White House official told Ron Suskind, writing for The New York Times Magazine back in the headier days of 2004. "The world doesn't really work that way any more. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."

I respectfully disagree.

The Church was wrong, and Copernicus and Galileo were right.

There is not one truth for Fox News and another for The Nation. Fair is not always balanced, and balanced is not always fair.

No matter how devoutly they may have believed their own propaganda, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were wrong about Enron, and a whole lot of very smart, very rich people were very wrong about mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps.

President Bush was wrong to think that it would be a simple matter to make Iraq the mother of all Mideast democracy.

Or, as the French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau said when he was asked what he thought historians might say about the First World War: "They will not say that Belgium invaded Germany."

I'm not talking here about matters of taste or of partisan politics or, heaven help us, of faith: Whether Monet or Manet was a better painter or whether Jesus was the Messiah, a prophet or a fraud. Those are personal matters, beliefs, opinions and preferences of which we all must learn to be more tolerant.

Harry G. Frankfurt, an emeritus professor of philosophy at Princeton, puts it this way in a marvelous little book called, "On Truth" (which is the sequel to "On Bullshit"): "It seems ever more clear to me that higher levels of civilization must depend even more heavily on a conscientious respect for the importance of honesty and clarity in reporting the facts, and on a stubborn concern for accuracy in determining what the facts are."

That is what I.F. Stone always sought to do, and I think it's what journalists should always strive to do. If, in the short run, doing so seems costly, I think we've all seen, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and now on Wall Street and on Main Street, that the costs of not doing so are far greater.

Photo credit: Michael Temchine / Nieman Foundation

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

res ipsa loquitur

Mail Goggles: You may not be able to stop yourself from drunk dialing, but this little widget could stop you from drunk emailing.


Yeah, I know. Nothing to do with journalism. But. The thing speaks for itself. Which by the way, is what the title up there means. (For those of you who have been reading it on the mag class syllabus and never did figure it out.) Cheers. bk

Monday, October 6, 2008

onto fairness

There's an old saying in journalism: if you use half the information you've gathered in your finished piece, you haven't done nearly enough reporting.

All of which brings up the issue of selectivity. How do you select what you leave in and what gets left in the deep recesses of your hard drive? That's the kind of question that keeps reporters up at night. Or should. It's a big issue -- whether you're thinking column inches or the short attention spans of online readers. Given the limits of time and space, how do you make sure you are playing fair, giving the readers an adequate representation of the facts at hand?

If you read my post on objectivity yesterday, you can guess where I'm going with this. Sarah Palin was on a money-raising tour of the San Francisco Bay Area yesterday, where her "palling around with terrorists" (actually she changed the plural to singular) has become her new stump speech.

Her speech was covered by both the San Jose Mercury and the San Francisco Chronicle. Good pieces that covered what she said, within the context of what such attacks mean for the campaign. Both included responses from the Obama campaign as well. Balance, right?

But what struck me is what the reporters who covered the speech (or their copy editors) left out. Namely that Bill Ayers, the domestic terrorist to whom Palin refers, is a Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He and Barrack Obama met while working on a project that was a part of a national school reform effort financed by Walter H. Annenberg, the publisher and philanthropist and President Richard M. Nixon’s ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Seems to me, that little add should be included as well for the folks who read what Palin says, but never go any further than that.

Just to be fair. bk

more quick linx

My post on spin-spotter a couple weeks ago spurred Jeremy Herb to give the app a whirl. At best, sub-par. Read what he found out here.

Another former capstoner, Matt Rankin, just forwarded the following link from HuffPo on the role of blogging in a democracy. The post features four spirited speeches delivered by students in the Yale Political Union in a debate on whether blogs help or hinder.

Go here for the latest issue of the neiman narrative digest. One of the "notable narratives" is all about numbers: -- a blog.

Mediabistro today included links to three articles on citizen journalism, regarding the recent faux post on Steve Job's "heart attack" -- totally untrue -- which sent Apple shares plummeting. Wired suggests that if the poster was trying to manipulate the market, he could end up doing time for it. Tech Crunch notes that because the post was on iReport, it carried a lot more weight than it might have because of the CNN imprimatur. And MarketWatch says "that from this we will see a re-evaluation of the idea of so-called citizen journalists, with a lot of criticism coming their way. My advice: Get over it. We're stuck with what we have." Growing pains, yeah?

And finally, WaPo's Howard Kurtz hits a theme we talk about all the time in class. The essence of reporting: looking under the rug and at the horizon. He looks at why the business press didn't see the Wall Street mess coming. Or if they did, why there was no warning.

That's it, at least for now. bk

Sunday, October 5, 2008

object lessons in objectivity

It's about the methods, folks. Not some freakish sense of balance in the finished piece.

In class discussions on objectivity, I often quote something from a piece by Joshuah Bearman I found on alternet a few years back: "Contrary to dogma of J-schools across country, there are not always two sides to a story. Balance is often necessary and indispensable, but there are times when media might have to mediate a bunch of information and make a judgment. And in those instances, presenting contrasting information as if it’s equally important is, in fact, the false representation – more false than saying, 'I’ve gathered a lot of material and vetted it all, and here’s my assessment.'"

Take Sarah Palin's speech in SoCal on Saturday. She was quoted in the LA Times as characterizing Obama as someone who "pals around with terrorists". From the article: "Evidently there's been a lot of interest in what I read lately," she said. "I was reading today a copy of the New York Times. And I was really interested to read in there about Barack Obama's friends from Chicago. Turns out one of his earliest supporters is a man who, according to the New York Times, was a domestic terrorist, that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and the United States Capitol.' "

The LA Times piece balanced her claim thus: "The New York Times article, an investigation published Friday into whether Obama had a relationship with Ayers, concluded that the men were never close and that Obama has denounced Ayers' radical past, which occurred when Obama was a child. The article also said Obama 'has played down his contacts with' Ayers."

And then gave the Obama camp a chance to respond: "Gov. Palin's comments, while offensive, are not surprising, given the McCain campaign's statement this morning that they would be launching Swift Boat-like attacks in hopes of deflecting attention from the nation's economic ills," said spokesman Hari Sevugan.

"In fact, the very newspaper story Gov. Palin cited in hurling her shameless attack made clear that Sen. Obama is not close to Bill Ayers, much less 'pals,' and that he has strongly condemned the despicable acts Ayers committed 40 years ago, when Obama was 8. What's clear is that John McCain and Sarah Palin would rather spend their time tearing down Barack Obama than laying out a plan to build up our economy."

Balanced, right? But objective? You decide. Here's the whole story from the New York Times to which Palin was referring.

One last exasperated riff: Today's "Lies, Half-Truths Outed" chart, a weekly compilation of campaign lies and misrepresentations in the San Francisco Chronicle, focused on Thursday's debate between Biden and Palin. Take a quick look at the chart and it appears as if both candidates lied and/or stretched the truth in equal measure. Really? What a coincidence. bk

Friday, October 3, 2008

...can you think of any?

According to interview guru John Sawatsky, you don't need to be a pit bull named Bruiser to conduct a good interview. In a piece I read so long ago that i can't remember where I put it, he posits that the best interviews, in fact, are about discipline on the part of the reporter, rather than the power differential between interviewer and source. They are about listening, leading the source down the path toward the given goal: staying in control by playing nice.

Which brings up Katie Couric's exchange with Sarah Palin wrt the Supreme Court. Watch how Couric's quiet little follow-up gets the job done:

follow the money...

Business Week's Jon Fine ponders where advertising dollars will end up as more and more local dailies meet their untimely demise. He suggests the first beneficiaries might be local TV and possibly glossy monthlies in affluent cities -- not always bastions of good journalism -- but concludes that as traditional news outlets decline, journalistic energies will migrate to a cyber-ecosystem.

His question: will the ad money follow? My question: if it doesn't, how will we support good journalism?

(There are blogs that make money, according to Slate's Mike Agger, but i don't know if you'd consider many of these good journalism...)

Anyway, back to Fine's piece. He writes:

"The obvious venues for all this displaced journalistic energy are a gazillion new independent online endeavors, be they individual blogs or bigger efforts like They will make for fascinating media ecosystems within individual cities, and some will become hits. It is much less certain whether ad dollars will follow. Ultracheap classifieds site craigslist has simply "destroyed revenue," says Dave Morgan, a former newspaper executive who founded behavioral targeting firm Tacoda, and revenue that no longer exists won't shift to new ventures. Others point out that key newspaper advertisers—local auto dealers and realtors, say—already have many outlets for ads online, not least of which are their own Web sites or national sites such as that serve up targeted ads."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Does the fact that Gwen Ifill is writing a book on race and politics that includes material on Barack Obama disqualify her from moderating tomorrow night's vice-presidential debate? Conservative blogs have been buzzing all day, suggesting that her book "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," is evidence that she is in the pocket of the Obama campaign. Read Ifill's response in the Huffington Post.

Word of her book has been on the street for a few months, writes Howard Kurtz in the WaPo. You have to wonder why it's become an issue the day before the debate.

Ifill says that she has not yet written the chapter on Obama and is curious as to why people assume it will even be favorable. She tells the Huffington Post: "Do you think they made the same assumptions about Lou Cannon (who is white) when he wrote his book about Reagan?" said Ifill, who is black. Asked if there were racial motives at play, she said, "I don't know what it is. I find it curious."

Photo credit: Associated Press