Ifill is a moderator on PBS' "Washington Week." Her book,"The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," examines the "black political structure." She says in the book that the civil rights movement is giving way to men and women who have benefited from the struggles over racial equality, according to Unruh.
This creates a conflict of interest for Ifill as moderator of the debate. The success of her book is hinged on Obama winning the election.
This is not the first time she has been accused of favoritism toward Democrats. Unruh gives two examples of what Republicans believe is bias against their candidates.
During a vice-presidential candidate debate she moderated in 2004 – when Democrat John Edwards attacked Republican Dick Cheney's former employer, Halliburton – the vice president said, "I can respond, Gwen, but it's going to take more than 30 seconds."
"Well, that's all you've got," she told Cheney.
More recently, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler said that he received a number of complaints about how Ifill reacted to Palin's speech at the GOP convention.
According to Unruh, some viewers complained of a "dismissive" look by Ifill during her report on Palin's speech. Getler said some also said she wore a look of "disgust" while reporting on the Republican candidate. At that time Ifill said, "I assume there will always be critics and just shut out the noise. It is surprisingly easy."
One PBS viewer, Brian Meyers of Granby, Conn., said he was appalled by Ifill's commentary.
"Her attitude was dismissive and the look on her face was one of disgust," Meyers said. "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."
Here is the clip in question:
Fox News commentator Greta Van Susteren reported the McCain campaign didn't know about the book.
"It simply is not fair – in law, this would create a mistrial," she said.
Juan Williams, a senior correspondent with National Public Radio and a commentator on FOX News, defended Ifill but noted the conflict of interest.
"I think Gwen has been a terrific journalist," he said. "She spent a lot of time with Obama. She praises him in the book. The book's success [is] invested in Obama. ... Suddenly everyone's going to be saying Gwen Ifill is somewhat biased against Gov. Palin."