PBS’s legendary anchor Gwen Ifill, who moderated the 2004 and 2008 Vice Presidential Debates along with one of the debates between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has passed away at the age of 61.
Ifill was the moderator and managing editor of ‘Washington Week’ and co-anchor and co-managing editor, with Judy Woodruff, of PBS NewsHour, both of which air on PBS. She was also the author of the best selling book ‘The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.’
Here are five important facts about the legendary journalist:
1. Ifill was born in New York City and lived in several areas along the East Coast of the United States while growing up. Her parents are both immigrants. Her father, Ucille Ifill, an AME minister, is a Barbadian who immigrated from Panama. Her mother, Eleanor, immigrated from Barbadoes. She was the fifth of six children.
2. A graduate of Simmons College, she previously worked for the Boston Herald American, the Baltimore Evening Sun, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and NBC. “I always knew I wanted to be a journalist, and my first love was newspapers. But public broadcasting provides the best of both worlds — combining the depth of newspapering with the immediate impact of broadcast television.” Ifill said in her bio.
3. The journalist angered many on Twitter last year when she sent a tweet directed at Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She posted a link to a graphic which was designed by the Obama administration to promote the Iran Nuclear deal and wrote, “Take that, Bibi,” which is Netanyahu’s nickname. Netanyahu, of course, had been vigorously campaigning against the deal.
Take that, Bibi. https://t.co/V9Gn9vP6xN
— gwen ifill (@gwenifill) September 2, 2015
At the time, PBS ombudsman Michael Getler called the tweet “inexcusable” and said it was a “real self-inflicted wound” after the outcry, mainly from the right. Getler wrote:
“Ifill is a highly experienced journalist, very quick, alert, knowledgeable, and with an engaging on-air personality. She also has a talented eye for the ironies and political turnabouts in the daily flow of news that contributes to her presence. But PBS and the NewsHour are bigger than any individual and tweeting does not appear to be a tool, in these cases, that is appropriate for maintaining credibility, which is the bedrock for news organizations.”
Ifill stood by her sentiments:
“No it was not a shot at Prime Minister Netanyahu, even though it has become apparent that, in certain circles, it was taken as one,” she wrote. “I was calling attention to what seemed to me to be criticism directed toward him coming from State.”
4. Ifill never married, nor did she have any children. In an interview with Time Magazine in 2008 she said “I don’t know why I’m not married. I just know I will be, so I don’t sweat it.
5. The anchor was absent during PBS’s presidential election coverage. At the time, it was not widely known why she was gone. However, it was due to health issues, according to Politico. She had been quietly battling cancer. She died in hospice care surrounded by family and friends after several months of treatment.
“It is with extremely heavy hearts that we must share that our dear friend and beloved colleague Gwen Ifill passed away this afternoon following several months of cancer treatment,” PBS NewsHour said in a statement on Monday. “She was surrounded by loving family and many friends whom we ask that you keep in your thoughts and prayers.”
She was widely respected especially by those in Washington. Politicians on both side of the aisle are mourning her death.
Saddened by the passing of Gwen Ifill – a true trailblazer in her field and a role model for young women journalists across the nation.
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) November 14, 2016
Saddened by the death of Gwen Ifill, a NY'er, trailblazer, award winning reporter & model of integrity. Thoughts are w/ her loved ones today
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) November 14, 2016
I am saddened to learn about the passing of Gwen Ifill—an incredibly talented and respected journalist.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) November 14, 2016
I'm saddened to learn of the passing of @gwenifill. She was an amazing journalist and will be truly missed.
— Dr. Ben Carson (@RealBenCarson) November 14, 2016