Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week,” a weekly political discussion show, has died after being treated for cancer. Ifill was also managing editor of “PBS NewsHour,” and reported for The Washington Post and The Times, covering Congress, presidential campaigns.
After graduating from Simmons College in Boston with a BA in Communications, Ifill was hired by the Boston Herald-American. During her internship with them, she received a note from a co-worker the read “N**** go home!” The company was embarrassed and apologetic. During her career she has also worked for The Washington Post, NY Times, and NBC.
After covering seven presidential campaigns, in 2004 and 2008, Ifill moderated the vice-presidential debates with great praise from both parties. She did come under questioning during the 2008 debates, however. Conservatives were worried about bias during the debates due to Ifill’s book “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” which was set to be published on inauguration day. Many felt her book caused a conflict of interest, while others (including the Republican candidate) felt she would conduct the debate objectively. Her response to the critics was one of grace-stating: “I’ve got a pretty long track record covering politics and news, so I’m not particularly worried that one-day blog chatter is going to destroy my reputation. The proof is in the pudding. They can watch the debate tomorrow night and make their own decisions about whether or not I’ve done my job.”
Gwen Ifill lost her battle with cancer on November 14, 2016 at the age of 61.