Home · News

Journalists and Politicians Remember Gwen Ifill As A Trailblazer and Role Model

Journalists and politicians reacted in a bipartisan manner with news of her passing
Journalists and Politicians Remember Gwen Ifill As A Trailblazer and Role Model
Brendan Smialowski

Veteran journalist Gwen Ifill died Monday from her battle with endometrial cancer, and the response from journalists and politicians from both side of the aisle show that she was admired most for her integrity and tenacity in an ever-changing news world.

“I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting, even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews,” President Obama said at the top of his first post-election press conference Monday afternoon.

And it was not just Obama and Democrats who responded in kind. GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan called her “an incredibly talented and respected journalist.”

When she took over the hosting gig of “Washington Week in Review” in 1999, Ifill became the first Black woman to host a major political TV talk show. Ifill covered seven presidential campaigns and moderated the vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008. More recently, she moderated a presidential primary debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Ifill was also the best-selling author of “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama”.

In 2013, Ifill was named co-host of the PBS NewsHour alongside Judy Woodruff. Their appointment made them the first female co-anchors of a network news show . In an interview with The New York Times, she reflected on what her appointment could mean to a new generation.

“When I was a little girl watching programs like this — because that’s the kind of nerdy family we were — I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. No women. No people of color,” she said. “I’m very keen about the fact that a little girl now, watching the news, when they see me and Judy [Woodruff] sitting side by side, it will occur to them that that’s perfectly normal — that it won’t seem like any big breakthrough at all.”

Throughout social media friends and colleagues shared their memories of this trailblazer of so many things.