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Longtime PBS journalist Gwen Ifill, host of PBS’ Washington Week and co-anchor of PBS NewsHour, died Monday at 61 after a long struggle with cancer.
She joined PBS’s Washington Week, a weekly public affairs broadcast, in 1999 as a moderator, also serving as the program’s managing editor. In 2013, Ifill became co-anchor and co-managing editor with Judy Woodruff for PBS NewsHour.
Even before her tenure at PBS, Ifill worked at NBC News as a chief congressional and political correspondent. Notably, she was a White House correspondent at the New York Times, and a local and national political reporter for Washington Post. She also served as moderator for 2004’s VP debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards and the 2008 VP debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.
“Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change,” Sara Just, PBS NewsHour exec producer and senior VP of public television station WETA, said in a statement. “She was a mentor to so many across the industry and her professionalism was respected across the political spectrum. She was a journalist’s journalist and set an example for all around her. So many people in the audience felt that they knew and adored her. She had a tremendous combination of warmth and authority. She was stopped on the street routinely by people who just wanted to give her a hug and considered her a friend after years of seeing her on TV. We will forever miss her terribly.”
As reported by Variety, President Obama spoke about Ifill at a press conference on Monday, deeming her a “friend and extraordinary journalist who defended a strong and free press. I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting even when I was on the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews.”
“She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, her tenacity and her intellect,” he continued. “Gwen did her country a great service. Michelle and I join her family and her colleagues in remembering her fondly today.”