Gwen Ifill, the first Black woman to host a major political TV program has died. She was 61. Gwen Ifill was one of the most prominent political journalists in the United States. She has covered major events and campaigns. The most notable political events she hosted included moderating the 2004 and 2008 vice presidential debates and a presidential primary debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Gwen Ifill was the best-selling author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama".
In his remarks about Gwen Ifill's passing, during a press conference before his last international trip as the US President, President Obama gave the following tribute:
"I want to offer our deepest condolences to Gwen Ifill’s family and all of you, her colleagues, on her passing. Gwen was a friend of ours. She was an extraordinary journalist. She always kept faith with the fundamental responsibilities of her profession, asking tough questions, holding people in power accountable and defending a strong and free press that makes our democracy work. I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting, even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews. Whether she reported from a convention floor or from the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator’s table or at the anchor’s deck, she not only informed today’s citizens but she also inspired tomorrow’s journalists. She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, tenacity and intellect and for whom she blazed a trail as one-half of the first all-female anchor team on network news. Gwen did her country a great service. Michelle and I join her family and her colleagues and everybody else who loved her in remembering her fondly today."
In 2013, when Gwen Ifill was named co-host of the PBS NewsHour, she confided, during an interview with The New York Times, her reflections on the historical significance of her appointment:
"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."
Gwen Ifill, who died from cancer, has left a big void.