Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of the public television station WETA in Washington, D.C., emailed her staff to say Ifill, the moderator of Washington Week and co-anchor of PBS NewsHour, passed away in hospice care. She was 61.
Ifill and her PBS colleague Judy Woodruff took over NewsHour from Jim Lehrer in 2013, and they “become the first female co-anchor team for a network news broadcast,” according to the public broadcasting trade newspaper Current. Ifill was also a longtime political analyst who moderated vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008, as well as a primary debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton last year. A barrier-breaking black woman in the news business, she authored the 2009 book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.
“Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change,” said PBS NewsHour executive producer Sara Just in a statement, according to Politico. “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.”