The award-winning, widely-admired journalist and trailblazer Gwen Ifill died Monday after a battle with cancer. Ifill’s career took off in the late 1970s and spanned nearly four decades. Her journey took her from writing for several newspapers, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, to roles as a moderator and news correspondent on multiple television programs. She gained mainstream recognition after being parodied on Saturday Night Live by Queen Latifah as the moderator of the 2008 vice presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.
Ifill’s death was met with an outpouring of condolences by journalists and people around the world. President Obama praised her during a press conference, saying, "She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls. Gwen did her country a great service. Michelle and I join her family and her colleagues and everyone else who loved her in celebrating her life.” Rep. John Lewis tweeted, “We mourn the loss of an outstanding and beloved journalist and friend. Gwen Ifill will be deeply missed.” And few from the entertainment industry, such as John Legend, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Wendell Pierce took to social media to express their grief.
Let’s take a moment to celebrate some of Ifill’s best moments.
1. The Time She Called Out Journalists For Not Condemning Don Imus
In 2007, Ifill appeared on Meet the Press and bluntly called out Tim Russert and David Brooks, who were seated with her at the small panel, for being "radio silent" regarding Don Imus' description of the players on Rutgers University's women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hoes." She said:
There has been radio silence from a lot of people who have done this program who could have spoken up and said, "I find this offensive," or "I didn’t know." These people didn’t speak up. Tim, we didn’t hear from you. David, we didn’t hear from you. What was missing in this debate was someone saying, you know, "I understand that this is offensive."
2. Breaking Down Racial Politics In The Age Of Obama
Ifill published her first book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama in 2009, and this fascinating interview clip provides a small glimpse of her work.
3. On Women's Objectification
In an interview with MAKERS, Ifill perfectly described the way in which women are still objectified in today's society, and the tendency we have of putting ourselves down. "You know, women will always find reasons why they are inadequate," she said. "They will always say, you know, 'Well, thank you for that compliment, but my hair wasn't right. I mean we'll always find some way to take away from our accomplishments, rather than saying, 'Thank you, I thought that was good too.'"
4. On Not Believing In Objectivity
In another portion of MAKERS' interview with Ifill, the journalist discusses her take on why she doesn't believe objectivity exists. The clip is a must-watch for anyone working in media.
5. On Why Donald Trump Is Wrong About This
In 2013, Trump tweeted the following message: "26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?" In the clip above, Trump defends that position. Ifill's subsequent response to his reasoning is perfect.
She will be sorely missed.