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Gwen Ifill, Longtime PBS Journalist, Dies at 61

Veteran television journalist Gwen Ifill, the longtime host of PBS’ “Washington Week” and co-anchor of “PBS NewsHour,” has died. She was 61.

A PBS spokesperson confirmed that Ifill passed away Monday after a months-long battle with cancer.

“Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change,” Sara Just, “PBS NewsHour” executive 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.”

Ifill joined PBS as the moderator of “Washington Week,” the public broadcaster’s weekly public-affairs program, in 1999 and served as the show’s managing editor. In 2013 she was named co-anchor and co-managing editor with Judy Woodruff of week-night evening-news broadcast “PBS NewsHour.”

Prior to joining PBS, Ifill served as NBC News’ chief congressional and political correspondent. Previous stops included the New York Times, where she was a White House correspondent, and the Washington Post, where she was a local and national political reporter. She moderated the 2004 vice-presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards and the 2008 vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

President Obama paid tribute to Ifill during his press conference on Monday, calling 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.”

Ifill’s book “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” was published by Doubleday in 2009.

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