Gwen Ifill, ‘PBS NewsHour’ Host, Dies at 61

Journalist had been absent from election coverage due to health issues

Last Updated: November 14, 2016 @ 2:24 PM

Gwen Ifill, the host of “PBS NewsHour” and “Washington Week,” has died at the age of 61.

The veteran journalist had been struggling with health issues, sitting out the network’s election coverage last week. She had also taken a two-week medical leave in May to “address some ongoing health issues.”

Ifill served as the moderator and managing editor of the political roundtable show “Washington Week,” as well as the the co-anchor of the nightly broadcast “NewsHour” alongside journalist Judy Woodruff.

“Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change,” said “PBS NewsHour” executive producer and WETA SVP​​​ Sara Just 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,” Just continued. “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 began her career as a journalist at the Boston Herald-American before moving on to positions at NBC, The Washington Post and The New York Times. She was appointed moderator of “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for “NewsHour” by PBS in 1999. In 2013, she was elevated to co-anchor and co-managing editor of the nightly broadcast alongside Woodruff.

In 2015, Ifill moderated a Democratic primary debate between presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. She had previously moderated the vice presidential debate in 2004 between Dick Cheney and John Edwards, and in 2008 between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

The author of the book “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” Ifill was scheduled to receive the 2016 John Chancellor Award from Columbia University on Wednesday.