Gwen Ifill--legendary broadcaster journalist and political talking head--has tragically died at the age of 61 from cancer, which she had been battling for some time. A trailblazer for African Americana and female journalists, Ifill was the moderator and managing editor of PBS' Washington Week, a position she'd held since 1999, as well as a senior correspondent for PBS' NewsHour, and appeared on many other major news networks and shows over the years.
She moderated several vice presidential debates, including 2004's debate between Republican Vice President Dick Cheney and the Democratic VP candidate, John Edwards, as well as 2008's debate between Democratic Vice President Joe Biden (then a senator) and Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin (then Governor of Alaska).
Ifill wrote an acclaimed book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, which followed several prominent black politicians, including President Obama and Senator Cory Booker, and was released on January 20, 2009--Obama's inauguration day; it achieved widespread fame after the McCain/Palin campaign claimed it created a bias for Ifill as a moderator.
That, mixed with Ifill's poised and diplomatic presence in such a memorable (and infamous) debate was immortalized by Queen Latifah on SNL.
This past June, Ifill moderated a town hall with President Obama, discussing the many issues surrounding the nightmare election we just endured.
Ifill was a true icon, and another painful chapter in this year of tremendous losses.