Today, the nation is learning of the passing of trailblazing author, journalist and newscaster Gwen Ifill. She is most well known for her work with PBS’ “Newshour” in addition to her contributions as a moderator during political debates.
Ms. Ifill has long been a staple in my home.
There is a small tv set in my parents kitchen and it was routine for my father to turn on the news while either he or my mom cooked dinner.
PBS made frequent appearances in the channel surfing rotation
As a teenager, my political awareness was still budding.
But when I saw Gwen Ifill on tv, I knew that things made sense.
I may not have known all of the boring policy details or had any idea what was being said, but I remember seeing her face and knowing that everything would be ok. Her beautiful face radiated more than enough warmth to heat the stove that the boiled the sweet potatoes.
Gwen departs this earthly plane right as America stands on the precipice of a world unknown.
But I don’t fear Trump
What I fear is the present culture of ratings-driven sensationalized news that helped make the nightmare of President Trump a reality.
A culture of 24/7 corporate hype machines that values tweets over truth-telling.
I worry about Donald Trump but not as much as I fear a world where the reporting that is compromised by ratings allowed Trump’s unhinged base to become emboldened in their rage.
Fox News, MSNBC & CNN are all culpable.
Bill O’Reilly, Hannity, Megan Kelly, Wolf Blitzer, Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, Chris Matthews, Joe, Mika. Even anchors who I enjoy like Rachel Maddow & Anderson Cooper. All of them, in their own way have been conditioned to justify and/or fetishize the dramatics an endless news cycle.
Enter Gwen Ifill.
She represented all of those things
and emitted a beauty that even a 4k television couldn’t capture.
Maybe Ms. Ifill’s body expired because she too was fatigued by the state of our news culture.
Or maybe she left us knowing that her work here is done that empowered us with what it takes to carry on.
I prefer to believe the latter
Whatever her reasons.
Whatever her thoughts.
This news is tragic.
Although we have been diminished by her loss,
we have been exponentially increased by her life and how she chose to share it with us.
I willl miss seeing her face illuminate my tv with an angelic brown glow.
I will never forget her lessons that with clarity, truth, dignity and kindness
-everything will be ok.
Rest in Power, Ms. Ifill