Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  November 14, 2016 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

3:00 pm
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> sreenivasan: and i'm hari sreenivasan. >> woodruff: our lead tonight is news we hoped we'd never have to report: our managing editor, my co-anchor and dear friend gwen ifill died earlier today after an almost-year long battle with cancer. she was a supernova in a profession loaded with smart and talented people. so it's no surprise that
3:01 pm
messages of condolence have flooded in all afternoon from across the journalism and political spectrum. president obama said this at the white house. >> michelle and i want to offer our deepest condolences to gwen ifill's family and all of you, her colleagues, on her passing. gwen was a friend of ours, she was an extraordinary journalist, she always kept faith with the fundamental responsibilities of her profession, asking the tough questions, holding people in power accountable, and defend ago strong and free press that makes our democracy work. i always appreciated gwen's reporting even when i was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews, whether she reported from a convention floor or the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator's table or anchor's desk, she not only informed today's citizens but inspired tomorrow's journalists. she was an especially powerful
3:02 pm
role 3408d for young women and girls who admired her integrity, intelligence and intellect and for which she blazed a trail for one-half of the first female anchor team on network news. gwen did her network service and michelle and i join her family, clears and everyone else who remember her >> woodruff: we're devoting most of tonight's show to gwen and start with this look at her remarkable life. >> ifill: good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and with those words each evening, americans knew they were in good hands. gwen ifill's hands. she was the heart and soul of pbs's newshour and washington week. she was also beloved: sister, aunt, godmother many times over and friends to legions. the daughter of a minister, gwen graduated from simmons college in massachusetts, got her start in journalism at the "boston
3:03 pm
herald american," before moving on to the "baltimore evening sun" in 1981, then to "the washington post," followed by several years as a politics reporter and white house correspondent for the "new york times." >> even marginal progress could be affected in investigations in little rock and washington. >> woodruff: she moved to television and nbc news in 1994. then, in october 1999, she came to pbs to host "washington week," the long-running political roundtable and to become senior correspondent on the newshour. >> ifill: the court's 199 turn, how would you prioritize the needs at the border now
3:04 pm
>> woodruff: there, she added to her lengthy and accomplished body of work in 2013 gwen and i were honored to assume the great responsibility, and joy, of co- anchoring this program. good evening. im judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's "pbs newshour." >> woodruff: on this, the first night of the new pbs newshour, we have a lot of news for you. >> ifill: we also have a new look, but judy and i will be bringing you the news and analysis you have come to trust. >> woodruff: and it was that trust, her dedication that was her stock in trade. she was the gold standard in our business; known for a fierce allegiance and loyalty to her family, friends, and colleagues, but also to the facts. her range was limitless. here are some highlights. >> how do we as a nation help
3:05 pm
with race conflict and our inability to see each other. let me turn this on its head because when we talk about race in this country we always. talk about african-americans people of color. we will talk about white people. why don't you mention donald trump by name? >> you know, he seems to do a good job mentioning his own name. i think i'll let him do his advertising. suzana flores the owner is a legal resident who tried unsuccessfully to teach me how to make tortillas. susanna's sister rosina sandoval who works as a waitress is not here legally she could easily be deported. >> woodruff: gwen is in des moines for iowa's state fair. >> ifill: this weekend the political yin and yang of a crowded field all descended on iowa at once and brought it into especially sharp focus.
3:06 pm
>> and people are growing 6extremely unhappy with establishment politics, with establishment economics and you know what else? even with establishment media! >> ifill: no! >> is that seems to be the most persuasive argument, david, that republicans in this room have. can you see a scenario right now in which he would step back from the border at all in twhait you can trust? >> well, i think you've asked exactly the right question, as you often do, gwen. >> this is gill, has our in depth report. >> even marginal progress could be affected by investigations in little rock and washington, involving the president, first lady and political supporters. ♪ we are not afraid > 50 years later though if king were able to stand in that spot look out what is the legacy of
3:07 pm
that day that some people say they have a black president everything is much better than some people saying have so much farther to go. >> woodruff: gwen raised questions others wouldn't, or that wouldn't even occur to them. here's one example, from the vice presidential debate she moderated in 2004. >> ifill: i want to talk to you about aids, and not about aids in china or africa, but aids right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their counterparts. what should the government's role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic? >> woodruff: four years later, she sat down with another set of candidates. >> ifill: welcome to the first and the only 2008 vice presidential debate. >> woodruff: throughout that 2008 campaign, gwen was not only reporting for the newshour and washington week, she was writing about that moment in history. as the nation's first african- american president was elected, she marked it with "the
3:08 pm
breakthrough," the story of a new generation of black politicians. but it was not just politics that moved her. >> ifill: now, this is fun. this is the way i always wanted to do the "newshour". have a little fun. ♪ >> i woke up one day >> i woke up one day and the whole world was singing "banana boat." and i didnt really understand how powerful i was until i stood before an audience of 50,000 japanese trying to sing "day-o." and i was like, yes, i have arrived. >> ifill: well, i would say you have managed over the years to sing your song. >> woodruff: gwen's spirit, nourished by her connection to her church, was on full display when she sat down with aretha franklin just one year ago tomorrow. >> ifill: so, is part of you, you know, always going to be reverend c.l. franklin's daughter? >> absolutely. >> ifill: i'm a preacher's kid, too, so i... >> i knew you were, ok. >> ifill: but i-- i am a preacher's kid, but i don't sing quite like you.
3:09 pm
>> oh, well, we don't all sing. >> ifill: we have other gifts. >> yes, you have other gifts. >> woodruff: indeed she did. one of her last stories was about the new national museum of african american history and culture. >> ifill: this is an amazing place, chocked full of the expected and >> woodruff: recently, gwen talked about her love for the newshour and what it means in today's world: >> ifill: we occupy a role that we know they appreciate. they tell us this, and it's not too much to tell them back how much we love them back. there is -- the world is split into a million different ways of consuming your information. a lot of young people say i get my profession from "the daily show" or some say i only read what i see on my phone browser, but we have a dedicated comirktsd audience who want to know more and want us to dig
3:10 pm
deeper. so if they didn't support our work, we don't >> sreenivasan: gwen touched many lives and there has been a tremenodus outpouring of rememberances today. attorney general loretta lynch had this to say. >> gwen ifill was a pioneering figure in american journalism who quite literally changed the face of the evening news. she met discrimination and bigotry with talent and focus, rising to become one of the most prominent journalists of her generation. she pursued reporting with grace, intelligence and integrity, earning her the trust of countless americans who counted on her to present the facts of the story without slant or spin. she asked tough questions and told hard truths, but she always did so in a way that elevated rather than coarsened our national discourse. our country is a better place because of her commitment to the truth, and she will be sorely missed both on the air and off.
3:11 pm
>> woodruff: we're joined now by some who knew gwen well. charlayne hunter-gault, a colleague and friend of gwen's, and a longtime member of our newshour family. john dickerson of cbs news, also a regular panelist and occasional host for "washington week." kevin merida, a longtime colleague and now with the wesbite, "espn's undfeated." and amy walter, also of our newshour and washington week families. she's with the "cook political report." this is a tough night for all of us. i know you each have so much you want to say about gwen. i'm going to start with you, kevin merida, because i think you've known gwen the longest. tell us about meeting her. >> it was incredible. i was editor of a black student newspaper at boston university and we did a piece on gwen because here she was this
3:12 pm
hot-shot journalist right out of college that got hired by the boston herald american, and for many young black journalists or aspiring black journalists, we didn't know many people like gwen, and, so, she felt late bit like a unicorn then. so we became friends after that. burr that was my first introduction to her. she was a wonderful friend, obviously, and inspired many of us throughout our careers. >> sreenivasan: john dickerson, you met gwen on the campaign trail covering politics and then became friends. >> yeah, all i have been thinking about today is her smievment you could read by the light of gwen's smile. it felt sort of like it greeted you before she did, and she was a tough, great journalist. in the company of other journalists, her question was the one that kind of cut through the fog and sometimes was a little impolitic, but the thing i remember first is just what
3:13 pm
great and warm person she was and how whatever mood you were in before you were with gwen, you left it with joy in your heart. and in washington, there is not a lot of that. >> that's for sure. charlayne hunter-gault, you were obviously a regular right here on the "newshour" for many, many years, and you've known gwen for a long time. >> i've known gwen for a long time, but i had left to go to africa to live and work by the time gwen got to the "newshour". and what's so amazing is that, you know, she's of a generation younger than mine, but i as an older generation journalist used to look back on gwen for inspiration because, as everybody has just said, i mean, she knew how to cut through the you know what, and, yet, she maintained such an air of professionalism. she didn't put people off. she welcomed them into her space but, at the same time, when she got to the "newshour", she was already doing what we believed in, and that was to present news
3:14 pm
that could be used by people so that, if they got good information, they would make the right decisions about how to live as a good citizen in a democratic nation. >> sreenivasan: amy walter, you've done so many politic mondays, but what is this about her skill, the ability to cut through the -- >> that's what i was trying to remember. it's honestly hard sitting at this desk and not having her across from me. her love for politics and the process of it is what i've always admired about her. she wanted to do the stuff that a lot of journalists didn't want to get to, right, because it's a a lot easier staying ton surface, it's a lot easier going for shiny objects and she really wanted to get into it, what does it mean, how did we get here, which is why it's such an honor for me to work with her
3:15 pm
and on the show so every time i got on i felt better and smarter for that. she created a family around her of all these people, and i felt like we were a little menagerie that she put together all these incredible people and took care of all of them. >> woodruff: kevin merida, you talked about meeting gwen early on, i think you said a unicorn, how rare to see an african-american journalist succeeding as early as she did. she told me the story and i assume she told you about the first time at the boston newspaper, what happened to her. do you remember that story? >> you know, i remember there were some -- i don't remember the specifics, but she was in boston, we were both in boston the same time. it was a really racially tense city. i had been an intern at the "boston globe," and anybody who worked in the boston newspaper in that day and you were
3:16 pm
african-american, many times you felt you were under this racial -- almost racial terror times, and it was really difficult to do the job. the fact that she was able to be in the news room, reporting in boston at that time, was extraordinary in and of itself, and i think she was always one that, in each level of her career, there was never obstacles that she was going to allow to block her, and that kind of professionalism and the ability to wear success well was awfully inspiring, as we both watched each generation, you know, new, young journalists come up and look toward her for that model. >> woodruff: charlayne. judy, i remember the incident, because i was speaking at one of the many awards ceremonies gwen was being honored, and i looked it up andd a co-worker wrote to her,
3:17 pm
n-word, go home. and she had to survive that and prosper and not pay a lot of attention to it. at the same time, let me very quickly say that, while you and gwen were noted for becoming the first two women to anchor a news program, you know, gwen identified as a woman. she identified as an african-american, and she identified as a human being, so she brought all of those things to bear in becoming one of the many consciences of the news business and the "newshour". i mean, she championed my series, race matters, looking to solutioning to racism. she used to send me little notes encouraging me. so she could be all of those things and still reach out in a universal way to people, regardless of race, creed, color or national origin. >> sreenivasan: john dickerson, she had a reputation to be tough on the field as well as debates she's moderator.
3:18 pm
even the president pointed out she was tough but fair. >> yes, that was her reputation. you know, even with journalists -- you know, there is a thing that happens sometimes when journalists get together and everybody find kind of gallons along saying the same thing, believing in the same thing and gwen would often kind of say, now, wait a minute, and it was kind of pointed and that was because she was always questioning what was going on. when you prepare for "washington week" and the conversation before the show, you could always expect that whatever fancy thing you had polished up and thought was so brilliant, that she would, you know, puncture it and not in a mean way, but she wasn't going to let you just get by with something that sounded good and maybe had a couple of clever phrases in it. on the other hand, if you could get her to laugh and hear her to laugh, that was a special joy. it wasn't a chuckle.
3:19 pm
it was a laugh to be remembered and fill an entire room. >> woodruff: and with an office right next to hers, john, that is what i guarantee you i am going to miss the most. walter -- amy walter, talk about how she loved politics and wasn't satisfied with the surface. she was always on a quest to get more and do it in a way that was joyful. >> and that, i think sometimes we in the political press get so cynical about the same candidates, promises and elections year after year. but she always not only enjoyed covering it and had a responsibility covering it, but also believed we could make it better and be smarter about this and that we didn't just have to live with whatever wufs was put on the table by others. and going on john's point, she did not suffer fools. >> woodruff: no, she did not.
3:20 pm
e have been caught in the gwen look -- >> woodruff: all of us have experienced this. >> -- the gwen look, but it's because she truly believed in the process itself that she could cover it so well. you don't have to believe that everything is going to work out perfectly in covering politics, but you have to believe that the process the important, and she did. >> sreenivasan: kevin merida, one of the things you pointed out before for young journalists of color coming up at the time and even today, she has been a role model throughout her professional life. >> she always made time for people. she was never too big. you know, achievement never got away from her. she understood what people went through, and she was very helpful in letting other young journalists know her story, and she brought people together. i mean, many of the panelists know that she had a really
3:21 pm
well-received open house every new year's day. i woched over the years how that open house got bigger and bigge because she let more people into the circle because she thought it was whether or not to bring people together, and that was one of the ways, among many others, she did that. >> woodruff: charlayne hunter-gault, talk a little bit about what she meant to journalists of color, to people of color. i would be with her walking down the street or in a restaurant or at an airport, and i would see the immediate connected that she had with all people, but -- of course, because she had fans across all the spectrums. but there was a connection for her in the african-american community that was really remarkable. >> well, absolutely, and i remember when i spoke at the national press club when she was
3:22 pm
honored there with her highest award, i talked about how she reminded me a little bit of viola davis because, when she went through, there weren't a whole lot of women even then when she began to achieve national recognition and status, and she would look across that line like viola davis said and reach out to bring others in. so she inspired those she met, but she also inspired those just by her appearance and by her competence and her extraordinary capacity to do all the things that you've heard all her colleagues, old and new, talk about. the other thing about gwen was they say that she could give you a look, and that was true. but she was not full of herself. the last time, and i'm so glad i had this moment with her on martha's vineyard this past summer with michelle norris, the npr correspondent. the three of us were at dinner, and she just sat back and let us
3:23 pm
i amer and talk and chat, and we would say something and she would say, oh, i didn't know that. and she would pick up a pen to write it down to remind herself to look at that. and we started talking about something else and she went right on her phone and said, no, that's not right, it was such and such a thing. but she was humble even though she presented this very strong and powerful person. so i think what young african-american people saw in her was what they could be, and it was a wonderful -- and i could see what i could be, even being older than she. so i'm saying she appealed to all the generationings in a most -- generations in a most wonderful way. >way. >> sreenivasan: john dickerson, she seemed to be willing to continue learning. she didn't take the twitter quickly but when she got in, she was in and let the world know about it. >> she had to have some way to
3:24 pm
have talk about "hamilton" and every song she knew. talk about a woman who did not throw away her shot. she was an enthusiast, you know. she was an enthusiast about twitter, although skeptical at first, you know, because, in part, i think she probably thought it was just a place for people to just toss off opinions that might not be considered. but then, when she took to it with her normal enthusiasm, and that enthusiasm, as we said, often was in the form of either glory to "hamilton" or lyrics from it, it was a perfect venue for her enthusiasm to come through, and that's what i think about all today was her enthusiasm in all its different forms and certainly in the new world of social media was there, too. >> kevin merida, i want to come back to you on, you know, all of us live through journalism changing rapidly. twitter is a part of that.
3:25 pm
how did you see gwen adapting as journalism changed right in front of all our eyes? >> well, she grasped it like everything. it was a challenge and something interesting for her. and i would see some times i would tweet something and she would come back with an even pithier reply. we were talking about the debates and i was an advocate for her that she should have been in one of the presidential election debates as a moderator and i remember writing that early on, and she said, i love you, kevin merida, you know. >> it was just a little funny, you know, rejoinder, but i think that she was so accomplished and so well regard bid so many other people, but for her, she always wanted to keep learning and getting better. as charlayne and others said, she was willing to learn from
3:26 pm
others. she just soaked up the passion in her for lodge nog was just -- for -- in her for knowledge was amazing. >> she was the rare competitor in washington who wasn't moving ahead by putting someone else down. if she was going to get the moderator job or the big interview, she was going to get it by the work she did new york city because she made somebody else feel bad or pushed them down in any way. that, especially in this town, is a remarkable -- first of all, it's been a remarkable gift for so many of us, but it's not something you see very often. >> incredibly classy. >> woodruff: i would say in our final minute with you and amy walter and john dickerson, i know covering this one of a kind presidential campaign, that was hard for her not to miss it. >> i spent a lot of election
3:27 pm
nights with gwen ifill. >> judy, can i just say one final thing? >> woodruff: 15 seconds. sure. >> i hope i don't cry, but i saw her on the air one night, and she looked so amazing, and at 10:00 at night, i couldn't help but write to her, and that's when she wrote me back and told me what she had been going through, and i think that's another thing that we should absolutely think so highly of her because she worked through all of her illness without letting on to anyone about what was going on. the "newshour" would say she was away and everybody thought she was away working, and she was suffering mightily, and she bore it with such grace. >> thank you, charlayne. >> woodruff: thank you, charlayne. absolutely. she was a pillar of strength for everyone out there and for us at the "newshour". charlayne hunter-gault, kevin merida, john dickerson, amy walter, we thank you all. >> thank you.
3:28 pm
>> sreenivasan: now, more remembrances of gwen, from rick berke, executive editor at stat news, and worked with gwen at the "baltimore evening sun" in the 1980s. pete williams is justice correspondent for nbc news, where gwen used to cover congress and politics. karen tumulty is national political correspondent for the "washington post." she and gwen covered the jesse jackson presidential campaign together in 1988. and reverend william lamar iv is pastor of the metropolitan african methodist episcopal church in washington. he has known the ifill family going back decades. and yamiche alcindor of the "new york times." gwen was a mentor to her. pastor lamar, i want to start with you. you knew gwen in a way none of us at the table did.
3:29 pm
besides church every weekend, coming up through the church, the ifill name meant something. >> indeed. gwen's farther was the secretary general of our denomination. so all initial denomination literature and statistical reports carried his name. so i don't remember a time not seeing or knowing the ifill name. as i came through the ranks of ordained ministry, her brother is a tremendous voice and leader in our denomination. so when i had the privilege of pastoring her, i knew her pedigree and ancestry. >> sreenivasan: she was a woman of deep faith. >> she was there every week, generous, a mentor, and little girls could come, hug her and she would share and was a great gift to our community. >> woodruff: rick burke, you knew gwen going back to the
3:30 pm
1980s as a young reporter. tell us a little bit about that. >> gwen and i covered city hall together 35 years ago at the baltimore evening sun, then years later we covered the white house together at the "new york times." so we've covered a lot of politicians together, and she had them quaking in their boots. she would look at them, and they would be indim tatted from mayors -- intimidated from mayors to presidents. it's because she was whip smart, knew what to ask and was relentless, but she would always come back with a big smile that would just melt everyone. so she was tough, but she was accessible, and she always knew what she was talking about. she would be able to synthesize the news in a way no one else i've ever seen was able to. >> sreenivasan: williams, what about your time at nbc news? >> not just a great person of faith but she loved to sing. she was a great singer at church and everything else.
3:31 pm
i was at nbc when she came. she made the transition quickly from print journalism to television. today i looked at one of her first appearances on nbc in 1994. it takes a while to get the odd little things the way we put stories together, but she had that spark and smile. there was a lot more hair then, but that spark that drove washington week, that made politics interesting but fun. you wanted to pay attention because you felt you had learned something in a pleasant way and she had that even then. >> karen tumilty, you carried the jesse jackson campaign in 1988. what was that like? two women covering from different news organizations. >> months on end trapped in airplanes and buses. it's extraordinary. i think rick would agree that, even in those 30 years ago, there was a presence to gwen
3:32 pm
that you would very much recognize in gwen today. she was grounded, she understood that she was thereooking for the facts and looking for the truth, and i do think, though, when she did make that transition to television, one of the reasons that she was so successful at it was that i just always felt like her honesty just came right through that. >> i think a lot of journalists look for answers about themselves but i think gwen knew who she was, and that is something that always came through. i am from wyoming and i was at a hardware store in jackson, wyoming, a couple of summers ago and the man who checked me out said, boy, you must really be special that gwen ifill would have you on. i said you are big in ace hardware in jackson, wyoming. >> woodruff: we all have stories like. >> this i was at a presidential debate walking through the
3:33 pm
casino in los angeles and the pit boss goes, gwen ifill! >> you talk about a transition to television, she was resistant for months if not years to go from the "new york times" to television because she would always say i am a journalist. i am a journalist. tv, forgive me, in her mind wasn't always journalism. but she's the one who carried over the tradition of fine reporting and not puntedry. don't ever call her a punted. she would shrink from that. she wanted to talk about the news and people at "washington week" would talk about stories. >> because they were actually covering them. >> sreenivasan: yamiche, how did you meet her? how did she mentor you? >> i met gwen ifill under a hair drier. we had the same hair dresser and i was telling my hair dresser so much stuff about wanting to be
3:34 pm
journalist and she said you should really meet gwen ifill and one of her good friends a adalia. i made friends with them and they mentored me and welcomed me into what i learned later was a circle of black women in news and living in d.c. at the time because i went to georgetown. she spoke at my graduation and that was the first time i remember thinking, works i could really do this journalism thing. it was 2009. i didn't know if i was going to be able to have a job. so be able to see her and besteaded by her voice as i was walking across the stage meant something. one of the first memories of us actually talking, i told her, hi, my nam my name is yamiche, y nickname is miche. she said, well, do you really
3:35 pm
like people calling you nicknames? be an honest journalist, know what you want people to call you and believe in that. for my entire creek, which hasn't been that long, she really has been someone -- not just someone i could admire but someone on "meet the press" interviews. i would say, i'm going to be on this show, what do i do? she said, you know what to do, you know the information. so to have someone of that caliber to want to give back to you showed me not only was she someone i wanted to imitate but she taught me to bring other journalists younger than me up. even in my busiest days i remember she took the time out to talk to me so i take the time to talk to other people. i am devastated to hear of her loss because we're not just losing a journalist we're losing a mentor.
3:36 pm
>> pastor, you talked ability gwen mentoring younger women at the church. how did those connections work? >> i think it's important to say, judy, that gwen comes from a long line of women who had great dignity and great grace in the midst of turmoil and tumultuous situations that would shrink the average human being. so she comes from barbados with the west indies, and there's a great tradition of excellence, of making sure that you make your presence known and your gifts are used. so coming from barbados, being a part of the african-american methodist episcopal church which has been an incubator of excellence for persons of african descent, what i appreciated about gwen is as she rose in stature and prominence, she did not abandon b the institutions that shaped and created her. she strengthened the church by her presence and her participation when she was able
3:37 pm
to, taking the battleground when necessary, offering financial gifts, mentorship, always a smile, and i just think she was incredibly fraysful, incredibly stern and just a joy to be around. we talked about books, we talked about food, we talked about travel, and she could expose all that she had done and the persons that she knew in a way that was not offputting. >> she often talked about being a p.k., preacher's kid. >> yes, and many preacher's kids do not turn out to be the most well adjusted (laughter) many abandoned the church because it can be a very painful existence for children. and gwen's love of the church and her faith was not something that was cordoned off in a personal kind of piety kind of situation, but it moved her into the world the make her world a better place, a more truthful place, and what i am amazed about is the number of deep personal relationships she was able to maintain. the persons who have been
3:38 pm
gathering today as she was with us for her last moments, she touched them in deep, deep ways, and i felt that. >> rick burk, one of the things she said about being a preacher's kid, it actually put her into different situations over and over again as she had to move which was traumatic as a young person but she figured out a way to get comfortable in these situations. >> she knew how to make people comfortable and talk truth to people. one of the things i learned about gwen through the last year that's so inspirational to all of us and judy you've seen it close up is her resilience in dealing with health issues but never shrinking for one second from doing the debates and the convention coverage and the toughness and the drive and the energy it takes to do her job was nothing short of inspirational. >> woodruff: only about a minute left, but pete and karen,
3:39 pm
and we heard amy walter say this in the last panel, gwen really wanted to be a part of covering this election and she fought hard. it wasn't meant to be but she mung in as long as she could. >> and how much we would have benefited from her analysis. the thing that strikes me, is you know, a lot of people in washington as they become successful, they shed their old friend and move into upper circles. not gwen. she added to them and just kept adding to them. i pick up on your point there about that. >> woodruff: we are just incredibly grateful to all of you for being here with us on this day that we never wanted to have arrive. yamiche alcindor, thank you. >> sreenivasan: pete williams, karen tumulty, rick burk and pastor lamar. thank you all. >> woodruff: gwen would have wanted us to report the other news of this very full day, too. and that's what we'll do, next. but we'll be back at the end of the program with a conversation gwen had with her dear friend,
3:40 pm
former npr host michele norris. >> woodruff: president-elect donald trump ran into growing criticism today of one of his first transition appointments. on sunday, he named conservative media executive steve bannon as his chief strategist. bannon's been accused of racist and anti-semitic sentiments, and democrats condemned the choice, while the trump team defended it. >> the fact that republicans have been silent on bannon's appointment is a disturbing sign. this shows that the republican party has embraced trumps campaign agenda blatant sexism,
3:41 pm
racial bigotry and religious intolerance. >> i'm personally offended that you'd think i'd manage a campaign where that'd be one of the going philosophies. that was not. and i think 56 million americans or so saw something else. >> woodruff: also today, the president elect spoke by phone with russian president vladimir putin, and told him he looks for a strong and enduring relationship with moscow. meanwhile, protests continued against his election. in east los angeles today, students left class and marched toward city hall to demonstrate. >> sreenivasan: the election and transition dominated president obama's white house news conference today. it lasted well over an hour, and came before he left on his final overseas trip as president. mr. obama said both americans and world leaders need to give his successor time to show what he means to do. >> in my conversation with the president-elect, he expressed a
3:42 pm
great interest in maintaining our four strategic relationships, and, so, one to have the messages i will be able to deliver is his commitment to n.a.t.o. and the transatlantic alliance. i think that's one to have the most important functions i can serve at this stage during this trip is to let them know there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to america's commitment to maintaining a strong and robust n.a.t.o. relationship and a recognition that those alliances aren't just good for europe but they're good for the united states and vital for the world. i have been encouraged by his statements on election night about the need for unity and his interest in being the president for all people and that how he staffs the first steps he takes, the first impressions he takes,
3:43 pm
the reset that can happen after an election, all those things are important and should be thought about, and i think it's important to give him the room and the space to do that. it takes time to put that together. it would not be appropriate for me to comment on every appointment that the president-elect starts making. if i want to be consistent with the notion that we're going to try to facilitate a smooth transition. look, the people have spoken. donald trump will be the next president, the 45th president of the united states, and it will be up to him to set up a team that he thinks will serve him well and reflect his policies. those who didn't vote for him have to recognize that that's how democracy works, regardless
3:44 pm
of what experience or assumptions he brought to the office, this office tha has a wf waking you up, and those aspects of his positions or predispositions that don't match up with reality, he will find shaken up pretty quick because reality has a way of asserting itself. >> mpt-- mr. president, you specifically talked about his temperament. do you still have any concern about his temperament? >> there are going to be certain elements of his temperament that will not serve him well unless he recognizes them and corrects them because, when you're a candidate and you say something
3:45 pm
that is inaccurate or controversial, it has less impact than it does when you're president of the united states. everybody around the world is paying attention, markets move. on the deferred action program we have, for those currently benefiting from these provisions, i will urge the president-elect and incoming administration to think long and hard before they are endangering the status of what, for all practical purposes, are american kids. we will try to share the lessons that we've learned over these last eight years with the incoming president, and my hope is he makes things better, and if he does we'll all benefit
3:46 pm
from it. >> woodruff: in the day's other news >> woodruff: in the day's other news, the contest for chair of the democratic national committee heated up. representative keith ellison of minnesota, the first muslim elected to congress, announced he's running. former vermont governor howard dean is also in the race, and several others may join. >> sreenivasan: congress returned to work today for the first time since the election. chief on the agenda: keeping the government open past december 9, when current funding expires. republicans are expected to push a short-term bill, delaying a comprehensive measure until president-elect trump is inaugurated. in new zealand, the military worked today to rescue some 1,200 people from a town hit hard by an earthquake on sunday. it registered magnitude 7.8 and left tourists and locals stranded in kaikoura on the coast. highways into the town were destroyed by landslides and homes were leveled. the government sent ships and helicopters to rescue those stranded. >> the only way through is flying people in and out, there's quite a number of
3:47 pm
tourists now stuck with international connections, so we'll have to think about that. there's also the longevity of the businesses here, that short term aren't getting a lot of customers, because again, you know, because there's no access points in and out. >> sreenivasan: the quake killed two people, and the prime minister estimated damage in the billions of dollars. >> woodruff: in economic news, the chair of the securities and exchange commission, mary jo white, says she will step down in the coming weeks. she's been in the position nearly four years. and on wall street, the dow jones industrial average gained 21 points to close at 18,868. the nasdaq fell 18 points, and the s&p 500 slipped a quarter of a point. >> sreenivasan: and, the brightest moon in almost 70 years lit up the sky overnight. the so-called "super-moon" appeared much bigger and brighter than usual, as its orbit brought it within 221,000 miles of earth. that's the closest since 1948. it won't happen again for another 18 years.
3:48 pm
>> woodruff: finally, one last look at our unforgettable gwen ifill. gwen was interviewed by her close friend and fellow journalist michele norris for an episode of the pbs series "the history makers" which first aired in january, 2015. we close tonight with an excerpt. when you went to television, we heart from pete williams that you took to it almost immediately. >> ifill: that's so not true. i love pete and it's so sweet he thought at, but it was really hard making the transition from print to television you had to figure out how to write differently, present differently and settle on the right shade of
3:49 pm
lipstick, which was huge. (laughter) turned out everybody had something to say about you when you're in front of the television. but the other thing is you get your phone calls returned. people felt they nye knew you. the accessibility quotient came to work and you reached a much broader audience. so i was going to the publisher at the time telling him i was thinking of leaving to go to work for nbc and he said why would you go to work in television? i don't watch television. (laughter) well, that's changed. but i wanted to make sure another important lesson for the children, i didn't burn bridges, i made sure in case i failed in television, i could go back to print. and i didn't fail for the same reasons why you don't fail. you work hard. it's not how you get in the door, it's what you do once you get through the door and make sure you make friends and learn to learn from the people.
3:50 pm
>> everywhere i would go in television i would find camera crews that loved gwen ifill, that you remembered that it was a team that got you there. >> i would start with the camera crews, too, to this day. >> you covered a lot of conventions. >> ifill: yes. you said covering conventions is actually one of your favorite parts of covering politics. >> ifill: yeah. what do you like about conventions. >> ifill: i think conventions matter. i like the roomful of people enthusiastic about the process. i think it's important we hear from the future leaders of the party. i was standing on the podium in 2004 when the keynote speaker finished speaking and when barack obama walked over to me with the, you know, place was crazy and the confetti was flying and balloons, and electricity, you will remember that night, and i asked him how he thought he did and he said, ah, i think i did okay. i found out later michelle said
3:51 pm
to him in advance, just don't screw up. you know what? he didn't. and i was great to be there in that moment and at that time and to talk to him about it and to capture the sparkle that came off him as he was bursting on to the scene. >> your father said you as a kid used to watch conventions. >> ifill: don't believe everything my brother said, but that's right. >> he did. >> ifill: we watched conventions kind of for recreation. this was an extension of what my parents thought in american politics and government mattered. and keep in mind when we were growing up watching conventions, we didn't know how they would end. imagine watching a convention when barbara jordan gets up and speaks and you're a little black girl at home who sees nothing like this on television, it blows your mind. where else was i going to hear that voice and seer? when i go through the austin airport, i pat her.
3:52 pm
there's a bronze sculpture of her in the austin airport and i greet her every time. she was amazing. shirley chisholm. black women were out there speaking their truth in an environment where it generally wasn't welcomed. >> as i listen to you talking about this, though, i'm imagining children watching television now and seeing you. >> ifill: okay. when i was a little girl, there was a woman named melba toliver who was on the news and she had a big afro and i was trance fix -- transfixed by this idea that i wanted to tell story. every now an and then -- you kn, i get caught up in whatever the day's work is and invariably someone whether come up and tell me the story of their little girl and stops me in my tracks. as long as i remember there is someoneon the other side of the piece of equipment, the camera
3:53 pm
watching me with expectation and it can shape what they do next, i just take what i do seriously every single day. >> sreenivasan: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm hari sreenivasan. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. for all of us at the pbs newshour-- gwen, we love you and we'll miss you, and we know all of you in our audience will too. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
3:54 pm
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
3:55 pm
♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> we can like many, but we can love only a precious few, because it is for those precious few that you have to be willing to do so very much. you don't have to do it alone. lincoln financial helps you provide for and protect your financial future because this is what you do for people you love. lincoln financial-- you're in charge. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better
3:56 pm
lives. >> supported by the rockefeller foundation. promoting the well-being of humanity around the world by building resilience and inclusive economies. more at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions
3:57 pm
3:58 pm
3:59 pm
♪ >> this is "bbc world news america." funding of this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation, newman's own foundation, giving all profits from newman's own to charity and pursuing the common good, kovler foundation, pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs, and aruba tourism authority. >> planning a vacation escape that is relaxing, inviting, and exciting is a lot easier than you think. you can find it here, in aruba. families, couples, and friends can all find their escape on the island with warm sunny days,