Ifill Apologizes for Saying 'Tea Baggers': I Didn't Know It Meant That

PBS's Gwen Ifill has apologized for using the sexually-charged derogatory term "Tea Baggers" during last Wednesday's broadcast of "The NewsHour."

According to the PBS ombudsman, responding to an e-mail message from a NewsBusters reader, Ifill didn't know what it meant.

Apparently, she's just as clueless about current events as ABC's Charlie Gibson.

Before we get there, here's what Ifill said last week on a television station funded with your tax dollars:

So whether it`s Jeremiah Wright or Henry Louis Gates, Jr., or what Jimmy Carter said about this, the Tea Baggers or whoever, it`s always going to be with us?

On Friday, PBS.com published the following (h/t NBer Robert Holmgren):

About Those 'Teabaggers'

Do you care to comment about Gwen Ifill's use of the word 'teabaggers' to describe some of president Obama's critics on a segment discussing racism charges on the 9/16/09 NewsHour program. You are aware of what that means?

Since racism charges were directed at President [Bill] and Hillary Clinton during the campaign, as well as media questions such as Time magazine's questioning whether Obama was black enough, fixing a narrow focus on this type of charge seems short sighted. Was it also necessary for a black host to have a panel of comprised of three other blacks and one white? Does the NewsHour have a diversity problem?

Robert Holmgren, Menlo Park, CA

(Ombudsman's Note: Ifill says, "Turns out I am the only person with access to email who never knew this was a term with a sexual meaning. I used it in an offhand manner as a shorthand referring to the 'tea party' movement. It was a slip I was unaware of, and I regret it." I would add that I didn't know that either.)

Hmmm. High-profile media members, from a multitude of news outlets, began disgracefully referring to Tea Party goers in this fashion many months ago, and this is the FIRST TIME Ifill has actually heard what it meant?

Is this REALLY the kind of media elite now responsible for disseminating information to the public?

On the flipside, if she's telling the truth, we shouldn't be at all surprised. After all, just days earlier ABC's Charlie Gibson claimed he had no knowledge of the controversy surrounding ACORN representatives giving business advice to a pimp and a prostitute.

It sure is good to know just how out of touch some of America's top news anchors are. 

Gwen Ifill
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