The ombudsman for PBS on Thursday chastised journalist Gwen Ifill for mocking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Twitter. After it became clear that the Senate could not override a presidential veto of the Iran deal, Ifill tweeted, "Take that, Bibi."
PBS Ombudsman Michael Gelter slammed the comments by the NewsHour anchor as "inexcusable for an experienced journalist who is the co-anchor of a nightly news program watched by millions of people over the course of any week."
I asked Ifill and the NewsHour for a response and explanation. She explained, in an email to me and in a tweet to many others, that she was “RT'ing a @TheIranDeal tweet,” and added that she “should have been clearer that it was their argument, not mine.”
Ifill is a highly experienced journalist, very quick, alert, knowledgeable, and with an engaging on-air personality. She also has a talented eye for the ironies and political turnabouts in the daily flow of news that contributes to her presence. But PBS and the NewsHour are bigger than any individual and tweeting does not appear to be a tool, in these cases, that is appropriate for maintaining credibility, which is the bedrock for news organizations.
Ifill has yet to offer a full apology. On Wednesday, she sounded defiant, "Every now and then, you inadvertently poke twitter in the eye. And it never disappoints."
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