Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Vision: Public Intermediary

BOND: I read something that in the research we did for this and Business Officer in ’09, this year, that you said your vision for your career is to be an intermediary for the public. What do you mean by that?

IFILL: Did I say that? I like that.

BOND: Yes, you said that.

IFILL: It means — it means — it’s a version of what we were talking about which is, I’m not there because I’m there. I’m not confused about why I get to be in the interview with the President. I’m not — he’s not talking to me because I’m Gwen. He’s talking to me because he’s speaking to someone over my shoulder and that’s the reason why I’m there, so my responsibility is not just to say, “Well, you know, I was wondering what you ate last night because I was curious.” Who cares? That might be my curiosity but I’m not speaking for anybody. So my responsibility, and that’s why I get the chance to be in these chairs, is to try to do that.

You know, on Washington Week, our responsibility is not just to say, “You know, there was a guy who yelled at the president on the floor of the House,” but to go beneath that and say, “What was driving that? Who was that? What effect did it actually have on the substance of the matter at hand? And what was the substance of his complaint?” That is not just my curiosity, because I can be as shallow as anybody when it comes to curiosity. It’s a question of that I have a responsibility to speak for somebody else.