Gwen Ifill Is Not A Terribly Convincing Liar
Ifill responded to Wemple's questions by claiming she isn't being paid, she wasn't going to honor Sebelius, and she accepted without knowing of the honor. She was just going to say "welcome," announce some anodyne agenda items, and "announce dessert." The Whitman-Walker Clinic is "just using me as a draw." That's still using her name (and PBS cachet) to raise money for gay-left lobbying, legal services, and health services.
Washington Week and the NewsHour, of course, cover the Obama administration as a matter of routine. Sebelius has been at the center of some controversial initiatives. We don’t want Ifill honoring someone she’s supposed to be auditing.And she’s not, she says. In an interview this morning, Ifill said that she agreed to do the emceeing before she even knew who would be the honoree. She’s doing the event for charity and isn’t collecting a penny for her appearance. The task assigned to her is a mashup of logistics and ceremoniality: According to Whitman-Walker communications director Chip Lewis, Ifill opens the program and says “welcome”; introduces co-chairs; she announces a grant program for the clinic; and she announces dessert.
What she doesn’t do, she attests, is introduce or endorse the honoree, Sebelius. That falls to someone else on the program. “It sounds like I’m honoring her,” says Ifill of the invitation, when in fact the clinic is just “using me as a draw. There’s a difference between what the invite says and what happens on that stage tonight.”
Though unaware that she was signing up for a Sebelius-honoring event, Ifill notes that she didn’t raise a ruckus when she found out who the honoree would be. “I really do try to do the arm’s-length thing,” says Ifill.