National Press Club

PBS Newshour co-anchors promise exhaustive, illuminating political convention coverage

July 25, 2012 | By Terry Hill |

PBS Newshour anchors Gwen Ifill (l) and Judy Woodruff

PBS Newshour anchors Gwen Ifill (l) and Judy Woodruff

Photo/Image: Al Teich

PBS Newshour co-anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff promised the show’s viewers greater in-depth coverage of the political conventions this year than they have ever seen.

“We believe the architecture of democracy matters,” Ifill told a National Press Club luncheon audience on July 24, expressing the philosophy that suffuses the show's award-winning coverage and serves as the foundation for its plans to cover the conventions exhaustively.

Those inside the convention halls, she said, are the most politically informed and engaged people in America. But the people Newshour will also devote a major share of time covering will be those on the outside, the people who decide the nation’s elections.

“We’re going to bring in the smartest people we know and we’re going to try during the conventions to talk to voters about what they really want to hear from the conventions,” Ifill said.

Describing herself as a complete political junkie, she said that the convention delegates are not only the most engaged attendees but also the most interesting.

“They’re not just the ‘party hats,’ the secret fundraisers; they’re also folks who really care about (politics) and give up their time to be engaged," Ifill said. "We want to talk to them. We want to find out what’s driving them.”

Woodruff, covering her 10th presidential election, predicted the 2012 race will result in a very close vote. Citing a number of cross-currents and conditions that will affect the final tally, she ticked off a slate of key points ranging from the candidates’ personalities to unemployment to the impact of undecided voters.

“I think the country is as divided as we’ve ever seen it," Woodruff said. "Washington is as dysfunctional as I’ve ever seen it.”

However, American politics has always had a nasty side, she said, citing previous negative campaign ads from both parties.

“I think it’s pretty tame compared to what we’ve seen in the past,” Woodruff said.

Asked if there’s too much money in American politics, Woodruff noted the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited campaign spending. There appears to be no way to reverse the trend, she said.