Jim Lehrer

Jim Lehrer (1934-2020) died yesterday. Last night’s PBS NewsHour featured a 15-minute remembrance of Lehrer plus a 15-minute closing segment moderated by Judy Woodruff with Robert MacNeil, Sharon Percy Rockefeller and U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.

In 2011, Lehrer retired after 36 years as anchor of the PBS evening news program that went through several name changes. He moderated a vice-presidential debate and 11 presidential debates, the most of any journalist.

As a 30-year-old Dallas newspaper journalist, he covered the assassination of John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) and then moved to the Dallas public TV station. He pioneered local public TV news in Dallas and then nationally in Washington. I was among many US viewers introduced to Lehrer and MacNeil during their marathon coverage of the Watergate hearings.

Lehrer was an “old school” journalist who, insofar as possible, left his opinions at the studio door. He sought to be objective. His obituary headlines described him as “low key.” His goal always was to “not get in the way” of the news and the people he covered. He did it well.

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