James Charles "Jim" Lehrer (/ˈlɛərər/; born May 19, 1934) is an American journalist and a novelist.
Lehrer is the former Executive Editor and a former News Anchor for the PBS NewsHour on PBS, and is known for his role as a Debate Moderator in U.S. Presidential Election campaigns. He is an author of numerous fiction and non-fiction books that draw upon his experience as a newsman, along with his interests in history and politics.
Lehrer at the 2007 Texas Book Festival
James Charles Lehrer
May 19, 1934
Wichita, Kansas, U.S.
|Residence||Washington, D.C., U.S.|
|Education||Victoria College (Texas)|
University of Missouri
|Occupation||Journalist, news anchor, author|
The Dallas Morning News
The Dallas Times Herald
|Spouse(s)||Kate Lehrer (m. 1960)|
|Service/||United States Marine Corps|
Lehrer was born in Wichita, Kansas—the son of Lois Catherine (née Chapman), a bank clerk; and Harry Frederick Lehrer, a bus station manager. He attended middle school in Beaumont, Texas, and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School (San Antonio, TX) where he was a sports editor for the Jefferson Declaration. He graduated with an A.A. from Victoria College in Texas, and a B.J. from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri in 1956.
After graduation from college, Lehrer joined the United States Marine Corps and attributes his service and travels with helping him to look past himself and feel a connection to the world that he would not have otherwise experienced.
In 1959, Lehrer began his career in journalism at The Dallas Morning News in Texas. Later, he worked as a Reporter for the Dallas Times-Herald, where he covered the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. There, he was a Political Columnist for several years, and in 1968 he became the City Editor.
Lehrer began his television career at KERA-TV in Dallas, Texas, as the Executive Director of Public Affairs, an On-air Host, and Editor of a nightly news program. He moved to PBS in Washington, D.C., to become the Public Affairs Coordinator, a member of Journalism Advisory Board, and a Fellow at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). He worked as a Correspondent for the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT) where he met Robert MacNeil. In 1973, they covered the Senate Watergate hearings and the revelation of the Watergate Tapes broadcast, live on PBS. Lehrer covered the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry of President Richard Nixon.
In October 1975, Lehrer became the Washington Correspondent for the "Robert MacNeil Report" on Thirteen/WNET New York. Two months later on December 1, 1975, he was promoted to co-anchor, and the program was accordingly renamed "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report". In September 1983, Lehrer and MacNeil relaunched their show as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour which, after MacNeil's departure in 1995, was renamed The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and in 2009 became the PBS NewsHour.
On June 6, 2011, Lehrer stepped down as anchor of the PBS NewsHour; however, he continued to moderate the Friday news analysis segments, and continued to be involved with the show's production company, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.
Lehrer's has received several awards and honors throughout his career in journalism, including several Emmys; the George Foster Peabody Broadcast Award; a William Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit; and the University of Missouri School of Journalism's Medal of Honor. In 2004, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Journalism degree by McDaniel College.
Lehrer has been involved in several U.S. Presidential Debate-related projects, including the Debating Our Destiny Documentaries in 2000 and 2008, that feature excerpts of exclusive interviews with many of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates since 1976. Nicknamed The Dean of Moderators by Bernard Shaw, formerly of CNN, Lehrer has moderated 12 Presidential Debates.
Lehrer hosted the first U.S. Presidential Debate for the 2012 U.S. Presidential general election. He originally had sworn off moderating any debates after 2008; however, the Commission on Presidential Debates persisted, and he accepted as he was interested in the new format. The debate was held at the University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, and covered domestic policy issues. Coming out of semi-retirement to moderate his 12th Presidential Debate, while he was criticized on social media and in the press for his lack of control and open-ended questions, he was praised for letting the candidates have some control in the debate on their own terms.
Lehrer is married to Kate Lehrer, a novelist. They have three daughters and six grandchildren. His father was a bus driver, who briefly operated a bus company. Lehrer is an avid bus enthusiast, a hobbyist, and a collector of bus memorabilia—including depot signs, driver caps, and antique toy buses. As a college student in the 1950s, he worked as a Trailways Ticket Agent in Victoria, Texas. He is a supporter of the Pacific Bus Museum in Williams, California, and the Museum of Bus Transportation in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Lehrer is a prolific writer and has authored numerous novels, as well as having penned several plays, screenplays, and three personal memoirs. His book, Top Down, is a novel based on the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination. His most recent play, Bell, was produced by the National Geographic Society as part of their 125th anniversary celebration.
Novels (One-Eyed Mack Series)
Novels (Charlie Henderson Series)
| NewsHour/PBS NewsHour anchor
Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff
|Notes and references|
|1. Lehrer co-anchored with MacNeil from 1975 to 1995.|
|Music and fine arts|
|News and public affairs|
|How-to and special interest|
|Science and nature|
Television Hall of Fame Class of 1999