Jim Lehrer

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Jim Lehrer
Jim lehrer 2007.jpg
Lehrer at the 2007 Texas Book Festival
Born James Charles Lehrer
(1934-05-19) May 19, 1934 (age 86)
Wichita, Kansas, United States
Residence Washington, DC, U.S.
Education Victoria College (Texas)
University of Missouri
Occupation Journalist, news anchor, author
Notable credit(s) PBS NewsHour
The Dallas Morning News
The Dallas Times Herald
Spouse(s) Kate Lehrer (since 1960)

James Charles "Jim" Lehrer (/ˈlɛərər/;[1]—born May 19, 1934) is a former American journalist and novelist, and is the former executive editor and a former news anchor for the PBS NewsHour on PBS. He is also known for his role as a debate moderator in U.S. presidential election campaigns, and is an author of numerous fiction and non-fiction books, which draw upon his experience as a newsman, and his interests in history and politics.[2]

Early years

Lehrer was born in Wichita, Kansas—the son of Lois Catherine (née Chapman), a bank clerk; and Harry Frederick Lehrer, a bus station manager.[3] He attended middle school in Beaumont, Texas, and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School (San Antonio, TX) where he was one of the three sports editors for the Jefferson Declaration. He graduated with A.A. from Victoria College in Texas, and with 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[4] 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.[5]


In 1959 Lehrer began his career in journalism at The Dallas Morning News. Later, he was a reporter for the Dallas Times-Herald, where he covered the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, and reported on other events until 1966, was a political columnist for several years, and became the city editor in 1968.

He began his TV career at Dallas KERA-TV as executive director of public affairs, on-air host, and editor of a nightly news program. He then moved to PBS in Washington, DC, to become the public affairs coordinator, a member of Journalism Advisory Board, and a fellow at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Next, Lehrer 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 also covered the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry of 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, Lehrer 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 later became the PBS NewsHour in 2009.[2]

Lehrer underwent a heart valve surgery in April 2008, and, while he recuperated, Ray Suarez anchored in his stead until his return on June 28, 2008.[6]

On May 12, 2011, Lehrer announced he would be stepping down as anchor of PBS NewsHour on June 6, 2011, but would continue to moderate the Friday news analysis segments, and would continue to be involved with the show's production company, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.[7]

Lehrer's career in journalism has been recognized through numerous awards and honors. These include 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. And, in 2004, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Journalism degree by McDaniel College.[2][8]

Presidential debate moderator

Nicknamed the "Dean of Moderators" by CNN's Bernard Shaw, Lehrer has moderated 12 presidential candidate debates,[9] including the first presidential debate between senators Barack Obama and John McCain on September 26, 2008. Lehrer has been involved in several debate-related projects, including the Debating Our Destiny documentaries in 2000 and 2008. The documentaries feature excerpts of Lehrer's exclusive interviews with most of the presidential and vice presidential candidates since 1976.[10]

Lehrer hosted the first United States presidential election debate for the 2012 U.S. presidential general election. He originally had sworn off moderating any debates after 2008, but the Commission on Presidential Debates persisted, and he accepted, interested in a new format.[11] 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, Lehrer came under criticism by some on social media and in the press for his lack of control and open-ended questions.[12] Conversely, he was also praised for letting the candidates have some control in the debate in their own terms.[13]

Personal life

Lehrer is an avid bus enthusiast and hobbyist.[14][15] His father was a bus driver, who also briefly operated a bus company. As a college student in the 1950s, Lehrer himself worked as a Trailways ticket agent in Victoria, Texas. He is a collector of bus memorabilia—including depot signs, driver caps, and antique toy buses, and is a supporter of the Pacific Bus Museum in Williams, California, and the Museum of Bus Transportation in Hershey, Pennsylvania.[2]

Lehrer is a prolific writer, and has authored numerous novels, as well as having penned several plays & screenplays, and three personal memoirs. His most recent book is "Top Down", a novel based on the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination.[16]

He is married to the novelist Kate Lehrer. They have three daughters and six grandchildren.[2]

Honors and awards


Lehrer signing copies of his book at the National Press Club Book Fair in 2011

Novels (One-Eyed Mack Series)

  • Lehrer, Jim (1988). Kick the Can. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-13350-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (1989). Crown Oklahoma. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-13434-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (1990). The Sooner Spy. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-13536-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (1991). Lost and Found. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-13601-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (1992). Short List. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-13665-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (1994). Fine Lines. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-517-16435-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Novels (Charlie Henderson Series)

  • Lehrer, Jim (1993). Blue Hearts. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-42216-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (1998). Purple Dots. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-45237-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Novels (Stand-alone)

  • Lehrer, Jim (1966). Viva Max!. New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce. ASIN B001TNUMVE.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (1995). The Last Debate. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-517-17761-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (1996). White Widow. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-45236-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (2000). The Special Prisoner. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-375-50371-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (2002). No Certain Rest. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-375-50372-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (2004). Flying Crows: A Novel. New York: Random House. ISBN 1-4000-6197-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (2005). The Franklin Affair. New York: Random House. ISBN 1-4000-6198-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (2006). The Phony Marine. New York: Random House. ISBN 1-4000-6486-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (2007). Eureka. New York: Random House. ISBN 1-4000-6487-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (2009). Oh, Johnny. New York: Random House. ISBN 1-4000-6762-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (2010). Super. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-1-4000-6763-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (2013). Top Down: A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-1-4000-6916-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (1975). We Were Dreamers. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0-689-10693-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (1992). A Bus of My Own. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-13765-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lehrer, Jim (2011). Tension City. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-1-4000-6917-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • The Will and Bart Show
  • Church Key Charlie Blue
  • Chili Queen


  1. http://oxforddictionaries.com/pronounce/american_english/Lehrer,+Jim
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "About Us: Jim Lehrer, Executive Editor". The PBS NewsHour. 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Jim Lehrer Biography (1934–)". film reference. 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Jim Lehrer (November 10, 2006). "Jim Lehrer Reflects on Marines at Museum Dedication". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved May 3, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Jim Lehrer (June 8, 2008). "Commencement speech of Jim Lehrer". Harvard University. Retrieved September 28, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. The Associated Press (April 25, 2008). "NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer Has Heart surgery". The International Herald Tribune. Retrieved September 26, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Farhi, Paul (May 12, 2011). "Jim Lehrer to step down from daily broadcast at 'NewsHour'". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 12, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. The Baltimore Sun - "McDaniel's Commencement is Saturday; Jim and Kate Lehrer to Get Honorary Degrees," May 16, 2004.
  9. Associated Press (September 29, 2004). "Jim Lehrer: 'The Dean of Moderators'". MSNBC.com. Retrieved September 26, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Debating Our Destiny website
  11. Brian Stelter and Michael D. Shear (October 4, 2012). "Criticism Greets List of Debate Moderators". The New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Bauder, David (October 4, 2012). "Tough reviews for Jim Lehrer as debate moderator". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. Retrieved October 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. kaue95 (October 4, 2012). "Jim Lehrer's debate performance criticized, defended and analyzed". Youtube. Retrieved October 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Lehrer, Jim - "A Bus of My Own", New York: Putnam - 1992. ISBN 0-399-13765-3.
  15. Hari Sreenivasan - "Jim Lehrer's 'Super' Office Tour", On the Road, PBS, April 16, 2010.[1]
  16. Lehrer, Jim - "Top Down: A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination", New York: Random House, 2013. ISBN 978-1-4000-6916-3.
  17. "Paul White Award". Radio Television Digital News Association. Retrieved May 27, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Peabody Awards won by Jim Lehrer , accessed September 2014.
  19. Simon, Brent (August 13, 2008). "Luke Wilson Wants to Direct... Again". Shared Darkness. Retrieved October 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Truitt, Brian (September 8, 2010). "Luke Wilson shoots for the top in 'Middle Men'". USA Today. Retrieved October 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Art at Our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers and Artists featuring Jim Lehrer. Edited by Nan Cuba and Riley Robinson (Trinity University Press, 2008).

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Robert MacNeil
NewsHour/PBS NewsHour anchor
Succeeded by
Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff
Notes and references
1. Lehrer co-anchored with MacNeil from 1975 to 1995.