Vale: Jim Lehrer

Respected US broadcaster Jim Lehrer, best known for the PBS NewsHour, has died aged 85.

He died peacefully in his sleep, according to PBS. He previously suffered a heart attack in 1983 and had undergone heart valve surgery in 2008.

In 1975, Lehrer became the Washington correspondent for The Robert MacNeil Report renamed as The MacNeil/Lehrer Report. In 1983 it was relaunched as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, before further changes to The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and PBS NewsHour.

Politics, international relations, economics, science, even developments in the arts were all given lengthy, detailed coverage in the show, which screened in Australia on SBS.

Lehrer was also a frequent moderator of US presidential debates, and anchored PBS coverage of inaugurations and conventions.

“I think when the major political parties of this country gather together their people and resources in one place to nominate their candidates, that’s important,“ he told the Associated Press in 2000.

Lehrer once wrote that it was ironic that the Watergate hearings helped establish the importance of public TV, since President Richard Nixon hated public broadcasting. He also recalled that the lengthy hearings gave him the chance to practice his new craft, and MacNeil, already a veteran, gave him valuable pointers on how to speak on camera clearly and conversationally.

Source: The Guardian


  1. Yes indeed, the PBS NewsHour (in its various incarnations) is a reminder that journalism in the USA, at its best, is equal to anything anywhere else in the world. Jim Lehrer really does remind me of the best of the traditional NBC/ABC/CBS new anchors, who exude gravitas and reliability. And who can do their job without shouting or preaching to the audience.
    Jim and his former on air partner Robert MacNeil, showed how it should be done.

  2. Agree. And it still on SBS (as well as on SBS Viceland), so I might check it out. And I am not sure if there was an article about it (or it was mentioned in the end-of-year In Memoriam in 2016), but occasional fill-in host Gwen Ifill died back in November 2016 from breast cancer.

    What Lehrer did was real journalism, not the celebrity trash that dominates the media (and in particular commercial) media today.

    I put up the news about Jim Lehrer’s death just minutes after it was mentioned on SBS World News.

    • Yes the News Hour was a great show. Originally dedicated to providing in-depth, balanced, objective discussion of the day’s major stories, which Network news abandoned with then sensationalism and “amazing must see story coming up at the end of the bulletin” crap.

      Unfortunately since he left it has lost it’s objectivity, abandoned evidence and balance and followed the rest of the media down the rabbit hole of attacking Trump, promoting #Metoo, #blacklivesmattter etc. Balanced debate panels are a thing of the past though that isn’t all their fault, with America becoming so polarised it is hard to find quality guests these days who don’t just stay on message and attack the other side.

      It still has good features on education, health and economics though.

      • Agree. But in the United States, there is something called the First Amendment, which is freedom of speech and freedom of the press. And in the United States, you (as well as the press) are allowed to criticise the President, unlike in dictatorships. But you are right though in the polarisation in the United States, and remember that just over 50 percent of eligible Americans voted in 2016, and many Americans didn’t like Trump or Clinton, so the 2016 elections were fought between two of the most hated candidates in history of elections.

        But I think that this debate about Trump should be best done at another time.

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