Jim Lehrer, who co-founded PBS NewsHour and served as its anchor for nearly four decades, died Thursday. Current NewsHour anchor/managing editor Judy Woodruff reported the sad news on the broadcast’s website.
Lehrer and Robert MacNeil started NewsHour in 1975. Lehrer would go on to anchor the nightly news report for the following 36 years.
“I’m heartbroken at the loss of someone who was central to my professional life, a mentor to me and someone whose friendship I’ve cherished for decades,” Woodruff said in a statement. “I’ve looked up to him as the standard for fair, probing and thoughtful journalism and I know countless others who feel the same way.”
Lehrer’s television career began at Dallas’ public station KERA. He later became a correspondent for the National Public Affairs Center for Television, which is where he and MacNeil began covering the Watergate hearings in 1973. The duo became known for not only reporting on the proceedings but also offering analysis that helped viewers untangle the complicated testimonies.
That coverage birthed The Robert MacNeil Report, which then became The MacNeil/Lehrer Report. The program expanded to an hour in 1983, which is when it became known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Lehrer took over the broadcast, under the new name The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, when MacNeil retired in 1995.
In addition to interviewing key world figures over the years, Lehrer moderated several American presidential debates.
He is survived by his wife, Kate, three daughters and several grandchildren.