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Former PBS NewsHour Anchor Jim Lehrer Dead At 85

Jim Lehrer (image via PBS)

Veteran news anchor Jim Lehrer, who co-founded and helmed the PBS NewsHour for 36 years before retiring in 2011, passed away in his sleep on Thursday at his home in Washington. He was 85.

From the New York Times:

While best known for his anchor work, which he shared for two decades with his colleague Robert MacNeil, Mr. Lehrer moderated a dozen presidential debates and was the author of more than a score of novels, which often drew on his reporting experiences. He also wrote four plays and three memoirs.

A low-key, courtly Texan who worked on Dallas newspapers in the 1960s and began his PBS career in the 1970s, Mr. Lehrer saw himself as “a print/word person at heart” and his program as a kind of newspaper for television, with high regard for balanced and objective reporting.

He was an oasis of civility in a news media that thrived on excited headlines, gotcha questions and noisy confrontations.

In 2001, Lehrer shared with The American Journalism Review he might be viewed as old-fashioned for believing “news is not a commodity.”

“News is information that’s required in a democratic society, and Thomas Jefferson said a democracy is dependent on an informed citizenry. That sounds corny, but I don’t care whether it sounds corny or not. It’s the truth.”

RIP Jim Lehrer.