Jim Lehrer to step down from anchor post at PBS' 'NewsHour'
After 36 years as the anchor of "NewsHour" on PBS, Jim Lehrer will step down from his post on June 6, PBS announced Thursday. He will continue to appear on many Friday evenings to moderate the program's weekly news analysis segment, which features a panel of journalists.
In a statement, Lehrer said he maintained "complete confidence" in the current "NewsHour" team to continue producing quality programming in his absence. "I have been laboring in the glories of daily journalism for 52 years ... 36 of them here at the NewsHour and its earlier incarnations ... and there comes a time to step aside from the daily process, and that time has arrived," he said.
Many viewers know Lehrer, 76, best for his role in the last six presidential elections, where he served as a moderator for 11 of the nationally televised debates among the candidates, including the one between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008.
"NewsHour" debuted in 1975 as "The Robert MacNeil Report," featuring Lehrer as a Washington correspondent who developed the show with Robert MacNeil. One year later, it was renamed "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report," then in 1995 when MacNeil left, it became "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." During Lehrer's tenure on the show, it won more than 30 awards for journalistic excellence.
Last month, Lehrer was honored with a career achievement award by the National Press Club. “Amid the cacophony of a sometimes shrill media landscape, he has remained the true voice of reason, balance and fairness,” the club's president, Mark Hamrick, said of Lehrer.
In response to Lehrer's announcement, Robert MacNeil said, "It is the most constructive and graceful exit strategy I have ever seen for someone holding a coveted and senior position in today’s media. It guarantees a continued place in today's bewildering media spectrum for a program that will stay devoted to serious journalism."
-- Melissa Maerz
Photo: Jim Lehrer. Credit: PBS.