Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Jim Lehrer, RIP


Jim Lehrer died Thursday, peacefully in his sleep at 85. He got his three-score years and ten with change back, a life lived in full. Lehrer was best known as half of PBS’s “MacNeil-Lehrer Report.” It debuted in 1975 and was an example of balanced reporting through at least the mid-1990s (when I drifted away from watching it).

Lehrer was also an entertaining author. I read and enjoyed several of the novels he wrote back in the 1980s and 1990s, notably, Kick the Can. He was an example of what news reporting and journalism should be and is no longer.

For your enlightenment, I offer Lehrer’s Rules of Journalism, cribbed from Instapundit:

He was one of the good guys. Memory Eternal.

There are 10 comments.

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  1. Annefy Member

    May his memory be a blessing.

    I remember the MacNeil-Lehrer report well. Watched it with my parents for years.

    I too read some of his fiction, and Kick the Can was awesome. Wasn’t there another book about a pirate??

    • #1
    • January 23, 2020, at 6:05 PM PST
  2. Lilly B Coolidge

    I’m not sure if a lot journalists can honestly say they’re not in the entertainment business. I think the ability to measure “most-read” articles and the need to generate clicks, views and ratings for advertising has changed so much. That’s why I do subscribe to multiple print and online news sources, but I still have to limit the expense of subscriptions. 

    • #2
    • January 23, 2020, at 6:17 PM PST
  3. Doug Watt Moderator

    Semper Fi Jim:

    He attended Victoria College in Texas and then studied journalism at the University of Missouri.
    Having his father and brother before him enlist in the Marines, Jim served three years as an infantry officer in the late 1950s, including time in the Pacific. He saw no combat, but spoke often of how the experience shaped him.
    “Seldom a day goes by, that I don’t know that I am doing something because of something I learned in the Marine Corps,” he said at a 2010 parade the Corps put on, in his honor.


    • #3
    • January 23, 2020, at 6:18 PM PST
  4. Gary Robbins Reagan

    He was a fair debate moderator.

    • #4
    • January 23, 2020, at 6:26 PM PST
  5. Manny Member

    I used to enjoy watching him on PBS. May he rest in peace.

    • #5
    • January 23, 2020, at 8:40 PM PST
  6. Arahant Member

    May flights of angels carry him to his rest.

    • #6
    • January 23, 2020, at 9:00 PM PST
    • 1 like
  7. Michael S. Malone Contributor

    I had him on my PBS show. He was one of the nicest people I ever met — and, speaking as a fourth generation newspaperman, the sanest reporter. A role model of professionalism and integrity to all us younger newsies. He was also immensely proud of having been a Marine. 

    The world is a meaner place with his passing.

    • #7
    • January 23, 2020, at 9:14 PM PST
  8. Dan Wilson Coolidge

    Look at those rules! If only all (or even most) journalists followed them today. Our country and the whole world need a return to journalistic principles. All the advocacy reporting is killing our trust in news media.

    • #8
    • January 24, 2020, at 8:55 AM PST
  9. Seawriter Contributor

    Dan Wilson (View Comment):

    Look at those rules! If only all (or even most) journalists followed them today. Our country and the whole world need a return to journalistic principles. All the advocacy reporting is killing our trust in news media.

    In my experience Lehrer followed those rules and insisted those working for McNeil-Lehrer follow them. It was a different time.

    • #9
    • January 24, 2020, at 9:00 AM PST
  10. Jim Kearney Contributor

    He also insisted that the moderator should strive for invisibility in debates. This sometimes meant asking more open ended questions and letting the candidates (notably Al Gore) talk too long. He got criticism from the left for the former, I suppose because they’re accustomed to having journalists on their side. While I would employ a count-down clock with automatic mike-shutting on candidates who go overtime, on balance Lehrer was one of the better debate moderators.

    We need more “invisible”, older, neutral moderators with dull policy questions. Instead, since Lehrer left they stage, we’ve seen moderators trying to weight the scales (Candy Crowley) or make a name for themselves (Megan Kelly) with loaded questions. Bias, journalists’ personal branding, and moderators trying to be stars of the replay echo chamber will kill the whole TV debate project one of these days.

    I do hope Lehrer’s novels will be recorded for Audible.

    • #10
    • January 24, 2020, at 9:40 PM PST
    • 1 like

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