Notes from Evan Smith
"If you had told today's guest two years ago that he'd be the only one of the four big anchors still in the chair today, he'd have laughed in your face. We all would have. But with Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw retired and Peter Jennings recovering from a bout with cancer, Jim Lehrer is indisputably the last man standing, or sitting, in nightly news.
And is it any wonder? With the shopworn dinnertime offering of recycled headlines and Ken-doll commentary in ratings freefall, it stands to reason that something different -- smarter, deeper -- would be a hit with more than just news junkies. It stands to reason, too, that 71-year-old Lehrer, for whom the words "solid" and "trustworthy" seem to have been invented, would be the one to save broadcast journalism in its hour of need.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Lehrer graduated from Victoria College in the southeast Texas town of Victoria and the University of Missouri before serving three years as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. He spent the next ten years in Dallas -- as a newspaperman and as the host of Newsroom, a mythically famous nightly local news program that aired on Dallas public TV station KERA. In 1972 he moved to Washington, D.C, and went to work for PBS; three years later, with his friend and colleague Robert MacNeil, he launched The MacNeil/Lehrer Report
, later renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour
, the first-ever 60-minute evening news program on television.
In 1995, after two decades in partnership, MacNeil retired, but Lehrer kept going -- and amazingly, he continues to host The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
today, as well as moderate presidential debates -- ten in the last five quadrennial election cycles -- and write novels. If you can believe it, his fifteenth, The Franklin Affair
, was published in April, and it's ever bit as good as everything else he does -- just as we've come to expect." - Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, Broadcast 11.15.07
Watch the 7.14.05