Family members, friends and our PBS NewsHour family — past and present — said goodbye to co-founder Jim Lehrer on Friday.
Jim was a journalist, author, Marine, father, husband, granddad and friend, who touched the lives of many more who watched him each night on television. He died on Jan. 23 at the age of 85.
“On the NewsHour, my dad was serious, serious about things that matter, as he would say, when in fact he had such a merry spirit, he was quick to delight,” said Jim’s daughter, Amanda Staples Lehrer Nash. “And it showed instantly in his eyes and smile. One of his gifts was the way he could express emotion and so plainly tell his family and his friends how much he loved us and he was able to fully receive our love as well.”
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss, a friend, remembered Jim as a newsman who built “monumental” television programs, and as a witness to history.
Perhaps most notably, as a young reporter for the Dallas Times Herald, Jim was assigned to cover the arrival of President John Kennedy at the Dallas Love Field airport — the day the president was assassinated.
Robert MacNeil, Jim’s journalism partner and fellow co-founder of the NewsHour, spoke to Jim’s undying dedication to journalism and to avoiding even the appearance of bias. Jim did not vote nor was he registered to vote.
“His determination to be fair and not to reveal his own biases and prejudices in his questions are all wrapped up in his now famous 10 principals of journalism,” MacNeil said.
Beschloss said Jim provided “Americans night after night with facts and arguments that allowed them to function in what Harry Truman always called their most important role, citizens in a democracy — that’s what future generations will recall.”