Jim Lehrer

KEYNOTE SPEAKER 

Jim Lehrer

Keynote Description: 

After moderating 12 debates across seven presidential elections, Jim Lehrer offered advice to future moderators that charitable planners can also take to heart: “It’s less about preparing questions than it is about preparing to listen, being comfortable enough to listen to the answer and make a decision about whether to follow up, or go to the other candidate for a response, or move on. You have to be comfortable enough to make these kinds of split-second decisions, and the only way you get comfortable is to do your homework.” Jim did his homework and reported the news—first in print and then on public television—from 1959 to 2012. He has practiced the art of the simple, direct question through the Kennedy assassination, the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, Watergate and the impeachment of President Nixon, 9/11 and the many causes and effects of these great events. As he prepared to retire, his friend and colleague Robert MacNeil said, “Jim has been able to bequeath the most precious commodity in journalism, the enormous trust and credibility he has inspired over the years.” At the National Conference on Philanthropic Planning, Jim will reflect on his career and the current state of the news, and take a few of those simple, direct questions from the audience. 

 

Presenter Biography: 

Known best for 36 years of nightly news reporting on PBS, Jim Lehrer started working first as a newspaper reporter, then a political columnist and city editor. His first work in public television was as executive director of public affairs and host of a nightly news program in Dallas. He moved to PBS to serve as news and public affairs coordinator and, in 1973, partnered on air with correspondent Robert MacNeil to provide coverage and analysis of the Watergate hearings.

By 1975, "The Robert MacNeil Report" debuted with Lehrer as the Washington correspondent and shortly was renamed "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report" with Lehrer as co-anchor. The show won more than 30 awards. Renamed “The PBS News Hour,” when Lehrer retired in 2012, it continues to be a staple of the PBS lineup.

Lehrer is the recipient of the National Press Club's Fourth Estate Award, two Emmys, the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, the George Foster Peabody Broadcast Award and the William Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit. He is a member of the Television Hall of Fame and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lehrer also has served as moderator for 12 presidential election debates, and has crafted a second career as an author. In addition to his best-selling book, Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain, he has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books, two memoirs and three plays. Two of his books have been adapted for film.

Lehrer and his wife, Kate, have been married since 1960. They have three daughters—Amanda, Lucy and Jamie—and six grandchildren.

 

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