Jim Lehrer, co-founder and longtime anchor of PBS NewsHour, died on Thursday at his home in Washington at age 85, according to PBS. The broadcasting service said he died peacefully in his sleep. Leher championed network evening news programs with balanced and comprehensive reporting and saw himself as “a print/word” person at heart,” PBS said. Lehrer served as an anchor of the NewsHour for 36 years before retiring in 2011. He co-founded the program with Robert MacNeil in 1975 after the two reported on the Senate Watergate Hearings in 1973. “I’m heartbroken at the loss of someone who was central to my professional life, a mentor to me and someone whose friendship I’ve cherished for decades,” said Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of the program. Lehrer included in-depth analysis and interviews with leading figures such as former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher and South Korean President Kim Daejung.
“I have an old-fashioned view that news is not a commodity,” Lehrer told The American Journalism Review in 2001. Lehrer moderated 12 presidential debates, more than any other person in U.S. history, and was the author of 20 novels, three memoirs, and several plays. He earned dozens of journalism awards and honorary degrees, such as the National Humanities Medal, which he was awarded by President Clinton.