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PBS anchor Jim Lehrer dies at 85

PBS anchor Jim Lehrer dies at 85

Longtime PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer died Thursday, the network announced. He was 85. 

Lehrer had anchored the show, which he founded with Robert MacNeil, for 36 years before retiring in 2011. 

He died at home in his sleep, according to the announcement. 

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“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,” Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour, said in a statement.

“I’ve looked up to him as the standard for fair, probing and thoughtful journalism and I know countless others who feel the same way.”

PBS President Paula Kerger said she was sad to hear the news “giant” had died. 

“From co-creating the groundbreaking MacNeil/Lehrer Report to skillfully moderating many presidential debates, Jim exemplified excellence in journalism throughout his extraordinary career,” Kerger said in a statement. “A true giant in news and public affairs, he leaves behind an incredible legacy that serves as an inspiration to us all. He will be missed.”

In addition to anchoring NewsHour, Lehrer is the author of 20 novels, three memoirs and several plays. 

Former President Clinton honored him with the National Humanities Medal. Lehrer was also elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. 

During his expansive career, Lehrer moderated 12 presidential debates, more than any other person in the nation’s history. 

Lehrer is survived by his wife, Kate, his three daughters, Jamie, Lucy and Amanda, and six grandchildren.