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Biographical background on 2006 Dartmouth honorary degree recipientsJIM LEHRER(Doctor of Humane Letters)

Posted 05/01/06 • Roland Adams (603) 646-3661

Jim Lehrer
Jim Lehrer

Jim Lehrer, a novelist, playwright, reporter, editor, and television host, has enjoyed a 34-year career with PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service, where he has become a household name as the anchor of its evening news program.

Born in Wichita, Kansas in 1934, Lehrer graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism in 1956. After serving three years with the U.S. Marine Corps, he began his career as a newspaper reporter and columnist in Dallas, Texas. His first novel, about a band of Mexican soldiers re-taking the Alamo, was published in 1966. After taking some time to focus on writing more books, Lehrer was lured back into reporting for the Dallas public television station, where he was eventually made host and editor of a night news program.

His tenure at PBS began in 1972, and his partnership with Robert MacNeil began when the two teamed up to provide live coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings that were broadcast on PBS. Lehrer and MacNeil co-hosted The MacNeil/Lehrer Report from 1975 to 1983, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour from 1983 to 1995. Since then, Lehrer has been the solo anchor and executive editor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

He is known for his careful research and careful plotting, which serves both his journalism career and his fiction writing.

Lehrer has written 15 novels, including a series of mysteries featuring his fictional lieutenant governor, One-Eyed Mack, and a political satire, The Last Debate (1995). Other novels include White Widow (1997), a tale of a small-town Texas bus driver; and The Special Prisoner (2000), about a WWII bomber pilot whose experiences in a Japanese P.O.W. camp come back to haunt him 50 years later. His novel No Certain Rest (2002) recounts the quest of a U.S. Parks Department archaeologist to solve a murder committed during the Civil War. Lehrer's most recent book, The Franklin Affair, was published in April 2005. His 16th novel, The Phoney Marine, will be published in November 2006.

During the last five presidential elections, Lehrer served as a moderator for ten debates, including all three of the presidential candidates' debates in 2000. He also hosted the Emmy Award-nominated program "Debating Our Destiny: Forty Years of Presidential Debates." Leher was chosen as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1991, and he won the National Humanities Medal in 1999.

Lehrer lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, novelist Kate Lehrer. They have three daughters and six grandchildren. The two also have an 18th-century farmhouse close to the Antietam battle site, which was the inspiration for No Certain Rest.

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