PBS NewsHour founder, host Jim Lehrer dies at 85

PBS NewsHour founder, host Jim Lehrer dies at 85
Debate moderator Jim Lehrer asks a question during the first U.S. Presidential Debate between presidential nominees Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Friday, Sept. 26, 2008. (Source: AP Photo/Chip Somodevilla, Pool)

(Gray News) - A host of the nightly PBS NewsHour that for decades offered a thoughtful take on current events has died.

Jim Lehrer died peacefully in his sleep at home at the age of 85, PBS stated.

“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 PBS NewsHour, 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.”

Like longtime partner Robert MacNeil, Lehrer saw broadcast journalism as a service, its main goal to help the public understand events and issues. The duo founded the program in 1975, out of their 1973 coverage of the Senate Watergate Hearings on PBS.

It features detailed reports and discussions of politics, international relations, science, and even the arts.

Lehrer, born May 19, 1934, served as anchor for 36 years before retiring in 2011.

He moderated 12 presidential debates, more than any one in U.S. history, including all of the debates in 1996 and 2000.

Copyright 2020 Gray Media Group, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to the report. All rights reserved.