Jim Lehrer to Step Down as Anchor of ‘PBS NewsHour’

Public television fixture to leave daily news show after 36 years in June

Last Updated: May 12, 2011 @ 10:10 AM

Jim Lehrer — a public broadcasting fixture — announced to staff this morning that he is stepping down from the regular anchor role on "PBS NewsHour."

Lehrer, who's spent 36 years as at the "Newshour" anchor desk, will relinquish his seat on June 6th.

While he will no longer be part of the regular daily anchor rotation team, Lehrer said he will still appear on some Friday evenings to moderate the weekly analysis of columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Lehrer said he will also remain involved in the editorial direction of the show and with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.

He's hinted at his eventual exit for a few years now. In 2009, PBS renamed "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" as "PBS NewsHour," creating a multi-anchor format. The show's rotating cast of correspondents — including Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, Jeffrey Brown, Ray Suarez and Margaret Warner — will continue to co-host the show, PBS said.

Lehrer has moderated 11 presidential debates and interviewed every U.S. President since Gerald Ford.

"I have been laboring in the glories of daily journalism for 52 years — 36 of them here at the Newshour and its earlier incarnations — and there comes a time to step aside from the daily process," Lehrer said in a statement. "That time has arrived."

"It is the most constructive and graceful exit strategy I have ever seen for someone holding a coveted and senior position in today's media," Robert MacNeil, the show's original host when it launched in 1975, said on Thursday. "It guarantees a continued place in today's bewildering media spectrum for a program that will stay devoted to serious journalism."

The show was renamed "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report" in 1976, and won more than 30 awards for journalistic excellence. In 1983, it was renamed again — as "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" — until MacNeil left in 1996.