Jim Lehrer, Longtime PBS News Anchor, Is Dead at 85

In the 2012 debate, it was Mr. Lehrer’s light touch that came under fire. President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts at times ignored Mr. Lehrer, who strained to interrupt when they exceeded their allotted speaking times, and rules were violated repeatedly. Both campaigns accused Mr. Lehrer of losing control of the debate.

The Commission on Presidential Debates defended Mr. Lehrer, saying it was his job to get the candidates talking, not to insert himself into their dialogue. For his part, Mr. Lehrer said his task had been “to facilitate direct, extended exchanges between the candidates about issues of substance” and “to stay out of the way of the flow,” adding, “I had no problems with doing so.”

James Charles Lehrer was born in Wichita, Kan., on May 19, 1934, to Harry Lehrer, who ran a small bus line and was a bus station manager, and Lois (Chapman) Lehrer, a teacher. Jim attended schools in Wichita and Beaumont, Tex., and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio, where he edited a student newspaper.

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