Inside the Presidential Debates

Inside the Presidential Debates

Jim Lehrer

11.13.2012

Jim Lehrer

Jim Lehrer, Executive Editor, is the author of 20 novels, two memoirs, three plays and a non-fiction work about the presidential debates titled "Tension City" that was published by Random House in September 2011. Lehrer's newspaper career led him to public television, first in Dallas, as KERA-TV's executive director of public affairs, on-air host and editor of a nightly news program. He subsequently moved to Washington, DC, to serve as the public affairs coordinator for PBS, and was also a member of PBS's Journalism Advisory Board and a fellow at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Lehrer has been honored with numerous awards for journalism, including the Chairman’s Award at the 2010 National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences News & Documentary Emmy Awards, the 1999 National Humanities Medal, presented by President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and in October 2011, the National Press Club will present him with their top honor, the Fourth Estate Award. In 1999, Lehrer was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame with MacNeil and into The Silver Circle of the Washington, DC, Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He has won two Emmys, the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, the George Foster Peabody Broadcast Award, the William Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit and the University of Missouri School of Journalism’s Medal of Honor. In 1991, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This year, The Commission on Presidential Debates invited Lehrer to moderate what was his 12th nationally televised presidential debate on Oct. 3, 2012 in Denver, CO. Lehrer’s contributions as both a journalist and a debate moderator have led many to recognize him with national service awards, including the Colonial Williamsburg Churchill Bell Award in 2011 and the Distinguished Service Award for the Advancement of American Public Discourse on Foreign Policy from the American Committees on Foreign Relations.

A veteran PBS news anchor who has moderated 12 presidential and vice presidential election debates, Jim Lehrer discusses his experience moderating the first 2012 debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. He also discusses his book, “Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain.” at Friday Courtroom Bowen School of Law.  
In the book, Lehrer draws on his own experiences as “the man in the middle seat,” in-depth interviews with the candidates and his fellow moderators, and transcripts of key exchanges, to illuminate what he calls the “Major Moments” and “killer questions” that defined the debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain.