Robert MacNeil, Legendary TV Newser, Dies at 93: ‘End of an Era’

By Ethan Alter 

Robert MacNeil

Pioneering PBS anchor Robert MacNeil died on Friday in New York City at age 93.

“Robert’s passing marks the end of an era,” Paula Kerger, president of PBS, remarked in a statement provided to TVNewser—one of many tributes that accompanied the announcement of MacNeil’s death. “While we mourn his death, we honor his life and work by building on his legacy.”

Along with his longtime colleague and co-anchor, Jim Lehrer, MacNeil made PBS destination news viewing for multiple generations. In 1975, the duo co-founded The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, which later became The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. “Jim is more authoritarian than I am … I am more collegial,” MacNeil once observed in an expansive interview with The Television Academy Foundation. “But good combinations those.” (Lehrer died in 2020.)


Courtesy PBS NewsHour

Born in Montreal, Canada, MacNeil started his broadcasting career in London before joining NBC News in New York. He famously covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy for the network, crossing paths with a man he believed might have been Lee Harvey Oswald. “I had no way of confirming [that],” he later wrote in his 1982 autobiography, The Right Place at the Right Time.

MacNeil joined PBS in 1971 and began working with Lehrer two years later during the Watergate hearings. Their partnership lasted until 1995, when MacNeil retired from regularly appearing on the program, renamed the PBS NewsHour in 2009.

Current PBS NewsHour co-anchors Geoff Bennett and Anna Nawaz issued a joint statement celebrating MacNeil’s life and career. “With his distinctive voice, he brought stories to life—unraveling complex issues with clarity and compassion. Whether it was through his incisive reporting or his intimate interviews, he possessed a singular ability to connect with people.”

In the wake of MacNeil’s death, tributes have poured onto social media platforms such as X, formerly known as Twitter.