Would Jim Lehrer Moderate Another Debate? ‘No, No, No, A Thousand Times, No’

By Alissa Krinsky 

JimLehrer1He’s known as the Dean of Moderators, having been at the helm of twelve presidential debates since 1988.

But don’t count on veteran newsman Jim Lehrer making another go of it in 2016.

“No, no, no, a thousand times, no,” he tells TVNewser about what he’d say if asked to moderate in 2016.

Lehrer felt the same way when we talked with him 2010. But he ended up moderating the first 2012 presidential debate.

“The only reason that I finally changed my mind [in 2012] was because I was persuaded by the Commission on Presidential Debates to do it, because we were going to try a new format,” he says, referring to the “new, open” approach that enabled the candidates to more freely speak and interact with each other.

Lehrer, 80, was roundly criticized, for not doing enough to challenge candidates, Pres. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, or control their questions.

Would anything change his mind when it comes to 2016?

“No way,” he says. “I was exhilarated by, and honored by, the experience, but I’m not interested in doing it again.”

Lehrer is enjoying his retirement from the show he co-created, The PBS NewsHour.  He still consults for the broadcast while traveling the world and spending time with his family – including his wife, three daughters, and six grandchildren. The prolific author is also working on “a couple of books.”

“I’m really, really happy.  I have no complaints about anything.”

We’ll have more from Lehrer on TVNewser next month, marking the first anniversary of Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff taking over as co-anchors of PBS Newshour.