Read my lips. No more debates.
Jim Lehrer didn’t use those words, but he might as well have. Lehrer’s November pronouncement that he would never host another presidential debate, like George H. W. Bush’s 1988 promise of no new taxes, turned out to be far from absolute.
With one major difference, according to PBS’s Lehrer. “There were consequences for him. There are no consequences for me.”
Lehrer will moderate the first Obama-Romney debate, Oct. 3 in Denver. It will be the 12th such event for Lehrer, 78, who last year retired as anchor of “NewsHour.” (For the first time since 1972, he won’t be the face of PBS at the national conventions.)
When members of the Commission of Presidential Debates asked Lehrer to re-consider, he said, Shermanesquely: “If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.” When the group pitched a new debate format, however, ‘never’ became too long to wait.
Despite the 180, Lehrer insists his conscience is clear.
“I have no regrets about saying what I did, or about changing my mind,” he says. “I am a regret-free person. I meant it when I said it at the time. I had no idea there would be a new format. Life is an ever-changing windstorm, and I’m a part of life.
“I didn’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I want to moderate a presidential debate.’ There was a long, long buildup. I didn’t change. The circumstances changed. I wouldn’t have considered it for any other reason.”
The selection of Lehrer, along with that of CBS’s Bob Schieffer, CNN’s Candy Crowley and ABC’s Martha’s Raddatz has drawn heavy criticism from blacks and Hispanics for its absence of racial diversity. Others have accused the moderators of being too liberal and/or too mainstream.
To Lehrer, with half a century in the news business, it’s all background noise.
We already noted last week that the team of Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will be the first ever all-female anchor team to lead a network’s political convention coverage. Now the rest of “PBS NewsHour’”s plans are coming to light.
PBS–which has the benefit of being a not-for-profit TV network–will offer substantially more primetime coverage than any other broadcaster, with coverage running each night of the conventions from8-11PM. During the coverage there will be a number of segments featuring analysis, commentary and interviews, including contributors David Brooks and Mark Shields, analysis from “NewsHour” political editor Christina Bellantoni, and reports from the convention floors.
Online, correspondent Hari Sreenivasan will lead the network’s coverage, which will be 24 hours and powered by Livestream. The digital component will also feature “NewsHour” contributors, and will also have regular segments.
More information below.
Moreover, PBS didn’t even mention that fact when it announced the pairing in late June. It took another month before it came up during a PBS panel at the Television Critics Association press tour.
Ifill and Woodruff, both respected veterans of “PBS NewsHour,” insist their gender-making distinction is not a big deal.
“I think it matters a little; it doesn’t matter a lot,” says Woodruff, 65, whose first convention was in 1976 as a newbie NBC correspondent. “We’re not there because we’re women. We’re there because we love to cover politics and we’ve been doing it a long time.
“We’re not going to go on the air and say, ‘Aha, now is your chance to see two women on the convention.’ If others want to point it out, I’m very comfortable with it.”
Woodruff and Ifill will anchor from 8 to 11 each night from the Republican event, Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, followed by the Democratic gathering, Sept. 4-6 in Charlotte, N.C.
Ifill, 56, is no stranger to ‘firsts.’ As moderator of “Washington Week in Review” since 1999, she is the first female, and first person of color, to hold the position.
“It’s not important that we’re women,” she says of the historic convention partnership. “It’s important as a sign that ‘NewsHour’ is evolving, with the most experienced people doing the best job. Since Jim [Lehrer] went ‘stage right,’ as it were, Judy and I have been anchoring so much. Between us, we’ve covered something like 16 campaigns.
“The fact that we’re both women is almost incidental.”
In an interview with Fortune, presumptive GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney says he would cut the PBS subsidy if elected President. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and its member stations across the country produce news programs like “PBS NewsHour” and “Need to Know,” as well as non-fiction fare like “Nova” and “Antiques Roadshow.” “NewsHour” anchor Jim Lehrer is one of the journalists tapped to moderate the upcoming Presidential debates.
You’ve promised to cap government spending at 20% of GDP. Specifically where will you cut?
There are three major areas I have focused on for reduction in spending. These are in many cases reductions which become larger and larger over time. So first there are programs I would eliminate. Obamacare being one of them but also various subsidy programs — the Amtrak subsidy, the PBS subsidy, the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.
PBS made a slew of announcements during its presentation at the 2012 Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills.
Leading the way was its 2012 Presidential election coverage, which will be featured on “Need to Know,” “Frontline,” “PBS Newshour” and “Washington Week.” The network also announced a pair of election specials to compliment its regular programming. The specials are “America By The Numbers: Clarkston, Georgia With Maria Hinojosa,” which examines the changing demographics of America through the lens of a small town in the Peach State, and”Race 2012,” which uses the election to update viewers on America’s racial landscape.
PBS also announced a new documentary from Ken Burns focusing on “The Roosevelts,” Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor, and a new series “Constitution USA with Peter Sagal,” which has the NPR host traveling across the country on a Harley Davidson to learn about the Constitution.
The PBS investigative documentary series “Frontline” has named Raney Aronson deputy executive producer. The move is notable, as “Frontline” has been under the leadership of only one person, David Fanning, since it was created in 1983.
A Brian Stelter notes in the NY Times, Aronson’s promotion signals that she is the likely heir to the “Frontline” throne when Fanning decides to retire.
The news did not come as a surprise — Ms. Aronson has been managing much of the production of “Frontline” for the past five years — but as confirmation of Mr. Fanning’s intention to hand the series over to her sometime in the future. “The title deputy means someone appointed and empowered to act on behalf of another,” he wrote in an internal memo to the staff on Saturday. “It’s my pleasure to have her agree to do so on my behalf, and share the responsibility and privilege of guiding Frontline’s present and future.”
“Frontline” is produced by one of public television’s powerhouse stations, WGBH Boston, which also produces “Antiques Roadshow,” “Nova” and “Masterpiece.”
Alec Baldwin went on Charlie Rose‘s PBS show last night to talk about his new movie, “To Rome with Love.” But the conversation quickly turned to Baldwin’s incident earlier in the day with a Daily News photographer who claims Baldwin punched him as Baldwin and his fiancee left a the marriage license bureau in New York City.
Rose posed the question, first discussing issues of fame and personal privacy, then getting at the heart of the matter. Appropriate for this setting.
Rose: “When you have an incident like you did, is it because you get upset somebody’s invading your privacy?”
Baldwin: “The guy almost hit me with a camera.”
Rose: “What happened?”
Baldwin: “There was a person in front of me, and I was blocking him and he lunged and he almost hit me in the teeth with the lens of the camera. And I pushed him away.”
Daily News photographer Marcos Santos tells it differently, and has filed an assault charge.
Baldwin and his “Rome” co-star Penelope Cruz went on to talk about the challenges of fame, a subplot in the Woody Allen movie. Baldwin says social media — which he used multiple times yesterday defending himself — exacerbates the problem.
“You have your political opposition and they get on the internet, and within 30 minutes the misrepresentation of the story is out there,” said Baldwin. “You go on Twitter or Fox Nation says, ‘Baldwin punches photographer.’ No true.”
Despite starring in a show on NBC, Baldwin has recently criticized “Today” for its coverage of him and his fiancee.
The network morning shows all reported the incident. “Today” and “GMA” did not use any of Baldwin’s interview with Rose, choosing a statement from his publicist Matthew Hiltzik instead. “CBS This Morning,” which Rose hosts, excerpted it at length.
Video after the jump…
Gwen Ifill was presented with the eighth-annual “Be More” Award from PBS this week, a prize celebrating individuals in public television who “embody the spirit of helping Americans to discover more.”
Ifill is moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for “NewsHour.” She received the award from PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger at the PBS annual meeting in Denver.
“Gwen is one of the best journalists in the country,” Kerger said in a statement. “She is among the most trusted people on television, someone to turn to for insightful, in-depth coverage of news and issues that matter. She represents journalism at its best: she’s skeptical about everything but cynical about nothing.”
‘Tis commencement season, and so without further ado, we present TVNewser’s fifth annual list of who’s-speaking-where-and-when at America’s colleges and universities (in alphabetical order):
ABC/CNN’s Christiane Amanpour: University of Southern California - Annenberg School of Journalism, May 11
FNC’s SVP of News Editorial Michael Clemente: Warren County Community College (NJ), May 19
ABC’s Katie Couric: University of Virginia, May 20
NBC’s Tom Costello: University of Colorado, Journalism & Mass Communication, May 10.
NBC’s David Gregory: Emerson College (MA), May 14
CNN/CBS’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta: University of Michigan, previously on April 28
NBC’s Savannah Guthrie: Hobart and William Smith Colleges (NY), May 13
MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry: Wellesley College (MA), May 25
PBS’s Maria Hinojosa: Simmons College (MA) – Morning Commencement, May 18
NBC’s Lester Holt: Pepperdine University (CA), previously on April 28
More after the jump, including Koppel, Lehrer, Sawyer, Schieffer, and three Williamses (Brian, Juan, and Pete)