“It’s not about us.” Remembering Jim Lehrer

In 1988, barely a toddler, my son began to recognize the theme music of a show we watched regularly: at the time it was called The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. He’d get a delighted look on his face and begin making little dancing movements. It was a part of his childhood as the show was part of our lives as immigrants in America, trying to make sense of all its many contradictions.

The program was fair and balanced before that phrase became a slogan and lost all meaning.

A PBS tribute to Lehrer says this:

Night after night, Jim led by example that being yourself — journalist, writer, family man, citizen — can be a high calling.

Being yourself. That too has changed with time, with too many public selves revealed to be less than admirable.

And this:

For Jim, being a journalist was never a self-centered endeavor. He always told those who worked with him: “It’s not about us.”

A Washington Post headline reads:

Always low-key, Jim Lehrer anchored TV news for grown-ups.

Indeed. But childhood memory can be a powerful thing, like a piece of music paired with a kindly presence on the screen, delivering the news, without drama and fanfare, to families across America.