Award-winning journalist Jim Lehrer’s newly published book “Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain” (Random House) takes a witty, behind-the-scenes look at more than 40 years of televised presidential debates. Lehrer, long considered one of the most well respected figures in broadcast journalism, has interviewed every president since Gerald Ford, and has moderated eleven presidential and vice presidential debates.
He is the executive editor and former anchor of PBS News Hour and author of 20 novels, two memoirs and three plays. Lehrer’s book includes in-depth interviews with candidates and other moderators, revealing the stories behind debate blunders, snafus, off-air conversations and critical moments. From candidate hesitations to jokes gone wrong, these tiny televised details had a direct outcome on the presidential election, and, of course, history. Lehrer’s lively tales from the frontlines include Ronald Reagan’s affinity for one-liners, John McCain and President Barack Obama exchanging little eye contact during one 90 minute debate and Dan Quayle comparing himself continuously to John F. Kennedy.
What presidential debate moments have surprised or shocked you the most? What moments would you like Jim Lehrer to shed some light on?
Jim Lehrer, award-winning American author, playwright, journalist, executive editor and former anchor, PBS News Hour