Robert MacNeil of 'The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour' fame dead at 93

 April 14, 2024

The world of veteran news reporters lost a legend in the business this week. 

According to U.S. News, Robert MacNeil of the iconic “The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour" PBS news program that started in the 1970s has passed away.

The widely respected journalist was 93.

His daughter, Alison MacNeil, confirmed that her father died of natural causes while at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Amazing record

Given the years he spent in the news business, MacNeil pretty much saw it all, including being a leading voice during the Senate Watergate hearings for the public broadcasting service.

In 1975, he changed the news business by enlisting his friend, Jim Lehrer, as a Washington correspondent for his half-hour-long "Robert MacNeil Report" on PBS.

Given his popularity and the success of the show, it was expanded to include Lehrer's name, and later became an hour-long news program, which was a fairly new idea at the time.

U.S. News noted:

The broadcast became the “MacNeil-Lehrer Report” and then, in 1983, was expanded to an hour and renamed the “MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour.” The nation's first one-hour evening news broadcast, and recipient of several Emmy and Peabody awards, it remains on the air today with Geoff Bennett and Amna Nawaz as anchors.

MacNeil was ahead of his time when he created the popular program, saying at the time that he was inspired to deliver a different take on the news in the hour-long program by what was missing from other news programs on rival networks.

"We don’t need to SELL the news," MacNeil told the Chicago Tribune in 1983. "The networks hype the news to make it seem vital, important. What’s missing (in 22 minutes) is context, sometimes balance, and a consideration of questions that are raised by certain events."

Tributes pour in

Not surprisingly, especially given his legendary status, tributes poured in across social media.

"Saddened by the news of Robert Macneil's passing yesterday at the age of 93. Aside from Jim Lehrer he is the only person who is featured in 3 of our major feature films. I admire his journalistic integrity. RIP. Here he describes DC corruption in American History of Voter Fraud," Eric Abbenante wrote on X. 

Another X user wrote, "My god! What a tremendous journalist and host. We won’t see the likes of him again sadly. May his memory be a blessing."

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