Veteran news anchor Jim Lehrer is approaching 80 years old, but he wants to make one thing clear: He didn't know any Founding Fathers personally. He does have a favorite, though, and he's the reason the retired "PBS NewsHour" host read a few lines from his 2005 novel "The Franklin Affair" on Thursday night at a reception hosted by British Ambassador Peter Westmacott.
Lehrer reconfirmed to Yeas & Nays that he has definitely retired from duties such as hosting presidential debates -- for real this time -- and he's "very comfortable" staying off national TV, writing his novels and attending events where he gets to talk about Benjamin Franklin rather than Benghazi or the IRS.
"There's no modern day version of Ben Franklin around," said Lehrer. He noted Franklin never represented a specific constituency, but was able to act as the "grease" that brought the founders together. "It would be hard even for Ben Franklin to be Ben Franklin today."
Lehrer visited Franklin House at 36 Craven St. in London while researching his Franklin novel. The house is the only structure still existing where Franklin once lived, and Lehrer urged attendees -- mainly sponsors of the restoration foundation -- to visit the place where Franklin invented the "air bath."