RIP John McLaughlin

Ken AshfordIn PassingLeave a Comment

His show, the McLaughlin Group, was a stable in political programming for three decades.

He worked right up until the end. McLaughlin was 89 years old, and the cause of death was prostate cancer that was diagnosed some time ago and that had spread. The last show he presided over was taped the Friday after the Republican Convention, and it was clear to viewers that his health was declining

It would be his last appearance.

The following week, his show was a re-run.

And this past week, the August 12 show, he did the voiceovers but was too weak to actually appear (as the opening title says).  It was the first time he missed a broadcast in 34 years.

He was a Jesuit priest, and the first Roman Catholic priest to run for political office in the U.S.  He lost.  But he later became a part of Nixon’s speechwriting team.

From its debut in 1982 “The McLaughlin Group” took on the flavor of a barroom debate, pitting a largely white, male cadre of columnists and political insiders against one another as they gave vent to views from the hard right (Mr. Novak and Mr. Buchanan) to the center-left (Morton Kondracke of The New Republic and Jack Germond of The Baltimore Sun). Ms. Clift, a Newsweek correspondent at the time, and the Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page, who is black, later joined the group as more liberal regulars.

His program, broadcast on select CBS and PBS stations, inspired a generation of pundits, although few quite adopted his self-exaggerated, blustery persona.

Regardless of the panelists’ political persuasions, Mr. McLaughlin, whose own politics leaned decidedly right, would often fire off questions and cut them off, shouting “Wronnnng!”.  He was satirized by SNL

McLaughlin died Tuesday morning (the 15th) from pancreatic cancer.