John McLaughlin, the conservative TV pundit who hosted a weekly public affairs roundtable series “The McLaughlin Group” for nearly 35 years, died Tuesday. He was 89.
“As a former Jesuit priest, teacher, pundit and news host, John touched many lives,” “McLaughlin Group” said in a statement posted on its Facebook page. “For 34 years, ‘The McLaughlin Group’ informed millions of Americans. Now he has said bye bye for the last time, to rejoin his beloved dog, Oliver, in heaven. He will always be remembered.”
McLaughlin launched the half-hour program in 1982. He was known for his bombastic, jowly demeanor and direct approach to debating the week’s headlines and issues with four other panelists. He was often heard to shout “wrong!” when he disagreed with a subject. He signature sign-off was an exaggerated pronunciation of “Bye-bye.”
The series has been a staple of public TV stations around the country and has aired since 2008 on WCBS-TV New York and NBC affiliate WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. In 1984, McLaughlin launched the interview series “One on One,” which also aired on public TV stations.
The most recent regular “McLaughlin Group” lineup consisted of Patrick Buchanan, Eleanor Clift, Tom Rogan and Clarence Page. With McLaughlin’s passing, the fate of the show was not immediately clear.
A native of Rhode Island, McLaughlin entered the priesthood as a Jesuit but had an interest in media early on. He edited a Jesuit magazine and hosted local TV specials about topical issues such as women entering the workplace, according to “Hot Air: All Talk, All the Time,” the 1996 book by Howard Kurtz.
In 1970, McLaughlin mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Senate as a Republican. From there he wound up working as a special assistant and speechwriter for President Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford. He also served as associate editor of the opinion journal America.
In addition to creating, producing and hosting “McLaughlin Group,” from 1981 to 1989 McLaughlin was an editor for the National Review and penned the column “From Washington Straight” for the publication. From 1989 to 1994, McLaughlin produced and hosted “McLaughlin,” a one-hour talk show.
McLaughlin was twice divorced.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 20 at Washington, D.C.’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
Panelists and fans took to Twitter to express their appreciation for McLaughlin’s long run as a pundit.
Sad news. We lost John McLaughlin this morning. I hear that he smiled before he passed. His final gift to us. RIP https://t.co/baM3bJ1gC2
— Clarence Page (@cptime) August 16, 2016
— Washington Week (@washingtonweek) August 16, 2016
RIP John McLaughlin. My parents made us watch him every week which made the SNL sketches all the sweeter.
— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) August 16, 2016