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Bye-bye to an American Original

Mclaughlin,_JohnThe McLaughlin Group is scheduled to air its final broadcast tomorrow, following the death this week of moderator John McLaughlin.

A few Friday evenings ago I tuned in and the host of the long-running PBS program didn’t look well at all, rarely seen on camera, not injecting his comments into the debate swirling around him as he had done so for so many years. He probably shouldn’t have been there at all, but, I suspect, had stubbornly dragged himself out of bed, tied his tie and gotten to work.

McLaughlin didn’t appear on the program the following week, panelist Pat Buchanan facilitated the discussion.

After missing his first broadcast in 34 years, McLaughlin died Tuesday at his home in Washington, D. C., of prostate cancer. He was at 89.

I only started watching The McLaughlin Group regularly about 10 years ago, after the classic Saturday Night Live sketches. The show starts with McLaughlin introducing the first topic, “Issue one,” he barked, and off they would go; four regular panelists Pat Buchanan, Eleanor Clift, Clarence Page and Tom Rogan engaged in loud, let’s call it robust cross talk. President Reagan called the show a political version of Animal House. Panelist Clift called it televised food fight. But take note. The panelists respectfully tore into each other’s views-not each other, as we’ve witnessed during other debates this past year.

The McLaughlin Group helped me form my own views and challenged those I already held. At the conclusion of each program McLaughlin went around the table getting predictions from the panelists and then declare his own before signing off with his trademark wave, “Bye-bye…”

I predict I’ll miss the McLaughlin Group.

 

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