John McLaughlin, the host of TV’s The McLaughlin Group since its debut in January 1982, died on Tuesday at age 89.
The political commentator’s passing comes just days after he missed his first hosting of his eponymous syndicated public affairs program in more than 34 years. Longtime panelist Pat Buchanan stepped in as host for that episode.
“I am under the weather,” McLaughlin explained in a note that prefaced this past weekend’s telecast. His distinct, once-bellowing voice, heard in pre-taped intros, was “weaker than usual,” McLaughlin acknowledged. “Yet my spirit is strong and my dedication to the show remains absolute!”
An ordained priest and holder of a PhD (in philosophy), McLaughlin taught high school at a Jesuit prep school before becoming a writer for a Jesuit current affairs publication. Some time after that, the Vietnam War opponent sought (but lost out on) a seat in the United States Senate. In 1974, he served as a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon, and in the 1980s wrote for National Review.
McLaughlin had moderated The McLaughlin Group, weekly round-table discussion of political issues, since Day 1, but had actively participated in the conversation less frequently in recent months, sometimes merely introducing the next issue.