The McLaughlin Group
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|The McLaughlin Group|
The McLaughlin Group title screen
|Created by||John McLaughlin|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location(s)||WUSA Broadcast House, Washington, D.C.|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Distributor||WTTW National Productions|
|Original network||Broadcast syndication, primarily to public television|
|Picture format||1080i 16:9 (HDTV)|
|Original release||January 1, 1982– August 21, 2016|
The McLaughlin Group was a syndicated half-hour weekly public affairs television program in the United States, hosted by John McLaughlin from its first episode in 1982 until his death in 2016. A group of four pundits, prompted by McLaughlin, discussed current political issues in a round table format. It aired on PBS member TV stations and the PBS digital subchannel World as well as on some local commercial TV stations, including WCBS-TV in New York City. During its run, underwriters included Pfizer, the New York Stock Exchange, and GE (the longest-serving). The program aired its last episode on August 21, 2016, following the death of its namesake moderator on August 16.
The general format for the show consisted of moderator John McLaughin questioning four commentators, usually Pat Buchanan, Eleanor Clift, Clarence Page, Tom Rogan and Mort Zuckerman. Members of the regular panel varied over the years.
A typical episode covered three or four issues. The first was introduced by McLaughlin, beginning with, "Issue one..." which was explained by him, usually in a prerecorded video segment accompanied by his voice-over. He then proposed a question for the panelists, starting with Buchanan (if present). The conversation was usually sedate at the beginning of the program, but as opposing viewpoints emerged there was more verbal rough-housing, good-natured gamesmanship and occasionally very loud crosstalk as panelists attempted to out-yell the others, all of which were the show's trademarks.
Two episodes at the turn of the calendar year were reserved for "The McLaughlin Group Year-End Awards". Each panelist announced his or her choice for each category such as “Biggest Winner of 2008,” ”Best Politician,” “Most Boring,” “Turncoat of the Year,” “Enough Already,” “Most Underrated,” etc., followed by McLaughlin’s choice. During the second of these special episodes, the participants typically dressed in formal evening wear.
In popular culture
McLaughlin’s loud and forceful style of presentation was parodied by many comedians and other commentators, most notably Dana Carvey of Saturday Night Live McLaughlin made a cameo on one of Carvey’s parody sketches. The program was also included in a few major films, including Dave, Murder at 1600 and Independence Day. In the movie Watchmen, the group was portrayed discussing the nature of Dr. Manhattan. In the videogame "MechCommander 2," the fictional discussion panel "Think Tank" closely resembled The McLaughlin Group's basic format -- a moderator in between four commenters, McLaughlin's speech patterns, general appearance, etc.
Journalists James Fallows and ex-McLaughlin panelist Jack Germond opined that the show gloried too much in sensationalism and simplification, to the detriment of serious journalism. Ronald Reagan, while in office as U.S. president, once referred to McLaughlin and his group as taking the traditional Sunday morning talk show format of a moderator with a group of journalists and turning it into "a political version of Animal House."
In the US, the show was carried on numerous public broadcasting stations, and from May 2007 to August 2016 a small number of CBS-affiliated stations. Most stations carried the program on weekends, but there were a few, like WGBH in Boston, Kentucky Educational Television stations across The Bluegrass State, Mississippi ETV in Jackson, PBS channel 8 KUHT in Houston, WGVU/WGVK 35/52 Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo, Michigan, and PBS channel 3 KBTC in Tacoma that ran it on Friday evenings. Internationally, the show was carried on several satellite channels, such as Voice of America TV and was on the London-based CNBC Europe. It was also carried by CTV in Christchurch, New Zealand, and by Triangle TV in Auckland, New Zealand.
From the program's start until May 2008, the program originated from WRC-TV, the NBC-owned station in Washington, D.C. From May 2008 to August 2016, the show was produced at WUSA-TV, the Tegna-owned CBS affiliate for Washington, D.C., where it also aired in that market.
Regular McLaughlin panelists
- Regular panelists as of August 2016
- Pat Buchanan: political commentator and author
- Eleanor Clift: contributor, MSNBC and The Daily Beast
- Clarence Page: columnist, The Chicago Tribune
- Tom Rogan columnist, National Review
- Appeared every several months
- Paul Glastris: editor, Washington Monthly
- Mort Zuckerman: owner, New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report
- David Rennie: columnist, The Economist
- Former regular panelists
Tony Blankley, Lawrence O'Donnell, Michael Barone, Jack Germond, Rich Lowry, Robert Novak, Morton Kondracke, Fred Barnes, Chris Matthews, Al Hunt, Mark Shields, Michael Kinsley, Monica Crowley, Katty Kay, Susan Ferrechio, Jay Carney
- Littleton, Cynthia (August 18, 2016). "'McLaughlin Group' to End After This Week's Episode". Variety. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- "AT LUNCH WITH: The McLaughlin Group; Just Another Talk Show? Wronnnggg!". The New York Times. December 16, 1992. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
- Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan, Meet Dr. Hollywood
- "Why America Hates the Press". Frontline. Oct 22, 1996. Retrieved Aug 20, 2012.
- "Remarks at a Reception for the McLaughlin Group". Reagan.utexas.edu. 1985-10-29. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- "The McLaughlin Group". Mclaughlin.com. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- "News Headlines". Cnbc.com. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- 'The McLaughlin Group' Moving to WUSA and WCBS Beginning May 4th