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 12, 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 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 during the show′s final years. 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 first of these special episodes, the participants typically dressed in festive Christmas attire; in the second, they typically dressed in formal evening wear for the New Year.
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."
The show was distributed by WTTW. In the United States, it 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 Kentucky, Mississippi ETV in Jackson, Mississippi, PBS channel 8 KUHT in Houston, Texas, WGVU Channel 35/WGVK Channel 52 Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo, Michigan, and PBS channel 3 KBTC in Tacoma, Washington, that ran it on Friday evenings, and WHUT-TV Channel 32 in Washington, D.C., aired it on Tuesdays. Internationally, the show was carried on several satellite channels, such as Voice of America TV and it 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 its start until May 2008, the program originated from WRC-TV, the NBC-owned station in Washington, D.C. From May 2008 until it ended in 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.
In the final months of the show′s run, McLaughlin took a smaller role in the panel′s weekly discussions due to health issues and a wavering voice. The McLaughlin Group recorded its last episode on August 12, 2016, without him on camera. It was the only episode he missed in the show′s 34-year history, although his voice introduced the week′s issues in pre-taped voiceovers. The episode began with a written statement from McLaughlin, which read:
Dear Friends of The McLaughlin Group, Dr. McLaughlin here. As the panel′s recent absences attest, I am under the weather. The final issue of this episode has my voice, but please forgive me for its weaker than usual quality. Yet my spirit is strong and my dedication to this show remains absolute!
Panelist Pat Buchanan then began the episode by saying, "This is our first time in 34 years that our distinguished leader Dr. McLaughlin is not in his chair and we miss him. But let's get on with the show." Buchanan, Eleanor Clift, Clarence Page, and Tom Rogan recorded the show without a moderator. Rogan closed the episode by saying, "On behalf of the panel, we want to say to John that we're thinking of you and you have our very best."
Four days after the recording of the last episode, John McLaughlin died at the age of 89 on August 16, 2016. On August 18, 2016, WTTW′s chief content officer Dan Soles announced that The McLaughlin Group had ended production. He told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement, "This long-running political commentary and discussion show was consistently an audience favorite, and we will miss this important contribution to our political coverage. WTTW is proud to have brought the series, and Dr. McLaughlin, to the PBS system."
Regular McLaughlin panelists
- Regular panelists
- 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
- "AT LUNCH WITH: The McLaughlin Group; Just Another Talk Show? Wronnnggg!". The New York Times. December 16, 1992. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
- Halloween, 1991 Cold Open
- 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
- Mittovich, Matt Webb, "The McLaughlin Group to End 34-Year Run, Following Host's Death," tvline.com, August 18, 2016, 5:29 p.m. PDT.
- Littleton, Cynthia (August 18, 2016). "'McLaughlin Group' to End After This Week's Episode". Variety. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- Evans, Greg, "Ailing John McLaughlin Misses First ′The McLaughlin Group′ in 34 Years," deadline.com, August 14, 2016, 9:38 a.m.