John McLaughlin (host)

John Joseph McLaughlin (/məkˈlɑːklɪn/;[1] March 29, 1927 – August 16, 2016) was an American television personality and political commentator. He created, produced, and hosted the political commentary series The McLaughlin Group. He also hosted and produced John McLaughlin's One on One which ran from 1984 to 2013.

John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin at the White House in 1974.
John Joseph McLaughlin

(1927-03-29)March 29, 1927
DiedAugust 16, 2016(2016-08-16) (aged 89)
EducationBoston College (BA, MA)
Columbia University (PhD)
Known forThe McLaughlin Group
John McLaughlin's One on One
Political partyDemocratic (before 1970)
Republican (1970–2016)
Spouse(s)Ann Lauenstein (1975–1992)
Cristina Vidal (1997–2010)

Education and early career

John Joseph McLaughlin was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Eva Philomena (née Turcotte) and Augustus Hugh McLaughlin.[2] He grew up in a Catholic family who were second-generation Irish Americans and attended La Salle Academy, Providence.[3] At age 18, he entered Weston College in Weston, Massachusetts, which later became the theological seminary of Boston College, to prepare for the priesthood.[4]

He entered the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church in 1947, was ordained as a priest in 1959, and went on to earn two master's degrees (philosophy and English literature) from Boston College. After his ordination, McLaughlin spent some years as a high school teacher at Fairfield College Preparatory School, a Jesuit prep school in Connecticut. He took time off from teaching to earn a Ph.D. (philosophy) from Columbia University. He wrote his thesis on the Roman Catholic poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. He then became a writer and later assistant editor for the Jesuit current affairs publication, America, in New York City. Disagreements with the editor of the magazine led to his departure in 1970 after which he moved back to Providence.[5]

McLaughlin was originally a supporter of the Democratic Party and opposed the Vietnam War, but then became a war supporter and changed his party affiliation to Republican. In 1970 he sought permission from the Jesuit order to run for a seat in the United States Senate, representing Rhode Island. They had given permission to fellow Jesuit Father Robert Drinan who ran successfully for the United States House of Representatives in Massachusetts. When they refused, McLaughlin ran anyway but lost to the incumbent four-term Senator John O. Pastore.[3] Through a friendship with Pat Buchanan, McLaughlin then became a speechwriter for U.S. President Richard Nixon. In 1974, after the resignation of President Nixon, he spent two months under President Gerald Ford's administration. In 1975, he left the priesthood.[6]

Media career

After leaving the White House, McLaughlin worked with his wife Ann in public relations and in 1980 became a weekend radio host on WRC-AM in Washington, D.C. Eventually he was fired from that job.[6]

He then went on to write for the National Review and to host The McLaughlin Group, which premiered in 1982. The television show features four political commentators, usually two conservatives and two liberals, with McLaughlin seated in the middle.[3] His loud and forceful style of presentation was parodied by comedians and other commentators, most notably Dana Carvey of Saturday Night Live. McLaughlin enjoyed SNL's recurring McLaughlin Group sketches, even making a 1991 cameo appearance as the Grim Reaper in one of them.[7][8][9]

He was known for two catchphrases: "Wrong!" used to cut off a panelist with whom he disagreed, and "Bye-bye!" used at the end of each episode of McLaughlin Group.[10]

McLaughlin also hosted the interview show John McLaughlin's One on One, first telecast in 1984, and ended in 2013.[11] Also from 1989 through 1994, he produced and hosted McLaughlin, a one-hour nightly talk show on CNBC.[11] For a short while in 1999, he hosted an MSNBC show, McLaughlin Special Report. The show was announced on January 22,[12] and its cancellation was announced on February 25.[13]

Personal life and death

On August 23, 1975, McLaughlin married Ann Dore (née Lauenstein), his former campaign manager. She served as Secretary of Labor under President Ronald Reagan from 1987 until 1989. During this period, McLaughlin was sued for sexual harassment and discrimination by a former employee. He settled the suit for $4 million in December 1989.[14]

McLaughlin and Dore divorced in 1992.[15] McLaughlin married his second wife Cristina Clara Vidal on June 22, 1997.[16] The marriage ended in divorce in 2010.[17]

During the December 26, 2014, year-end awards episode, McLaughlin ended the show saying: "Person of the year: Pope Francis, especially now that he's told that animals can go to heaven. And Oliver is up there waiting for me."[18] Oliver Productions, Inc., is named after McLaughlin's pet dog [19] — a Basset Hound — and is seen in an animation as part of the brand logo shown at the close of each show. Oliver shared their Watergate apartment during McLaughlin's tenure as speechwriter for President Nixon.[20]

After missing his first broadcast in 34 years, McLaughlin died on August 16, 2016, at his home in Washington, D.C. of prostate cancer at the age of 89.[21] McLaughlin's last message to fans was August 13, when he explained he had missed recent tapings due to his poor health.[22]

The McLaughlin Group was parodied a number of times on Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s, where McLaughlin was played by Dana Carvey. McLaughlin also appeared in several films, including Dave, Mission: Impossible, Independence Day, and War, Inc., generally portraying himself discussing a political character in the movie. In the 2009 movie Watchmen, he is portrayed by Gary Houston in an early scene interviewing Pat Buchanan (played by James M. Connor) and Eleanor Clift (played by Mary Ann Burger) about the possibility of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. McLaughlin also hosted a special celebration for the 200th episode of the NBC sitcom Cheers.[23]


  1. "The McLaughlin Group 11/16/12"
  2. "Biography: John McLaughlin", Turner Classic Movies
  3. Jensen, Elizabeth (Aug 16, 2016). "John McLaughlin, TV Host Who Made Combat of Punditry, Dies at 89". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-08-16.
  4. Murray, Michael D. (editor). "Biography: John McLaughlin", Encyclopedia of Television News
  5. Moore, Frazier (August 16, 2016). "Passages: John McLaughlin, conservative TV host, dies at 89". Associated Press. Retrieved August 19, 2016 via Providence Journal.
  6. "John McLaughlin, provocateur of public affairs TV, dies at 89". The Washington Post.
  7. Mann, Virginia (May 23, 1992). "'SNL' Spoof Has Mclaughlin Crying 'More'". Bergen Record. Retrieved August 20, 2016 via Chicago Tribune.
  8. Durkin, J.D. (17 August 2016). "John McLaughlin Cameoed in This 1991 SNL Cold Open With Farley, Meyers, Carvey, and Hartman". Mediaite. New York, NY: Mediaite, LLC. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  9. Petski, Denise (16 August 2016). "John McLaughlin Dies: Longtime 'The McLaughlin Group' Host Was 89". Yahoo. Sunnyvale, CA: Yahoo. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  10. Page, Clarence. "John McLaughlin's final 'Bye-bye'".
  11. "About the Group".
  12. Starr, Michael (January 22, 1999). "McLaughlin Talks His Way to MSNBC Prime Time Lineup". The New York Post. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  13. Starr, Michael (February 25, 1999). "A 'Special' Goodbye". The New York Post. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  14. Naughton, Jim; McCombs, Phil (December 2, 1989). "McLaughlin Suit Settled". The Washington Post.
  15. Barnes, Mike (August 16, 2016). "John McLaughlin, Political Talk Show Host, Dies at 89". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  16. "Cristina Vidal and John McLaughlin". The New York Times. June 22, 1997.
  17. Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (April 23, 2010). "John McLaughlin and Cristina McLaughlin divorce after nearly 13 years". The Washington Post.
  20. John Mclaughlin, Nixon's Priest, Is Now a Civilian Radio Host Who Is Married and Hoping for Fatherhood People
  21. "The McLaughlin Group - Timeline | Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved 2016-08-16.
  22. "Legendary Talk Show Host John McLaughlin Dies". Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  23. "200th Anniversary Special". 1 January 2000 via IMDb.

Further reading

  • Nimmo, Dan D.; Chevelle Newsome (1997). Political Commentators in the United States in the 20th Century: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. pp. 201–11. ISBN 0-313-29585-9.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ronald R. Lagueux
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Rhode Island
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
John Chafee
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