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John McLaughlin

  • Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Birthday: March 29
Date of passing: 
August 16, 2016

John McLaughlin was former Roman Catholic priest who became one of the most distinctive personalities in political television as the host of his own talk show, The McLaughlin Group.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, McLaughlin graduated from LaSalle University, after which he studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1959.

John McLaughlin was former Roman Catholic priest who became one of the most distinctive personalities in political television as the host of his own talk show, The McLaughlin Group.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, McLaughlin graduated from LaSalle University, after which he studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1959.

He went on to earn master's degrees in philosophy and English at Boston College, and a PhD in philosophy at Columbia University. He became editor of the Jesuit magazine America but resigned to run for the U.S. Senate in Rhode Island in 1970. Although he lost the election, he went on to work as a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon and as an aide to Nixon in the White House.

After Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal and was succeeded by Gerald Ford, McLaughlin was no longer needed as a speechwriter. Often at odds with Church leaders, he successfully petitioned the Vatican to be released from the priesthood in 1975.

He went on to form a consulting firm and began hosting a radio show in Washington. He later became an editor and columnist for the conservative magazine National Review and formed a television production company, through which he created The McLaughlin Group, which premiered in 1982 on  WRC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Washington.

Conceived as an alternative to the staid format of most political programs, the show, which aired for more than thirty years, was marked by lively, at times contentious, debate, driven by McLaughlin's vocal, opinionated, sometimes combative style as he moderated volatile discussions among pundits from all areas of the political spectrum. His brash on-camera persona was often lampooned, most notably by Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live.

McLaughlin died on August 16, 2016, in Washington, D.C. He was 89.

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John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin

Photo credit: 
Kevin Wolf / Associated Press