For the first time in 34-years, The McLaughlin Group‘s future hangs in the balance following the death of its host Dr. John McLaughlin, who’s funeral was broadcast through the program’s You Tube channel Saturday afternoon.
In last week’s broadcast, John McLaughlin was only present in narrating the video segments while he gave the show up to the panel, Eleanor Clift (The Daily Beast), Pat Buchanan, Clarence Page (Chicago Tribune) and Tom Rogan (The National Review).
It’s also been said that this is the first time since the show has been on that John McLaughlin was absent. In place of a new airing of the show, was a repeat from 1985, three years after the show originally aired which covered a discussion about President Reagan’s cancer scare.
Though the tribute put together by The Wall Street Journal above says John McLaughlin’s cause of death was unknown, since then, it was discovered that he had prostate cancer, which makes the airing of the vintage 1985 episode rather ironic.
At the time, the panel was completely different from how it ended over the last several years, but it provides rare insight into why the show was criticized in its day, as it was unconventional at the time for pundits to talk over each other or dwell so much on an issue that was considered to be, in the words of Ronald Reagan “a political version of Animal House.”
This week, Clarence Page — who next to Eleanor and Pat, was on the panel the longest — wrote about his time on John McLaughlin’s show in the Chicago Tribune where he talked a little about the criticism.
“The show did have its critics. Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko, another master of nicknames, called it ‘the McGoofy Group.’ Germond called it ‘TV at its worst’ and insisted he was only sticking around to pay for his daughter’s medical school tuition. My grandmother simply called it ‘the shouting show.’ Sounds about right.”
In the streaming video of McLaughlin’s funeral starting at 106:53, Pat Buchanan was the first to say something about the late host.
On Wednesday after the death of John McLaughlin, Tom Rogan wrote an apology on his site of who he should have given credit to for being added to The McLaughlin Group, saying he neglected giving credit because of his arrogance, also revealing that while John wrote his own copy for the show, Rogan also contributed to the writing of some of the segments.
In many of the videos paying tribute to John McLaughlin, there is frequent mention of Dana Carvey’s impersonation of him and his program on Saturday Night Live, but little to no mention of his other contribution to the influence of entertainment in 2009’s The Watchmen, which imagined another Nixon presidency, with all of the roles played by actors.
Even in a Halloween version of Dana Carvey’s parody, John McLaughlin himself showed up in the bit. But there’s also little mention of the real panel acting out and having real debates about fictional scenarios, such as they did in both Dave(1993), and Murder at 1600 (1997) and in both Independence Day movies.
In the second one which was released this year, the panel finalizes its legacy for one last time arguing about aliens and how they escaped the destruction from the first film by fleeing into the mountains.
Thursday, Variety reported that The McLaughlin Group had been cancelled, which according to the report is in league with what John McLaughlin wanted when he was approached 5-years ago to sell the show and find a replacement, but he declined suggesting that “turning off the lights” would be best thing to do.
[Image by Kevin Wolf/AP Photo]