John McLaughlin, Host of ‘The McLaughlin Group,’ Dies at 89

Commentator led political talk show for 34 years

Last Updated: August 16, 2016 @ 9:09 PM

John McLaughlin, host of the syndicated political talk show “The McLaughlin Group,” died at the age of 89 on Tuesday, according to the show’s official Facebook account.

“Earlier this morning, a beloved friend and mentor, Dr. John McLaughlin, passed away peacefully at the age of 89,” the Facebook post read. “As a former jesuit priest, teacher, pundit and news host, John touched many lives. For 34 years, The McLaughlin Group informed millions of Americans. Now he has said bye bye for the last time, to rejoin his beloved dog, Oliver, in heaven. He will always be remembered.”

Journalist Eleanor Clift, a longtime panelist on the show, wrote on the Daily Beast that “the cause of death was prostate cancer that was diagnosed some time ago and that had spread.” Just last weekend, McLaughlin missed his first episode in more than three decades.

The conservative commentator was as famous for his fast-paced moderation of the weekly roundtable debate program that included pundits like Clift, Pat Buchanan, Clarence Page, Mort Zuckerman and the late Jack Germond as he was for his bombastic exclamations such as his signature sign-off, “Bye-BYE!”

He was also the subject of a classic “Saturday Night Live” parody from the 1990s featuring Dana Carvey, which boosted McLaughlin’s profile for generations of TV watchers who would not normally tune in to a political gabfest starring a rotating band of middle-aged policy wonks.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, McLaughlin was a Jesuit priest who became a high school teacher and earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University before running unsuccessfully for one of Rhode Island’s U.S. Senate seats in 1970. He then became a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon, a job that he landed through his friend Buchanan, who was one of Nixon’s top advisers. After Nixon resigned, McLaughlin left the priesthood and married twice.

He worked as an editor and columnist at the conservative National Review throughout the 1980s and hosted another political talk show, “One on One,” that also aired mostly on PBS stations from 1984 to 2013.

Details of a memorial service are pending.

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