John McLaughlin, a former Roman Catholic priest who became an aide to Richard M. Nixon in the White House and parlayed his fierce defense of the president into a television career as host of “The McLaughlin Group,” the long-running Sunday morning program of combative political punditry, died on Tuesday at his home in Washington DC. He was 89.
His death was announced on the program’s Facebook page. The columnist Eleanor Clift, a longtime panelist on the show, wrote in The Daily Beast that he had been treated for prostate cancer for some time and that it had spread.
Mr. McLaughlin had been absent from the show this last weekend for the first time in more than 34 years. “I am under the weather,” he wrote to viewers in a note that began the broadcast, adding that his voice was “weaker than usual” but that his “spirit is strong.”
As creator, executive producer and host of “The McLaughlin Group,” which began in 1982, Mr. McLaughlin helped reinvent the political talk-show format by injecting unabashed partisanship and a dash of entertainment.
His program, broadcast on select CBS and PBS stations, inspired a generation of pundits, although few quite adopted his self-exaggerated, blustery persona. His penchant for giving nicknames to his panelists, his riffling through the week’s topics and his prosecutorial questioning became fodder for comedians, notably Dana Carvey on “Saturday Night Live,” even while policy makers tuned in for the political observations.
Cristina Vidal and John McLaughlin
Cristina Clara Vidal, the vice president for operations of Oliver Productions Inc. in Washington, the company that produces ”The McLaughlin Group,” and John Joseph McLaughlin, the host of the NBC and PBS program, are to be married this afternoon. The Rev. James L. Connor is to perform the ceremony at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Washington.
The bride, 36, graduated from Hunter College. She is the daughter of Viviana A. Mejia of Yonkers and Rafael L. Cuello of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The bride’s father is a freelance television and radio sportscaster in Santo Domingo.
Dr. McLaughlin, 70, is also the executive producer and host of ”John McLaughlin’s One on One,” a weekly interview program. He graduated from Boston College, where he also received master’s degrees in philosophy and English literature. He received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University.
His previous marriage to Anne Dore from 1975 to 1992 ended in divorce.
He is a son of the late Eva P. McLaughlin and the late Augustus H. McLaughlin. His father was a salesman, based in Providence, R.I., for Thomasville Furniture in the New England region.
The couple met at a bookstore in New York in 1990; married in 1997 and divorced seven years later.