The McLaughlin Group

The McLaughlin Group

infobox television
show_name = The McLaughlin Group

caption = The McLaughlin Group title screen
format = Political commentary
rating = unknown
runtime = 30 minutes
creator = John McLaughlin
starring = John McLaughlin
Monica Crowley
Pat Buchanan
Eleanor Clift
country = United States
network = PBS, broadcast syndication in some areas
picture_format =
first_aired = January 1, 1982
last_aired = Present
num_episodes =
website =
imdb_id = 0083448
tv_com_id = 13429

"The McLaughlin Group" is a syndicated half-hour weekly public affairs television program in the United States, where a group of five pundits discuss current political issues in a round table format. It has been broadcast since 1982, and is sponsored by MetLife.


Moderator John McLaughlin, along with three of the four commentators — Monica Crowley, Pat Buchanan, and Eleanor Clift — are usually present alongside one “guest” commentator. A typical episode focuses on three or four issues. Each issue is introduced and briefly explained by McLaughlin, and then an open debate begins. The conversation is usually sedate at the beginning of each program, but as opposing viewpoints emerge there is more verbal rough-housing, good-natured gamesmanship and loud crosstalk, which are the show's trademarks. The lively give-and-take gives the show much energy, and the participants are quite knowledgeable about the mechanics of politics, which adds a bit of “insider” weight to their opinions.

The last two episodes of the year are reserved for “The McLaughlin Group 19XX/20XX Year-End Awards.” Each panelist announces his or her choice for each category such as “Biggest winner of 2007,” ”Best Politician,” “Most Boring,” “Turncoat of the Year,” “Enough Already,” “Most Underrated,” etc., followed by McLaughlin’s choice. During the last episode of the year the participants dress in formal eveningwear.

McLaughlin’s in-show personality

The show is also known for the quirky style of McLaughlin, who is fond of making witty, sometimes outlandish, predictions based on current events (on March 23, 2007, his prediction was, “The next man on the moon will be Chinese!”), and asking questions in interesting ways. He speaks with a stentorian voice and often stresses his points by shouting “Issue!” before describing a news story. A phrase he often uses is: “On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 representing zero possibility and 10 representing complete metaphysical certitude, what is the chance of…?”. He always begins the show by saying “Issue one!” and typically ends the show by yelling “Bye-BYE!” after his final prediction. For the show aired before Thanksgiving, McLaughlin has instead ended with “Happy Thanksgiving, Gobble Gobble!” for a number of years. He tends to tease the panelists (usually only the men) by giving them obscure nicknames, e.g. “Freddy ‘The Beadle’ Barnes” or making inside comments about their wealth and such. He especially tends to rib Buchanan, whom he has known since 1970.

The tone of McLaughlin’s program, though often argumentative as with many other “Point–Counterpoint” style programs, is also somewhat different, due to the personal touch of McLaughlin and the panelists. McLaughlin’s role often resembles a professorial figure, asking followup questions and trying to elicit further responses from a panelist who thinks he or she has fully answered the question, as if McLaughlin were conducting a Socratic class at a university. The show’s participants do not always fall in predictable step with the stereotypes of the liberal vs. conservative checklist of viewpoints. The panelists of opposite political views have been known to agree with each other, and to disagree with their supposed political kin, on specific points or topics. There also appears to be a degree of personal closeness among the group, as when McLaughlin, in a spring 2005 broadcast, made special mention of the death of Clift’s husband, and extended condolences on behalf of the panel.


Many critics, notably journalists James Fallows and ex-McLaughlin panelist Jack Germond, have opined that the show glories too much in sensationalism and simplification, to the detriment of serious journalism. Germond has said, regarding the show, [ “I never had any illusion that it was journalism.”]

In popular culture

McLaughlin’s style has been parodied by many comedians and other commentators, most notably Dana Carvey of "Saturday Night Live." McLaughlin made a cameo on one of Carvey’s parody sketches, and adopted some of his gags (such as the “metaphysical certitude” line and occasionally referring to Eleanor Clift as “Eleanor, Gee I Think You’re Swell-eanor”). The program has also been included in a few major films, including "Dave", "" and "Independence Day".

Singer Andrew WK has recorded a 47-second song called “McLaughlin Groove” based on dialogue between McLaughlin and Buchanan on the topics of the untimely death of Senator Paul Wellstone, Carl Sandburg’s “ [ Fog] ” and the prediction of a Chinese moon-landing. [ [ Fair Game: The McLaughlin Groove ] ]


In the US, the show is carried on numerous public broadcasting stations, and as of May 2007 a small number of CBS-affiliated stations. [] Most stations carry the program on weekends, but there are a few, like WGBH in Boston, that run it on Friday evenings. Internationally, the show is carried on several satellite channels and was on the London based CNBC Europe. []

Up until May 2008, the program originated from WRC-TV, the NBC-owned station in Washington, D.C. As of now, the show is produced at WUSA-TV, the Gannett-owned CBS affiliate for Washington, D.C. [ [,+02:55+PM 'The McLaughlin Group' Moving to WUSA and WCBS Beginning May 4th ] ]


Current Regular "McLaughlin" Panelists

*Pat Buchanan: MSNBC Political Commentator
*Eleanor Clift: contributing editor, "Newsweek Magazine"
*Monica Crowley: Radio commentator

Frequent Alternate Panelists

*Clarence Page: columnist, "The Chicago Tribune"
*Mort Zuckerman: owner, "New York Daily News", "U.S. News & World Report"
*Michelle D. Bernard: Independent Women's Forum, MSNBC Political Analyst

Other Guests/Alternates

*Lawrence O'Donnell (formerly a regular panelist): senior political analyst, MSNBC
*Maria Bartiromo: Journalist, "CNBC"
*Jay Carney: "TIME"
*Caroline Daniel: White House correspondent for "The Financial Times"
*Chrystia Freeland: deputy editor, "The Financial Times"
*John Podhoretz: columnist, "The New York Post
*Dylan Ratigan: "CNBC"
*Vaughn Ververs: "National Journal", "The Hotline"

Former Regular Panelists

*Tony Blankley: former editorial page editor, "The Washington Times"
*Michael Barone: senior writer and columnist, "U.S. News & World Report"
*Jack Germond
*Robert Novak
*Morton Kondracke
*Fred Barnes
*Chris Matthews
*Al Hunt
*Mark Shields

Former Guest Panelists

*Lionel Barber
*Arnaud de Borchgrave
*John Fund
*Arianna Huffington
*Joe Klein
*Lawrence Kudlow: CNBC, "National Review Online", "The John Batchelor Show"
*Dick Morris
*Tony Snow
*Christopher Hitchens


External links

* [ Official site]
* [ Podcast] , both video and audio
* [ The McLaughlin Group] at the Internet Movie Database

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