Bye-bye: A farewell to John McLaughlin
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When talking trailblazers in the political panel TV business, the first name that always came to mind was John McLaughlin

McLaughlin died at the age of 89 on Tuesday after battling prostate cancer, according to longtime panelist Eleanor Clift. The revelation was a shocking one because McLaughlin kept his condition a secret even from frequent guests like Clift, Pat Buchanan and Clarence Page until just a few weeks ago.


That's just the kind of old-school guy McLaughlin was. He never wanted to make himself the story, even when deteriorating from cancer. 
He also dedicated himself to his craft in Cal Ripken-esque fashion: The Orioles' Iron Man played in 2,632 consecutive games from 1982 to 1998. McLaughlin hosted his program, "The McLaughlin Group," every week from Jan. 1, 1982 to Aug. 7, 2016.

Talk about a record that will never be broken. And just days before his death, he still mustered the strength to pre-record an introduction to a segment for the Aug. 14 edition. That's dedication.

But McLaughlin will not only be remembered for longevity and dependability but that voice. Those distinctive, booming, one-of-a-kind pipes. They made every topic on his 30-minute program, one he created and executive produced, just feel more important. And it didn't take long for McLaughlin to make an impact on the political scene felt all the way up to the highest office in the land. 
In 1985, three years after the show's launch, President Reagan jokingly roasted the McLaughlin Group at a Ritz-Carlton reception, saying, "In America's diet of political commentary, its intellectual nutritional values fall somewhere between potato chips and Twinkies."
"John McLaughlin, Mr. T of TV journalism," Reagan ribbed as McLaughlin laughed along. "I once described John by saying the United States needs a tax increase like John McLaughlin needs assertiveness training. John took a simple Sunday morning discussion format out of the issues of our day and, using the insight, skill, and great humility that have become his trademarks, managed to turn it into a political version of 'Animal House.' "

Thank you for making that half hour every weekend something very special to look forward to," the president concluded, chuckling. "I wouldn't miss it. I can't afford to."
As you watch a cable news panel some time today or in the near future, you'll see McLaughlin's stamp on every segment. The point-counterpoint-confrontation style is his creation. 
It may sound so simple and may be so pervasive now, but there was once a time — well before cable news exploded in the 90s — that The McLaughlin Group was an island unto itself. It was a product the moderator was proud of to the point of being charmingly cocky. 
"I do put my questions in terms of the sharpest polarities of the issue," McLaughlin told The New York Times nearly 30 years ago before an appearance on the hit NBC comedy "Alf."
"But I don't want a preponderance of opinion over factual data."
"I would put the scoop data, the inside stuff that is produced on our show, up against any other talk show," McLaughlin continued. "I think my guys and gals are very well informed — they vacuum the environment."

Two on the right, two on the left. One larger-than-life figure in John McLaughlin in the middle. 
Sunday mornings will never be the same. 
Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.
The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.