He defined TV political debate in what would eventually become the cable era — combative, entertaining, fast-paced. Back in the 1980s when it started, the show was a revelation, because it was so different and fun. And its cultural impact was huge — who can’t imitate signature John McLaughlin lines? It stayed substantive and smart to the end, even as political talk proliferated in the media and got even more fast-paced and combative.
I occasionally was a guest over the years, and what I was always struck by was how much McLaughlin loved the game and loved the news (he was always eager for any new political or media tidbits). I remember him a couple of years ago saying to a guest something like, “Why would I ever retire, when I get to do this for a living?” He was an American original (to borrow from the phrase at the beginning of the show), a big personality, and a media pioneer. RIP.