McLaughlin Group – Best Sunday Morning Political Show Again Hidden Away by CBS

Witty, wise and well informed

Intermittently put in Siberia, then brought back

Invaluable transcripts available

A host for grown ups: John Mcclaughlin seems fierce, but only in the cause of curiosity and clarity

Why was the outstanding Sunday morning political comment show McLaughlin Group banished to the broadcast Siberia of 6.30 am on Sunday morning for much of last year?  At present, thanks to the invisible executive gods of media, it is back at its customary 11 am slot on CBS Channel 2 in NYC. But the question remains: why was it suddenly ‘disappeared’?

For a time – many months last year – this, the best Sunday morning political comment show on American television among many worthy rivals, was banished to a slot which made it very unlikely (saving the use of Tivo or a lesser DVR, of course) that viewers in New York City would catch it, given that they likely stayed up late the night before, either at a party or watching a good Saturday night movie on PBS (13) or CUNY (75).

The banishment was an astonishing move.  The McLaughlin Report is the only political show with a variety of well expressed analytical opinions which draw on substantial research and long time knowledge on the part of the participants, who sit ready to roll them out at a moment’s notice in well informed, well formulated and succinct sound bites when called on by the admirably abrupt stentorian host, who demonstrates every week that even at the age of 87 a man can be alert, intellectually vigorous and deal with ideas with dispatch.

The real John and his smile

The main reason the show is so good is that it is run by that one individual, rather than by a group.  McLaughlin himself is the creator, and the producer, as well as the host of each show.   There is no muffling taint of the committee, the compromise approach which burdens so many worthy creations of the human mind. This is one man whose guiding principle is that “there’s no reason on God’s planet why knowledge has to be boring”

The result is that the Report is the Sunday morning talking head show with the most lively conflict of ideas and opinions, a grown up gladiatorial arena where the participants’ ideologies are distinct and generate usefully direct clashes in widely differing views.  All of them, especially the staple presences of Pat Buchanan and Eleanor Clift, are well informed, articulate, and share a sense of humor and realism about themselves and the process. The show’s only major defect reflects its liveliness: often words are lost as too many participants talk at once.


The Group – Clarence Page, Eleanor, John, Monica Crowley, Pat

The show typically deals with two main news items a week along with the issues they raise. Thus one accomplishment of the show with great value is that it has a site that offers past shows on YouTube with full transcripts all the way back to 1998 also as podcasts and MP3s. The record is a tribute to the quality of the show.

A broadside from former Vice President Cheney and his daughter Liz appeared on top of the opinion page in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal. Quote: “In 1983, President Ronald Reagan said if history teaches us anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom,” unquote. “President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom,” unquote.

Question: Is it unprecedented for a former vice president to criticize a sitting president like this? Is it below the belt? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, I don’t think he should be critiqued on that level. I think we should ask, though, why somebody who was so colossally wrong in 2003 expects to have any credibility today. His major beef with the administration is that they didn’t keep a residual force in Iraq after the war ended at the end of 2011. Well, why didn’t they? Because Iran was so empowered by the stupid invasion of Iraq that Iran told Maliki I don’t want Americans in there. And Iran has much more sway over this government —


MS. CLIFT: — that our service people —

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat.

MS. CLIFT: — died for over a period of years. So I think Cheney is just off on some other planet.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat.

MS. CLIFT: And he’s going to get his comeuppance from his own party. Listen to Rand Paul.

Taped: Friday, June 20, 2014
Broadcast: Weekend, June 21-22, 2014 “

The one valid concern one might have regarding this exemplary show is the danger of it being cancelled owing to the increasingly frailty of the host as he advances towards his nineties.  But there is no sign of this vulnerability yet.

Highly recommended ****

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