Maryland Public Television announced this week that it is rebooting “The McLaughlin Group" next month, and it will include Pat Buchanan, a controversial right-wing figure, among its regular panelists. Also on the panel will be journalists Clarence Page and Eleanor Clift.
Writing on nbc.com last year, the network’s national correspondent Steve Kornacki described the similarities between Buchanan and Donald Trump and how the failed presidential candidate influenced the successful one now in the White House.
“He wanted a wall along the entire southern border and a pause on all immigration," Kornacki wrote. "He vowed to rip up trade deals and revive manufacturing. He hated political correctness and warned of the decline of Western culture. He railed against a ‘rigged’ system and fomented a populist uprising that terrified the Republican Party’s leaders. He was endorsed by David Duke. And he was denounced and labeled a racist — by Donald Trump. His name was Pat Buchanan.”
An Esquire profile of Buchanan in 2017 said, “It’s true that Trump found his own way, as early as 1987, to the America First platform he ran on almost thirty years later. But it was Buchanan who sounded, or brayed, the message we all now know by heart: anti-immigrant, anti-Europe, anti-Asia, anti-free-trade, anti more or less anything that inches America away from the splendors of the 1950s.”
Media Matters, a left-wing media watchdog platform, described Buchanan as “a white supremacist who has complained that the United States is ‘committing suicide’ because ‘Asian, African, and Latin American children’ are replacing whites; said that undocumented immigrants are conducting a ‘third world invasion’ of the country; defended Adolf Hitler as ‘an individual of great courage’ who didn’t want to go to war; and argued that homosexuality should be ‘contained, segregated, controlled, and stigmatized.’”
Buchanan, 80, goes all the way back to the days of Richard Nixon’s cynical move to the right on law and order in the 1968 election. He joined Nixon’s campaign team in 1966 working as a researcher and speech writer.
The original version of “The McLaughlin Group” premiered in 1982 and stayed in production until the death of host John McLaughlin in 2016.
It was briefly resurrected in 2018 on WJLA, the Washington station owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group headquartered in Hunt Valley.
In an email response to the Sun, MPT declined comment beyond a statement it issued to Media Matters, saying: “Public media provides a big tent for the expression of many points of view. The McLaughlin Group has been a long-time staple on public TV. It’s a program series viewers appreciate for its wide range of views and perspectives, as well as the lively debate on issues that takes place among its panelists.”
I cannot help thinking: Just what America needs right now, another platform for an incendiary voice from the right who predates Donald Trump on some of the president’s most controversial views. And he’s brought to you by public television.
The 30-minute program will air Fridays at 11:30 p.m. with a repeat Sundays at 11 a.m. on MPT-HD. It will premiere Sept. 6.