West News Wire: Mark Shields, a political commentator and columnist who appeared on “PBS NewsHour” for decades and shared his insight into American politics and wit, died on Saturday. He was 85 years old at the time.
Shields died of kidney failure at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, according to “PBS NewsHour” spokesman Nick Massella.
Shields has been a regular on the show since its inception in 1987, and he retired from his regular Friday night discussion segment in December 2020. According to the “PBS NewsHour,” he had worked with David Brooks since 2001 to provide analysis and commentary in their weekly Shields & Brooks segment, as well as during election specials and conventions, and before that with David Gergen and Paul Gigot. His time there spanned six presidential administrations.
Brooks tweeted his 2020 tribute to Shields in The New York Times, calling it “an attempt to capture one of the finest and beloved men” he had ever known.
“We’ve had thousands of disagreements over the years, but never a second of acrimony,” Brooks wrote in the piece. “Mark radiates a generosity of spirit that improves all who come within his light.”
Judy Woodruff, “PBS NewsHour” anchor and managing editor, tweeted that she was ”heartbroken” to share the news and noted Sheilds’ wife Anne was at his side at his death.
“Mark Shields had a magical combination of talents: an unsurpassed knowledge of politics and a passion, joy, and irrepressible humor that shone through in all his work,” Woodruff said in a statement. “He loved most politicians, but could spot a phony and was always bold to call out injustice. Along with Jim Lehrer and Robin MacNeil, he personified all that’s special in the PBS NewsHour.“
For decades, she said, Shields “wowed us with his encyclopedic knowledge of American politics, his sense of humor and mainly his big heart.”
The Weymouth, Massachusetts, native graduated from the University of Notre Dame and served in the U.S. Marine Corps, according to “PBS NewsHour.” He began his career in Washington as a legislative assistant and speechwriter for Wisconsin Sen. William Proxmire in 1965, according to “PBS NewsHour.” Three years later, Shields joined New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign and later worked on numerous campaigns. In 1979, he began writing a column at The Washington Post that was later distributed by Creators Syndicate.
Shields was a moderator and panelist on CNN’s “Capital Gang” from 1988 to 2005 and a regular panelist on “Inside Washington,” which aired on PBS and ABC, from 2005 until 2013. He also wrote “On the Campaign Trail,” an account of the 1984 presidential campaign.
Niece Carolyn Ryan, managing editor of The New York Times, tweeted: “So sad to tell you that my uncle, Mark Shields, died this morning. He was a special guy: full of heart and wisdom and love. Love of politics, sports, and so many people.”
Knowing and working with Shields was a privilege, “PBS NewsHour” Chief Correspondent Amna Nawaz tweeted.
“Truly one of a kind. Mark’s intellect, wit, and heart were unmatched,” she wrote. “I left every single conversation I ever had with him smarter and smiling.”