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PBS NewsHour commentator Mark Shields dies at age 85

Mark Shields speaks during a taping of NBC's <em>Meet the Press</em> on Feb. 17, 2008, in Washington, D.C. the longtime PBS NewsHour commentator has died at age 85.
Alex Wong
Getty Images for Meet the Press
Mark Shields speaks during a taping of NBC's Meet the Press on Feb. 17, 2008, in Washington, D.C. the longtime PBS NewsHour commentator has died at age 85.

Updated June 18, 2022 at 6:43 PM ET

Mark Shields, the longtime PBS News commentator known for his weekly political analysis, died Saturday morning at the age of 85, PBS NewsHour confirmed.

Shields died of kidney failure at his home in Chevy Chase, Md., NewsHour spokesman Nick Massella told NPR.

Before he retired in 2020, Shields provided thoughtful insights into the administrations of six U.S. presidents, on the Persian Gulf War, the Iran-Contra affair and 9/11. His tenure lasted for 33 years.

Shields was known for both his sense of humor and his expansive knowledge of American politics, Judy Woodruff, the anchor and managing editor of NewsHour said in a tweet announcing his death.

"I am heartbroken to share this..the @NewsHour's beloved long-time Friday night analyst Mark Shields, who for decades wowed us with his encyclopedic knowledge of American politics, his sense of humor and mainly his big heart, has passed away at 85, with his wife Anne at his side," Woodruff tweeted.

Woodruff also said in a statement: "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. 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."

The Wall Street Journal called Shields "the wittiest political analyst around" and The Washington Post described him as "a walking almanac of American politics."

"Mark radiates a generosity of spirit that improves all who come within his light," David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, wroteshortly after Shields retired. The two discussed politics together on NewsHour Friday evenings for nearly two decades.

Shields was a native of Weymouth, Mass., and graduated from the University of Notre Dame. After college, Shields went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps. Afterwards, he worked for several local and presidential races before embarking on his PBS career in 1988. Shields was also a columnist for several news outlets, including CNN and ABC.

He showed his famous sense of humor in a 2006 commentary for NPR's "This I Believe" series, writing: "I admire enormously the candidate able to face defeat with humor and grace. Nobody ever conceded defeat better than Dick Tuck who, upon losing a California state senate primary, said simply, 'The people have spoken ... the bastards.' "

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Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.