Mark Shields, Genteel Political Analyst for ‘PBS NewsHour,’ CNN’s ‘Capital Gang,’ Dies at 85

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Mark Shields, the longtime Washington Post political columnist who was a fixture of “PBS NewsHour” and a co-host of CNN’s “Capital Gang,” died Saturday morning of kidney failure in Chevy Chase, Md. He was 85.

Shields’ death was confirmed through a message shared by “PBS NewsHour” anchor Judy Woodruff on Twitter. Woofruff praised her colleague “who for decades wowed us with his encyclopedic knowledge of American politics” as well as “his sense of humor and mainly his big heart,” she wrote.

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Shields was known on-air for his tact and wit in delivering incisive analysis and commentary about U.S. politics and policy battles in Washington. He predated the shouting-heads era of cable news that came in the mid-1990s with the advent of Fox News Channel and MSNBC.

On CNN’s “Capital Gang,” Shields and fellow host Robert Novak joined panelists and fellow columnists from the Beltway set such as the Wall Street Journal’s Al Hunt, Time’s Margaret Carlson and the National Review’s Kate O’Beirne. The conversations were lively but never reached the level of vitriol that has become common in cable news. “Capital Gang” went through several incarnations until it ended in 2005.

Shields’ signed off of his regular Friday night segment of “PBS NewsHour” in December 2020 after more than 30 years with the show. His tenure began during the 1988 presidential election when the broadcast was known as “The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour.”

Mark Shields, Judy Woodruff and David Brooks in the studio for “PBS NewsHour” - Credit: Courtesy of PBS NewsHour
Mark Shields, Judy Woodruff and David Brooks in the studio for “PBS NewsHour” - Credit: Courtesy of PBS NewsHour

Courtesy of PBS NewsHour

A native of Weymouth, Mass., Shields graduated from the University of Notre Dame. He served in the Marines before coming to Washington, D.C. Shields started out working in politics for Wisconsin Sen. William Proxmire. He also worked on Robert F. Kennedy’s ill-fated presidential campaign in 1968. Shields worked on three other presidential campaign efforts and he helped manage various political campaigns in 38 states over his 11 years as an operative.

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Shields began writing a column for the Washington Post in 1979.

Shields’ survivors include his wife of many years, Anne Hudson Shields; their daughter, Amy Shields Doyle; their son-in-law Christo Doyle; and grandchildren, Jack and Frances Doyle.

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