Legendary Political Columnist, Former PBS NewsHour Contributor Mark Shields Dies at 85

By A.J. Katz 

Syndicated columnist, political analyst and legendary PBS NewsHour contributor Mark Shields died Saturday of kidney failure at the age of 85.

Shields is best known to TV news audiences for his 33-year run as a contributor on the PBS NewsHour, co-hosting the newscast’s Friday night discussion segment from 1987-2020. He co-hosted the segment with New York Times columnist David Brooks from 2001 until his retirement.

The Friday night segment, which has showcased liberal and conservative political perspectives since its inception in 1987, previously included David Gergen, a CNN senior political analyst and former advisor to four U.S. Presidents—and the Wall Street Journal’s Paul Gigot, in addition to Shields and Brooks. MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart replaced Shields as co-host of the Friday discussion segment in January of last year.


Regular moderators for the weekly segment have included late NewsHour anchor and co-founder Jim Lehrer—and PBS NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff.

The aforementioned Woodruff said Shields was well known for his “encyclopedic knowledge of American politics, his sense of humor and mainly his big heart.”

Shields’ tenure at the PBS NewsHour table overlapped with six American presidents and countless political headlines, including the Persian Gulf War, the Iran-Contra affair, 9/11 and the start of the War on Terror.

In addition to his weekly role on NewsHour, from 1988 to 2005, Shields was a moderator and panelist on CNN’s Capital Gang. He was also a regular panelist on Inside Washington, the long-running weekly public affairs show that aired on PBS and ABC, from 2005 – 2013.