Tom Braden, host of the daily "Braden and Buchanan" discussion program on WRC-AM (980), last night walked off his own call-in show.

Braden jumped ship during a heated discussion of the Thomas Andy Barefoot death penalty case with Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz and John McLaughlin, sitting in for usual cohost Pat Buchanan. McLaughlin is host of WRC-TV's "McLaughlin and Company."

"I can tell you what happened," said Braden from his home last night, his feathers still a bit ruffled. "I had my guest on the line and I was trying to follow a line of inquiry. Now I have a girl in the booth in front of me, holding up a card saying, 'Reintroduce the guest.'

"Now, McLaughlin is a very intelligent former priest, in my opinion, but somebody never taught him, maybe it was his mother and father, maybe the Catholic church, maybe Nixon, but somebody never taught him you don't make a regular argument into a filibuster. He's sitting there with a bunch of stuff in front of him, from Richard Viguerie or somebody. And he takes over. Now, I don't mind that at all. But I tried to reintroduce the guest, I was ordered to reintroduce the guest, and he just overrides it. He doesn't pay any attention; he just talks louder. He just keeps on going!

"I said fine, f--- it, let him take it over. If he wants to fulminate, let him fulminate. I just won't fulminate back. I walked off and was sitting in the little anteroom, and the programmer is yelling, 'get back on the air' and I couldn't do it. You know, sometimes your brain says 'get back in there, you're supposed to do your job,' and your gut tells you you just can't do it.

"So I drove home. Meanwhile, my wife is listening to the program, and she thought I had a heart attack."

McLaughlin could not be reached for comment.

Braden says he will return to the air tonight--with Pat Buchanan.