The Blog

Jack Germond, 1928-2013

9:56 AM, Aug 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Political reporter Jack Germond died this morning, his wife writes in an email to friends. Politico reports:

His wife, Alice Germond, secretary of the DNC, emailed friends this morning, with subject line “Jack's Gone”: “At a little before 4 a.m., Jack passed away.  He went peacefully and quickly after just completing this novel, a tale he had pondered while writing columns, campaign books, a memoir and covering our politics and politicians. He lived a marvelous, full and well loved life. I think he was a great reporter, I know he was a hearty eater and the good conversation as important as the food. And yes, he enjoyed extending an evening. He had a bold journalistic ethic, and that matters. He was fortunate to spend his life working at a job he would have done for free during some halcyon times in the newspaper business.

“Jack indeed played the horses, always studying the form and hoping for that elusive triple crown winner -- but there was no such thing as a bad day at the track. He welcomed the day sitting on our deck in WV watching the bald eagles who returned to soar over the Shenandoah and the blue birds nest. In the evening the sunset mirroring the day's end. To his many friends, he appreciated the great company, story, scoop, competition and laughter.  He fit his life and times so very well. I love him and it's been great.”

A few years back, Andrew Ferguson offered this review of Germond's memoir, Fat Man in a Middle Seat:

Everyone who reads this marvelous memoir -- and it deserves to have many, many readers -- will have a favorite anecdote among the countless tales that Jack Germond piles up, so I might as well begin this review with mine.

Germond is best known, of course, for his stint as the house curmudgeon on The McLaughlin Group. But as a print reporter he's been covering politics for more than forty years, the last twenty or so with his partner Jules Witcover. Their reporting brought them in frequent contact with George Wallace, who somehow acquired the idea that Witcover is Jewish. Witcover is Roman Catholic, but never mind. Whenever Witcover would drop in on the governor for an interview, Wallace would try to jolly up the alien with some small talk. "I saw old Dave Silverman the other day," Wallace would inevitably begin. What a coincidence! Silverman was a Jewish shopkeeper in downtown Montgomery. "Wallace," Germond writes, "seemed to think all Jews know one another." Over the years, Witcover gave up trying to set Wallace straight, and would simply send his best wishes to old Dave. ...

Jack Germond laments the change, not only in the quality of our pols but in the character of the journalists who cover them. Politicians get the reporters they deserve. Germond's generation of hacks, when covering a campaign, followed a rigorous schedule: a long day of reporting, a late afternoon and early evening spent filing the story, then a bloody, carnivorous dinner (napkin spread over the tie) followed by several hours in the hotel bar swapping lies and gossip with colleagues.

No longer. Germond says, generously and perhaps not accurately, that today's generation of political reporters is every bit as skilled as his own. "But their lifestyles are more disciplined. They tend to drink white wine or beer rather than Irish whiskey . . . and a lot of them eat salads from room service, believe it or not." Judging from my own, more limited experience, I do believe it, and the transformation has long been in train. The first time I covered the New Hampshire primary, in 1988, I headed for the legendary bar at the Wayfarer Hotel in Manchester, a neophyte hoping to knock back a few stiff ones with the big dogs after a tough day trailing (if I remember correctly) the electrifying candidacy of Paul Simon. Germond was in the bar, and one or two others, but every one else was in the hotel gym, queuing up for the StairMaster.

Whole thing here.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers