RIP Jack Germond, Reporter and Democrat

A very nice remembrance of someone who seemed like a very nice man (and doubtlessly was).


The chair that Jack Germond sat in as one of the original panelists on The McLaughlin Group still reflects his presence, even though it’s been more than 16 years since he last appeared on the show. The chair hasn’t been replaced; it’s still the same worn blue chair that leans to one side just as the portly Germond did. And while many others have occupied the seat, it will always be Jack’s for those of us lucky enough to know him and to appear with him on television.

An old-fashioned shoe-leather reporter, Germond knew every state party chairman in the country. They were his drinking buddies, the network of human connections that made him a great reporter long before the Internet and social media came along to change how journalists interacted with sources in cyberspace instead of at the local bar. Jack died today at age 85 at his home in West Virginia, where he’d retired in order to be closer to the Charles Town racetrack.

Jack’s second wife, Alice Germond, a longtime officer of the Democratic National Committee, announced his death Wednesday morning in an email to friends. “I think he was a great reporter,” she wrote. “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 didn’t necessarily identify as a Democrat. He was too cynical about politics, and he could spot phonies whichever party they were in. The last time I spoke with him was last summer, before the political conventions, when Mitt Romney looked like a strong contender to win the election. Not so, said Jack, summing up the contest in just a few words. Obama will win, he said. “People don’t like Romney, and they don’t vote for people they don’t like.”

I’m sorry to raise this point at Germond’s passing, but she (Eleanor Clift) started it. Don’t tell me he was a Democrat, married to a Democratic operative, and say it meant nothing. And don’t raise his simplistic dismissal of Mitt Romney as an example of his impartiality. Germond was a professional reporter and a lovable curmudgeon. He will be missed. What he was not was nonpartisan. No crime in that; he joined the vast majority of the Washington press corps. Which is why they excuse it, if they notice it at all.

PS: Find me a member of the Washington press corps not sleeping with a Democratic operative.

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