Skip to main content

Longtime political journalist Jack Germond, ex-CNN analyst, dies

By CNN Staff
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Wed August 14, 2013
Click through to see<a href='http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/world/obituaries-2013'> people who passed away</a> in 2013. Click through to see people who passed away in 2013.
HIDE CAPTION
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Germond's wife says he died peacefully Wednesday
  • The legendary reporter covered politics for more than 50 years
  • Among his books was "Fat Man Fed Up"

Washington (CNN) -- Jack Germond, the cantankerous political journalist whose brand of shoe-leather reporting made him a legend of the form, died on Wednesday.

He was 85.

Germond died "peacefully and quickly," having just completed a novel, his wife, Alice, wrote in a note to friends.

"He lived a marvelous, full and well loved life," she wrote, adding: "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."

Germond was a fixture on the national political scene in print and broadcast, including for CNN, as a political analyst beginning in the 1990s.

A longtime newspaperman, the Boston native began covering national politics with the 1960 presidential election that saw John F. Kennedy enter the White House.

He spent 20 years with Gannett Newspapers, the final four as Washington bureau chief.

He came to embody the persona of a grizzled, ink-stained campaign reporter, and was one of the "Boys on the Bus" featured in Timothy Crouse's 1973 book detailing life on the presidential campaign trail.

In interviews, Germond fondly recalled covering politicians and candidates from the ground - including getting to know the subjects he was following over dinner and drinks.

"In the old days, journalists got to know politicians better than they do now," he told People Magazine in 2001, describing a bygone era of occasionally meeting candidates over steak dinners, vodka martinis and late night poker games.

"Jack's appetite was legendary -- for news, for stories, for food, and for washing it down," CNN Chief National Correspondent John King remembered on Wednesday.

Germond came to embrace the hard-charging reputation, as well as the girth that lifestyle produced, in memoirs with the titles "Fat Man in a Middle Seat: Forty Years of Covering Politics" and "Fat Man Fed Up: How American Politics Went Bad."

"I think he was a great reporter. I know he was a hearty eater, and the good conversation as important as the food," his wife wrote in her note. "And yes, he enjoyed extending an evening. He had a bold journalistic ethic, and that matters."

He worked for eight years with The Washington Star and, after the Star folded in 1981, moved on to the Washington bureau of The Baltimore Sun.

With Jules Witcover, he wrote the syndicated "Politics Today" column for more than two decades, and he was a regular on the political panel TV show "The McLaughlin Group" in the 1980s and 1990s.

"For Jack Germond, covering politics was a calling, a passion, a profession and a full-time pastime," said Ken Bode, a former national political correspondent for NBC News and a former senior correspondent at CNN.

"On the road, he was the best company -- a couple of pops, a steak and an evening of swapping stories. Jack had an extra political gene that enabled him to recognize the rogues of the political world, but he had just as much fun covering the rascals as he did the serious people," he said.

But as technology assumed a larger role for journalists - and campaigns began to restrict access to candidates - Germond grew less and less enthusiastic about the national political scene.

"Journalism was a great way to make a living," he told People. "It was fun. Nowadays, reporters drink white wine and eat salads. They go to their rooms, transcribe their notes and go to the gym. We never did that."

King recalled that Germond had a "visceral disdain for cell phones and Blackberries and reporters who spent more time with their 'toys' than wandering the back rooms of events talking and listening."

Yet Germond was also known for encouraging new journalists as they joined the pack of political reporters following candidates.

He gave CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger her first job in journalism at The Washington Star, where he was managing editor.

"On the campaign trail, he always took newbie reporters under his wing, and traveling with him on campaigns was a joyous way to learn American politics," Borger said. "He loved his job and elections and reporting, and it showed in every column he wrote and every TV appearance he made."

King also described a man willing to encourage a new generation of campaign reporters, describing an evening at the bar of the Sheraton Wayfarer in New Hampshire while covering the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

"I was 24, my first presidential campaign, and had spent the night in awe listening to Jack and (fellow reporter) Walter Mears tell old stories of Kennedy and McGovern and Reagan," King said. "'You're going to do OK kid,' he said as he shuffled off to his room -- the inference being if you can close the bar with that crew you had made the right career choice."

Candy Crowley, now CNN's chief political correspondent, said she first saw Germond "in a temporary White House press room in a hotel somewhere."

"I called a friend and said, 'I can't believe it. I'm in the same room as Jack Germond,'" Crowley said. "He was already a legend. I was new to everything and it seemed to me that Jack knew everything."

"I saw him many times after that in press rooms or in Iowa or New Hampshire," she continued. "So many people describe him as a curmudgeon, a tough journalist with no patience for BS, particularly from politicians. He was all that, but the Jack I knew had a twinkle in his eye and was consistently sweet and kind to me. I was in awe. I still am."

People we've lost in 2013

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:30 PM EST, Sun January 5, 2014
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
updated 7:55 PM EST, Wed January 1, 2014
Actor James Avery, who played the beloved Uncle Phil on the hit 1990s sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," has died. He was 67.
updated 2:59 PM EST, Wed January 1, 2014
Dr. John W.V. Cordice, the surgeon who operated on Dr. Martin Luther King after he was stabbed in Harlem in 1958, died in Iowa. Cordice was 95.
updated 8:28 PM EST, Wed January 1, 2014
Joseph Ruskin died of natural causes in a Santa Monica, California, hospital. He was 89.
updated 4:19 PM EST, Wed January 1, 2014
Jeffrey Ian Pollack, who directed the popular 1990s films "Booty Call" and "Above the Rim" and produced "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" has died. He was 54.
updated 6:00 PM EST, Mon December 23, 2013
Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian gun designer whose AK-47 rifle became the weapon of choice for many national armies and guerrillas around the world, died.
updated 6:53 AM EST, Sun December 22, 2013
Ned Vizzini, who shot to fame at a young age for his teenage novels focusing on youth depression and anxieties, committed suicide at age 32.
updated 4:37 PM EST, Thu December 19, 2013
Al Goldstein, the foul-mouthed publisher of Screw magazine and pornography pioneer died in New York. He was 77.
updated 3:53 PM EST, Tue December 31, 2013
Actor Daniel Escobar, who played a teacher in "Lizzie McGuire," died from complications of diabetes in Los Angeles. He was 49.
updated 7:41 PM EST, Wed December 18, 2013
"Great Train Robber" Ronnie Biggs -- one of the most notorious British criminals of the 20th century -- has died, his publisher told CNN. He was 84.
updated 8:17 PM EST, Mon December 16, 2013
Ray Price, the Nashville star whose trademark "shuffle" beat became a country music staple, has died at age 87, his agent said.
updated 9:23 PM EST, Mon December 16, 2013
Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine died, her longtime friend Noel Beutel said. She was 96.
updated 7:40 AM EST, Mon December 16, 2013
Actor Peter O'Toole died peacefully in a hospital at 81 years old.
updated 7:38 AM EST, Mon December 16, 2013
Tom Laughlin, the actor who wrote and starred in the "Billy Jack" films of the 1970s, died at age 82.
updated 7:56 PM EST, Wed December 11, 2013
Jazz guitarist Jim Hall, who played with the jazz greats of the 20th century and influenced the younger ones, has died, his family said. He was 83.
updated 8:46 AM EST, Tue December 10, 2013
Actress Eleanor Parker, nominated for three Oscars and known for her "Sound of Music" role, died Monday at 91, her family said.
updated 11:40 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
Freedom fighter, statesman, moral compass and South Africa's symbol of the struggle against racial oppression.
updated 9:18 PM EST, Wed December 4, 2013
Bill Beckwith, who co-hosted HGTV home-improvement show "Curb Appeal," has died. He was 38.
updated 9:58 AM EST, Mon December 2, 2013
Actor Paul Walker, who shot to fame as star of the high-octane street racing franchise "Fast & Furious," died in a car crash in Southern California. He was 40.
updated 5:39 PM EST, Sat November 30, 2013
Paul F. Crouch, co-founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, died at age 79.
updated 6:42 PM EST, Fri November 29, 2013
Jane Kean, who played diverse roles during a long career but was best known as Trixie on the TV revival of "The Honeymooners," has died. She was 90.
updated 7:44 AM EST, Mon November 25, 2013
Singer Wayne Mills, whose "outlaw country" songs center on honky-tonk life, died in a Nashville bar shooting.
ADVERTISEMENT