Thursday, September 12, 2013

Jack Germond, R.I.P.

A journalist whose work your appreciative Peasant
has long enjoyed, even though he was a liberal,
Jack Germond, passed away in August after a long
spell of poor health at the age of 85.

Germond was a reporter, columnist, and commentator
in print and on television, plying his trade for nearly
50 years, nearly half of those years with the Baltimore
Sun. He worked in the Sun's Washington bureau,
covering the White House and Congress.

"Jack was a truly dedicated reporter and had an old-
fashioned relationship with politicians. He liked them,
but that did not prevent him from being critical when
they did bad things and behaved badly. That was a
trademark of Jack's," said Jules Witcover, his writing
partner of many years.

Germond was the only child born to his engineer father
and homemaker mother in Boston, Massachusetts.
After a brief stint in the Army, he attended the Univer-
sity of Missouri where he earned degrees in journalism
and history, soon afterward becoming the sports editor
of the Jefferson City Post-Tribune. His next position was
as a columnist for the Monroe (MI) Evening Times.
Germond held these positions in the early 1950s.

From 1953 until 1973 Germond was a reporter for the
Rochester Times-Union, then became the Washington
Bureau Chief for Gannet Co. Newspapers, which owned
the Times-Union back then, holding this position from
1969 until 1973. He then joined the Washington Star
and was with that paper until it ceased operations in 1981.
Germond was political editor and later assistant managing
editor for the Star, where he met and started collaborating
with Jules Witcover.

When the Star ceased to shine, Germond and Witcover
were hired by the Baltimore Evening Sun. They co-wrote
a column for that paper until it too ceased operations and
the pair went over to its sister publication, the Sun, where
they continued their column. They came to specialize in
covering presidential campaigns, and became trusted and
admired for the thoroughness of their work, which entailed
giving much more print to their coverage than many of
their rivals at other papers around the country. The portly
Germond came to be affectionately referred to as the
Fat Man.

Germond was a regular member of the often rambunctious
gathering of journalists on the political talk show The
McLaughlin Group, hosted by former Nixon speechwriter
and former catholic priest John McLaughlin. The quirky,
unnerving McLaughlin and Germond were at odds both
in front of and behind the cameras, and Germond eventually
left the show. While there, however, Germond met and struck
up a friendship with the very conservative late pundit
Robert Novak; Germond proved that he could indeed get on
well with people from across the political divide, McLaughlin
aside. Your bemused Peasant has to say that, as a frequent
viewer of this TV show, the host certainly did come off as
a "mad hatter" with his antics, which included childish-
sounding play with panelist's names. McLaughlin called
The New Republic's Fred Barnes "Fred The Beetle Barnes"
many a time on the air! I would remark to myself "Is that
necessary?" in dumbfounded amazement.

Retiring in 2000, Germond had concluded a career that listed
among many accomplishments six books about politics and
covering politicians, successful solo and collaborative columns,
many political stories broken (that is, brought to the public's
attention ahead of rival reporters), countless TV appearances,
and widespread renown. What your admiring Peasant liked best
about jack Germond was the fact that he never let his politics
get in the way of reporting the truth about people or events; if
someone was a good actor Germond said so. If one was out
for himself at the expense of others Germond made that known.
The politicos that Germond was friendly with knew this about
him and rarely tested the Fat Man, for they knew that he was
a man of unshakable ethics and integrity. This is, sadly, a trait
that has become an increasingly rare commodity among today's
journalists, regardless of political tastes.

Jack Germond has left us. May it be that conscientious journalism
has not left us as well. Rest in peace, Mr. Germond. A job well
done, sir.


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