Legendary political reporter and television pundit Jack Germond passed away Wednesday from complications of chronic respiratory failure. He was 85.
"Jack was the guy who looked like a political reporter straight out of central casting, meaning for people like me who didn't know any reporters, that's what we thought those guys looked like," said msnbc's Lawrence O'Donnell in the Rewrite Thursday.
A Boston native, Germond started his career as a journalist at the Rochester Times-Union, before moving to the Washington Star and finally the Baltimore Sun as a syndicated columnist. He made a number of appearances on The Today Show and Meet The Press, but is perhaps best known as a long-time commentator on The McLaughlin Group, "the original free-for-all political show that has been imitated over the last 30 years in may ways by many other political chat shows," as O'Donnell described it.
"Jack never fought his way into the debate on The McLaughlin Group the way most of the other panelists did," O'Donnell remembered. "He just sat there, knowing he wasn't getting paid by the word. And every second he sat there silently while everyone else was arguing, all I cared about was: 'What does Jack think?'"
Germond leaves behind a legacy of over 40 years of political reporting, including a handful of political books on presidential elections from 1980 to 1992, and a memoir entitled Fat Man in a Middle Seat: Forty Years of Covering Politics. Many of Germond's former colleagues attest to his enthusiasm about journalism.
“He was not simply drawn to journalism as a profession, like Hildy Johnson in ‘Front Page,’ ” political writer Timothy Crouse told The New York Times, “he was addicted to it as a way of life.”
In an email to friends, Germond's wife Alice wrote of Jack, "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 was 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."