WASHINGTON -- Jack W. Germond, the portly, cantankerous columnist and pundit who covered 10 presidential elections and sparred with colleagues on TV's "The McLaughlin Group," has died. He was 85.
Germond died Wednesday morning. He had recently finished his first novel, "A Small Story for Page Three," about a reporter investigating political intrigue, being published Friday.
"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," his wife, Alice Germond, said in a note to his colleagues.
She said Germond "was fortunate to spend his life working at a job he would have done for free during some halcyon times in the newspaper business."
With Jules Witcover, Germond co-wrote five syndicated columns a week for nearly 25 years, most of that time spent at The (Baltimore) Sun. He was in many ways emblematic of his generation of Washington journalists: He was friendly with the politicians he covered, and he cultivated relationships with political insiders during late-night poker games and whiskey-fueled bull sessions.
"Before politics was fed into computers and moveable maps came out, Jack Germond had it all in his head," said Walter Mears, the former political writer for The Associated Press and a Germond friend and competitor.
"He was a walking encyclopedia on politics and politicians," Mears said. "He worked the telephones -- before they were cellphones -- and the opening usually was pretty much the same: What do you hear? His style of political reporting was an art form.