Remembering the Washington Political Reporters We’ve Lost in 2013
It’s been a sad summer for the realm of political reporting. In the past ten weeks four of the nation’s most respected Washington journalists have passed on. As the world of media rapidly changes from print to digital, and news junkies fear the demise of the long form thought piece in favor of the tweeted sound bite, I think it’s important to take a moment and remember the trailblazers of political journalism who have come before us. They have altered not only the industry but how the country views government, for the better.
Doug Bailey (October 5, 1933 – June 10, 2013) — Doug Bailey was a respected political consultant who went on to found Hotline, a daily digital politics brief. During his time as president of Bailey Deardourff and Associates, one of the nation’s first political consulting firms, Bailey advised such diverse power players as Gerald Ford, John Chafee, Richard Lugar, and Richard Snelling. In 1987 he started Hotline, which was decades before its time in the digital delivery of news. Original subscribers to Hotline received the publication via fax. Later the publication was sold to the National Journal. When it came to politics, Bailey was a strong believer in bipartisanship, and advocated for the formation of an independent centrist party as a way to unite the nation in the spirit of compromise. His ideals will be missed.
Helen Thomas (August 4, 1920 – July 20, 2013) — Helen Thomas worked in Washington as a journalist for her entire life, becoming a female pioneer in the profession. She worked first for the now gone Washington Daily News before joining the United Press where she covered women’s news, the Department of Justice, the Department of Health, and later Capitol Hill. In 1959 she was elected president of the Women’s Press Club and lead the charge in opening the National Press Club up for female journalists. She began covering the White House during the Kennedy presidency, where she distinguished herself for her blunt reporting and tough questioning. She served as the first female chief White House Correspondent for United Press. She later became the first female president of the White House Correspondent Club. Her illustrious career was filled with groundbreaking firsts, and she gained the mutual respect of some of the most powerful people in Washington during her decades of service. Journalism truly lost a force to be reckoned with with her passing.
John Palmer was a fixture on NBC, and played a crucial part of their political reporting team during his 40 year career. He served as a White House correspondent on and off for the network from 1979 until his retirement in 2002, as well as a seven year stint hosting the Today Show in the 1980’s. He was the recipient of two Emmy’s for his coverage on the famine in Africa and on America’s Space Program. He also won numerous awards for his reporting on the failed mission to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980. Cable news is a darker place without him.
Jack Germond (January 30, 1928 – August 14, 2013) — Jack Germond worked a political journalist and opinion writer for 50 years, as well as authoring a number of best-selling books covering presidential elections. He started working for the Washington Star in 1974, and when that paper folded he moved on to the Baltimore Sun as a syndicated columnist. He appeared on early episodes of Meet the Press and the Today Show, before spending 15 years as the liberal voice on The McLaughlin Group. He also appeared as a pundit on CNN and the PBS program Inside Washington. He was known throughout the journalistic and political worlds for his wide variety of friends and sources, and his larger than life persona when it came to enjoying food, drink, and socializing. With him, Washington lost a legend.
Published at In the Capital.