Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Life Full of Stories: Meet Jack Germond

Writers seek to leave a mark on the world. They work to draft the pages and words that will invade the human psyche and make people feel. Or make them laugh.Or make them think. It is a difficult journey, and many writers never quite reach that mark. Still, others meet and surpass it, and even when they are gone, their words linger. Some of the classical greats come to mind. Shakespeare. London. Orwell. Twain. And now sadly, another great writer, Jack Germond, must be added to that list. A man who lived a life full of stories. So many, that even as he was saying goodbye to this world, he was kind enough to leave us with one to savor.

A story to make us feel. To make us laugh. To make us think.

Jack Germond passed away on August 14, 2013, the same day as the e-book release of his book. The veritable, Alice Travis Germond, Jack's loving wife, has graciously agreed to embark on a blog tour on Jack's behalf. She is always happy to hear from readers and fans. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in our comments.

A Small Story for Page 3
By political pundit Jack Germond

Harry Fletcher can’t for the life of him figure out what exactly the ‘nugget’ of information his colleague, Eddie Concannon, uncovered prior to his death is. Picking his way along the threads of information, Harry soon finds himself at odds with government officials and his own newspaper seems to be involved in the collusion. Join Harry as he deciphers the clues and enjoy a journey into the world of investigative reporting set against a colorful back drop of characters and locations.

Find Jack's book online:
MuseItUp Publishing Store    

An excerpt: 

"Oddly enough, ladies and gentlemen of the TV audience," Harry announced in his persona as Larry Largelungs of Action Central News, "the condemned man was smiling and singing as he approached the gallows."

The mood changed when he arrived at Wear's office to find the executive editor and the managing editor waiting and somberly reading printouts of the story.

"This thing has to be settled today," Wear said. "It's gone on long enough, it's tied us in knots, and we need to find a solution."

"I thought we had one," Harry said. "The story shows he has been sailing under false colors as a corruption fighter by trying to protect one of the targets of the investigation with whom he had a connection, perhaps lucrative, not previously disclosed."

"We're not the ones who have to be convinced," Mike reminded him.

When they walked into Marcotte's office, it was obvious he was not prepared to be persuaded. The publisher remained behind his huge mahogany desk and with a brusque gesture he seated the others at the small conference table.

"I've read the story you people seem to think should run on Page One as soon as possible," he said, "I think it’s still libelous horseshit, and I intend to spike it, this time for good. You still have no hard evidence that Tyler Bannister resisted Phase Two because of some personal concern. But Tyler denies it flat-out and there's no quote from him to corroborate it."Harry was trying to contain his fury. "The only quote from him in reply was “go fuck yourself.” Do you want to use that?"

"Don't be flippant, Fletcher, this is a serious question."

"We all understand that, Dave," Wear said, stepping in quickly. "If you want a clearer denial in more decorous terms, we can do that."

"A denial isn't going to change the fact that we are doing serious damage to Tyler Bannister's reputation and potentially his political career," Marcotte said, his voice rising. "I don't intend to be a party to that."

"That was never our intention," Wear said. "We've gone where the story has taken us. The truth is that this episode raises serious questions about Bannister's candidacy."

"It shows him interceding in behalf of a friend and former business associate in an official investigation," Harry said with some heat. "That's a part of the truth about him that we know but our readers do not."

"Don't give me that truth and readers crap, Fletcher," the publisher said. "I remember you calling him a trimmer way back there. You had it in for him from the start. So did Concannon."

"This story quotes Tom Lawton saying Bannister called him with a warning about being on Carvaggio's list of targets and it quotes Rudy Myers as confirming that Bannister ordered Lawton's name stricken from that list once he agreed to retire from the bench."

"I know what the story says but, as I told you earlier, Fletcher," Marcotte said, "it is the publisher, not the reporter, who decides what appears in the News and I have made the decision on this one." After an interminable twenty seconds of silence, he continued, "I think we're through here, gentlemen. Thanks for coming in." When the elevator dropped them at the third floor, Wear beckoned them into his office and closed the door on Meg. "I don't know what we do now," he said.

"What you and Mike do," Harry said, "is keep faith with the good people here who depend on you to let them put out a good newspaper and hope for change. What I do, is clean a few things out of my desk and walk out of the building. I don't have any choice now."

"What are you going to do about the story," Mike asked.

"I haven't thought it through, Mike, but I'm not going to give it to the Trib or some television station. I don't know if the story is mine to use elsewhere or what. It would take a lot of time and effort for anyone else to duplicate it."

Wear had a different concern. "What are you going to say when the word gets out that you've left the building?" he asked.

"I could just tell the truth—that I have left the News after almost thirty years because of a decision by the publisher to spike a story I wrote. Period." He laughed. "I'll leave it to Amy Whiting to fill in the blanks."

At Wear's office door, he turned to his two old friends. "Look, this isn't the end of the world. Let's all have dinner later in the week, some place public for all to see. Meanwhile, I'll keep you posted."

About the Author 
Jack Germond (January 30, 1928 – August 14, 2013) was a retired newspaper man, columnist and TV pundit. But like a Thoroughbred racehorse, a reporter never actually retires—he just writes about other things. The author brings his vast knowledge and understanding of the press and the business of getting the information to public to bear in his breakout novel, A Small Story for Page 3.

Mr. Germond was nationally known as a bemused liberal and was a regular on The McLaughlin Group as well as appearing on other public affairs TV programs — CNN, Meet The Press and The Today Show among others. He covered ten presidential elections, and with Jules Witcover wrote a book covering each presidential election from 1980 to 1992. Timothy Crouse made Germond a prominent figure in “Boys on the Bus” his acclaimed book on the 1972 presidential election. Mr. Germond has previously published two non-fiction books, his memoir “Fat Man in A Middle Seat” (Random House 2002) and “Fat Man Fed Up” (Random House 2005) a scride on the decline of politics in the United States. Along with Jules Witcover he wrote a syndicated column that ran in 140 papers five days a week from 1977 to 2001. 2000.

Chris Farley once spoofed Germond on Saturday Night Live. Germond was known for his no nonsense approach to reporting and his love of good food, good liquor and good friends. He instituted The Germond Rule which two generations of political reporters have adhered to. The rule simply stated that when a group of reporters dined together the tab would be split evenly, no matter who ate or drank more. This caused his many friends to eat and drink defensively when covering stories and enjoying good company.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving for those guests in the US. Jack obviously loved food and made a great turkey on the grill, it had a delicious smoky flavor, not overwhelming, just right. Paired with the usual trimmings, esp. my fabulous (if I do say so myself) pecan pie, it was a time of indulgence indeed. So I hope your readers will indulge as well, in a good holiday read, "A Small Story for Page 3" or give it as a gift. And thank you Leona for the wonderful blog. I look forward to comments and questions. Alice

  2. Thank you, Alice, it's my pleasure to host you today. Because a few family members have other places to visit today, we are having a big breakfast instead of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. (Turkey tomorrow). My granddaughter is making bread pudding especially for me. And boy do I love a good pecan pie.

    I agree Jack's book will make a wonderful gift. I give it five stars and a big thumbs up for action and intrigue. I know my readers will enjoy it as much as I did.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving America! And Happy Shopping tomorrow. Mmmm Pecan Pie- yummy! Don't forget to put Jack's novel on your gift list! It's a great read to curl up in front of the fire with. Hot chocolate, or hot toddy and a cozy blanket. Bliss

  4. Off to feast with friends and family. Thank you Leona and Nancy and all for hosting Jack and me these past days, and for your good wishes and promoting Jack's book. Enjoy the rest of the day.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving, Leona and Alice. Lovely to read this excerpt here. The storyline has me intrigued, and I'm looking forward to reading!

    1. Thanks,Helena, I had a very good day with my family. I'm glad you stopped by.

  6. Happy Thanksgiving from a Canadian who is now craving turkey. ;) Great post, Leona and Alice. :)

    1. Kim, if you hurry, you can make it here by the time the turkey is ready tomorrow. lol
      Thank you for stopping by.

  7. Thanks to Leona and Alice for sharing Jack's stories with us. The overview of A Small Story for Page 3 was mysterious and suspenseful and intrigued me enough to buy it. The other story you told, the immensely interesting life story of Jack himself was just as interesting. It comes as no surprise that he had embarked on a new adventure right before his death, sounds like a man who lived life to the fullest. I'm so glad Alice is sharing his book so more people will know about it, and at the same time, they will learn more about the man who created it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    1. Hi Von, Just returned from Thanksgiving dinner, am full and happy and pleased to read your comments. Jack was interesting. He lived a very full life and was curious about many things, including himself, so you are absolutely right, this was a new adventure for him and he ended up being challenged by it and fulfilled by the process.

      And not only did he love the news business and writing, but also knew most of the birds and awaited the bluebirds nesting a mere 20 feet from our deck and the return of the bald eagles over the Shenandoah River where we live. And, of course, much more.

      He died of a life well and completely lived, and that means the next pages we get to fill ourselves.

  8. Thank you, Von. I wholeheartedly agree with your comments concerning both Jack's book and his life. I know you'll enjoy the book. I'm glad you stopped by.

  9. I'm a big fan of Jack Germond's journalism; his campaign books with his partner Jules Witcover are genuine classics.
    I've read A Small Story for Page 3 and enjoyed it; the book almost seems to me like a valentine to the world of political reporting, the world Mr. Germond knew and loved so well. One of the book's great strengths is how it makes the existence of a journalist come alive. Mr. Germond fills the book with little, authentic details that make the environment he captures seem quite real.
    Had he planned to write a novel for a while? I noticed some of his biographical notes from the Daily Beast from a few years back mention he was working on a novel- was it this one or did he also work on others? Any chance they would be released as well? Did he plan to write other novels about these characters? Was the relationship between Harry and his wife at all autobiographical? What sorts of books did Mr. Germond like to read?
    I never had the pleasure to meet him but I felt genuinely grieved by his passing; I can only imagine how it must have affected you and the others who loved him. I hope you are well and that you enjoyed your Thanksgiving.

  10. I'm a big fan of Jack's too -- but then I married him! And I agree, A Small Story is, in many ways, a valentine to the reporting life, the issues and questions that come up, life on the road, etc. Those details often came from Jack's experiences, real or as he wished them to be. There is a whole generation of reporters with whom Jack shared a magic time in journalism, before the screaming 24 hour cable news cycle and before twitter, which leaves no room for nuance. There was more time to get and digest the story, and hopefully to get it right.

    This is the one and only novel, sadly. The one he had been thinking about for quite some time and finally had the chance and courage to do. As the plot developed and the ending came he (and I hope his readers) wondered what Harry might do. He wanted to see if folks cared before he embarked on the next chapters. I guess we'll have to dream our own dreams for Harry -- or maybe someone will write a sequel.

    The relationship between Harry and his wife is both autobiographical and not. I do have a polka dotted dress, I am not a professor nor did I have an affair with a younger man. Jack included that as another character dimension of Harry growing older and the insecurities that can be imagined -- or are real -- and perhaps impact his struggle with who he is in the newsroom.

    Jack like reading mysteries, also Richard Russo novels, the Remains of the Day, some biographies, Laura Hildebrand, Doris Kearns Goodwin. He was quite eclectic in his reading habits, but always the morning newspapers.

    Thank you for caring so much and for your interested questions. Are you a reporter by any chance? Regardless, I appreciate that you took the time to both read and write, and I hope you feasted as well. And yes, I miss him tremendously, we made each other complete and now I am not, but I will be again, we promised each other that, and what a joy our life together was indeed.

  11. Mrs. Germond- No, I am not a reporter- though I aspired to be one in my younger days. Somewhere along the line my life took a horribly wrong turn and I ended up as a lawyer. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions- I felt guilty about asking so many but I admire Mr. Germond's work so much it took quite a bit of self control not to ask even more!
    One of the things I like most about his work is how he casually drops in little bits of insight that seem increasingly wise the more you stop and think about them. Early in this novel, for instance, he writes that Harry "liked politicians as a group....He liked the fact you always knew what they were after- which was not always the case with people in other walks of life." That's marvelous!
    Along the same lines when I re read his memoir recently one sentence jumped out at me that I'd overlooked before. "Experiencing the death of a child," he wrote, "Doesn't make you tough; it's just something you are obliged to go through." I have a seriously ill daughter and I can assure you he is correct. I really love how great Mr. Germond was in cutting through false sentiment and nonsense to report the report the actual unvarnished truth of a matter.
    I hope that someday some wise editor will go through the archives of Mr. Germond's columns and compiles them into a series of books; it would be a first rate political history of the last decades of the 20th century.
    If anyone is still reading this long comment, I also hope they buy the novel; besides offering an engaging story with interesting character it also gives lay readers like myself a better understanding (and appreciation!) of the hard work Mr. Germond and his colleagues did over the years to provide us with information about those who govern us.
    (and to apologize/ clarify- I certainly didn't mean to suggest that you'd had an affair! It just seemed that Harry was based on Mr. Germond and Harry had such a loving/ supportive relationship with his wife that I wondered if some of that was based on your own relationship. Sorry if I offended!)
    Thanks so much for sharing Mr. Germond with us all these years!- Kevin

    1. Dear Kevin,

      You are so right about Jack, and about the book. No artifice, no phony sentiment, though there are always aches to get thru. He was wise, wonderful and just plain fun to be around. And, I wasn't the least offended, rather flattered in fact by your questions, and I believe and so often Jack showed me in many ways that we shared a loving supportive and generally fine relationship. And Kevin, no reason to despair about the lawyer business, I've known some decent ones -- though I doubt it's as much fun as being a reporter...

      And I hope some wise editor reads your comments! Thanks again for writing.

  12. Replies
    1. Thanks, Anna, you won't regret it. Glad you stopped by.


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