Jack Germond: ‘I’m not saying another word until they bring me a martini’

Legendary political reporter Jack Germond died Wednesday. He was 85.

Germond's "Fat Man in a Middle Seat" was the first book I ever read about American politics. I can no longer remember what led me to pick it up. But I loved it for all the reasons Andrew Ferguson lists here. It's a wonderful romp through the madness of mid-century American politics, and the first book to ever make me seriously think about political reporting as an actual job that people do.

But I never got to meet Germond in person. A friend of mine did, however, and he sends along this wonderful story:

I had the pleasure of hosting Jack Germond when I was an undergrad and had arranged for him and Fred Barnes to spend a day on campus. Both were most gracious, but Jack was hilarious to boot. After a packed day and an evening lecture, we took him for a late steak. He sat down and said "you guys are great, but I'm not saying another word until they bring me a martini."

The service was slow that night, and we must have waited 15 minutes for the martini to arrive, during which interval not a syllable passed Jack's lips. After the first sip, he was gregarious as ever and regaled us with great insider stories. We were in awe, even before we picked him up for the airport at 5:00 am the next day and found him hard at work at the next day's chain smoking in the brisk pre-dawn air when we arrived.

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