The cause of death was complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said Mr. Germond’s wife, Alice Travis Germond, a former secretary of the Democratic National Committee. She told friends in an e-mail that Mr. Germond had just completed writing his first novel, “A Small Story for Page 3,” about a reporter enmeshed in political intrigue.
As Washington bureau chief of one of the leading newspaper chains in the country, Gannett, and later as a columnist for the Baltimore Sun, he was a dominant figure in political journalism. He spent nearly 25 years sharing a byline in newspapers and books with journalist Jules Witcover.
Mr. Germond built a solid reputation for his aggressive pursuit of news, his skill as a storyteller, the high-level sources he cultivated in Washington and state capitals over 50 years and a vivid understanding of how the U.S. political system functioned for better and, often, for worse.
While reveling in the persona of an ink-stained wretch — down to the poker playing and whiskey drinking — Mr. Germond was among the first of his breed to make the transition to television. He cut an unlikely TV figure, with a pugnacious manner, bald head and generous stomach, but his knowledge was unquestioned.
The combination of his books, columns and appearances on such TV programs as “Today,” “Meet the Press” and “The McLaughlin Group” made him a top interpreter of American politics.