July 19, 2024

Howard Fineman, a titan of the Washington journalism establishment, died of pancreatic cancer Tuesday, and shipped back to Odessa.

“I understood why my grandparents … had gotten out, had left that part of the world,” he recounted on theColgate podcast “13” in 2023. “Because they couldn’t be free to be who they were. … I came back thankfully to the United States, realizing just how lucky I was that my family had come to America.”

After graduating and completing a master’s program at Columbia, Fineman moved to Kentucky to work at The Courier-Journal in Louisville. He wrote about environmental issues and turned his attention to coal and strip mining. He attended night classes and earned his law degree at the University of Louisville before moving to the paper’s Washington, D.C., bureau in 1977.

Three years later, he moved to Newsweek, where he stayed for three decades.

Fineman recalled the fierce competition between Newsweek and Time magazine after becoming the magazine’s chief political correspondent during a time in the industry when the mastheads slugged it out on the newsstand.

“It was a tremendous amount of fun, and some of my best friends are actually from Time magazine,” he recounted on the Colgate podcast. “I had carte blanche to travel the country reporting on national politics starting in 1983.”

Fineman worked at HuffPost for seven years.

Fineman worked at HuffPost for seven years. Damon Dahlen/HuffPost

In 1984, Fineman married his wife, Amy Lee Nathan, in Washington, D.C., while she was a law student studying for the bar and Fineman was covering his first presidential campaign for Newsweek.

“Four decades later, we know how lucky we still are to love each other so completely,” hewrote during their anniversary last year.

Howard Fineman and his wife, Amy Nathan, in 2015 in Washington, DC.

Howard Fineman and his wife, Amy Nathan, in 2015 in Washington, DC. Mark Sagliocco via Getty Images

He went on to report in 49 of the country’s 50 states, speaking with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Fineman covered nine presidential campaigns, interviewed every president and major presidential candidate from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama, and would go on to feature in regular appearances on MSNBC, including “Hardball” with Chris Matthews.

He has appeared on “The Daily Show,” “Face the Nation,” “Charlie Rose” and “Larry King Live,” among many other programs.

Arianna Huffington wooed Fineman away from his role at Newsweek in 2010 to become HuffPost’s political editor.

“It really wasn’t a difficult decision at all once I really began to think about it because this is where the action is,” hesaid at the time. “The chance to dive headlong into the future is one that I don’t think anyone could pass up.”

Fineman “joined HuffPost when we had ten journalists in Washington, one edition and 20 million unique visitors,” Huffington said in a statement to HuffPost.

“His brilliant mentorship, insightful voice and fearless embrace of the new as our Global Editorial Director helped HuffPost scale to 17 international editions and over 200 million unique visitors — and, importantly, deepen the collegial and supportive culture that he was so proud of,” Huffington said of Fineman’s HuffPost tenure. “American journalism is better because of Howard Fineman, and I will miss him dearly.”

Fineman speaks to his colleagues at The Huffington Post.

Fineman speaks to his colleagues at The Huffington Post. Damon Dahlen/HuffPost

Fineman left HuffPost in 2017 to take his commentary to NBC News, a departure he described as a bittersweet homecoming after his stint as one of the first print reporters to file for MSNBC.com. He described his time at HuffPost, which began when the site was just a fledgling new media upstart, as one of the most impactful in his long career.

“I have been in and worked in a lot of newsrooms, and there is NO PLACE where people care about and cheer for each other the way HuffPosters do,” he wrote in a note to staffers. “That spirit abides not only in DC and NY but around the world.” 

Fineman is survived by his wife, Amy, his children Meredith and Nick and his daughter-in-law Summer.