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Howard Fineman, veteran political journalist and former MSNBC analyst, dies at 75

By 37ci3 Jun12,2024

Howard Fineman, a veteran political reporter who spent three decades covering the corridors of power in Washington for Newsweek before becoming an analyst for MSNBC and other outlets, has died after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Fineman, 75, died Monday at his home in Washington.

Howard Fineman smiles
Howard Fineman in 2019.Paul Morighi/WireImage

Amy Nathan, “I am deeply saddened to share my brilliant and extraordinary husband who passed away last night surrounded by the people he loved most, his family” posted on her husband’s page account At X (formerly Twitter). “He couldn’t be more admired. The world was a better place because he lived there and wrote about it.”

Born in Pittsburgh, PA on November 17, 1948, Fineman joined Newsweek in 1980 and quickly established a reputation as one of the nation’s most astute observers of the Beltway scene.

Pat Robertson with Ted Koppel and Howard Fineman
Fineman with TV evangelist Pat Robertson and ABC’s Ted Koppel at Robertson’s Virginia Beach headquarters after the interview.Wally McNamee/Corbis via Getty Images

Fineman covered presidents and political players from his vantage point on what was then one of the most-read newsweeklies in the United States, giving his readers a behind-the-scenes look at the decisions that affect their lives on Capitol Hill.

Tom Harkin and Howard David Fineman
Fineman then with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

Fineman left Newsweek in 2010 to become senior politics editor and later global editorial director for The Huffington Post (now HuffPost).

Additionally, Fineman has been an MSNBC analyst and frequent guest on “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” and “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

Fineman also became a familiar face to several generations of television viewers who tuned in to other political news shows such as PBS’s “Washington Week” and CNN’s “Capital Gang Sunday.”

    John Kerry, D-Mass., and Howard Fineman speak
Then-Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Fineman attend a book launch in Washington in 2011. Paul Morighi/WireImage

A consummate professional, Fineman was known for his wit and encyclopedic knowledge of politics, having covered the administrations of seven different presidents during his career.

Tributes to Fineman began pouring in as news of his death spread.

MSNBC’s Chris Jansing got emotional Wednesday as he recalled being a rookie political reporter when he first met Fineman.

“I admired him” Jansing said, his voice cracks. “I admire him immensely as a person and a journalist.”

“We send our love and condolences to the entire family. It’s a great loss and we love you all,” said Jansing, who noted that Fineman’s son, Nick, was an executive producer on the show.

Fineman, who grew up Jewish in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, had his bar mitzvah at the Tree of Life Synagogue, where a gunman entered the sanctuary in 2018 and killed 11 people — perhaps The most heinous anti-Semitic attack in US history.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, Fineman began a newspaper career covering coal mining and local politics for the Louisville Courier-Journal.

By 1978, Fineman was in the newspaper’s Washington Bureau, and two years later he signed a contract with Newsweek.

Protesters are speaking out
Fineman, left, and a group of Colgate University students and faculty during a campus protest in 1970.Bettmann / Bettmann Archive via Getty Images

Fineman married Amy Nathantechnology lawyer, in 1981. In addition to her son, Fineman is survived by her daughter, Meredith Fineman, and her sister, Beth Fineman Schroeter. The New York Times.

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