Morton Matt Kondracke
April 28, 1939
|Occupation||Contributing Writer - Roll Call|
(m. 1967; her death 2004)
Marguerite Sallee (m. 2006)
Morton Matt Kondracke (; born April 28, 1939) is an American political commentator and journalist. He became well known due to a long stint as a panelist on The McLaughlin Group. Kondracke worked for several major publications, serving for twenty years as executive editor and columnist for the non-partisan Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. He was also co-host of The Beltway Boys of Fox News Channel and was a regular nightly contributor to Special Report with Brit Hume and Special Report with Bret Baier.
Kondracke was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Genevieve Marta (née Abrams) and Matthew Kondracke. His father was of Polish descent, while his maternal grandfather was from a Jewish family. Kondracke graduated from Joliet Township High School in 1956, and from Dartmouth College in 1960. While at Dartmouth, he majored in English and was president of The Dartmouth newspaper. Kondracke was a board member of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine and served as his class secretary. Later he received the Daniel Webster Award for Public Service from the Dartmouth Club of Washington.
After college, Kondracke joined the U.S. Army and served in Washington, DC in the Counter Intelligence Corps while pursuing graduate work at Georgetown University and working part-time for the Washington Star newspaper. After quitting the Army in 1963, Kondracke joined the staff of the Chicago Sun-Times, transferring to the paper's Washington bureau in 1968, eventually becoming White House correspondent in 1974. In that role, his name was on the master list of Nixon political opponents. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1973-74.
Kondracke left the Sun-Times in 1977 to become executive editor of the news magazine The New Republic. He worked there until 1985, when he left to become Washington bureau chief for Newsweek magazine. In the meantime, his increased profile led to commentary positions at National Public Radio, This Week with David Brinkley and The Wall Street Journal.
In 1982, he joined The McLaughlin Group as one of the original panelists, a position he held for 16 years. Moderator John McLaughlin consistently teased him by pronouncing his name "more-TAHN", emphasizing the second syllable, and when guest panelist Mortimer Zuckerman appeared with Kondracke on the show as he did several times, McLaughlin would claim to be "MORT-ified".
In 1991, Kondracke began serving as executive editor of Roll Call, retiring in 2011. During this time he wrote a twice-weekly column in Roll Call ("Pennsylvania Avenue") that was syndicated by Newspaper Enterprise Association, part of United Media. After stepping down as executive editor he remained with Roll Call as contributing editor.
In October 1998, Kondracke began co-hosting his own television series, The Beltway Boys, with Fred Barnes, on the Fox News Channel. He was also a regular nightly contributor to Special Report with Brit Hume on the same network. In 2010, he became the main interviewer for the Jack Kemp Foundation's Oral History Project, performing more than 100 interviews with teammates, colleagues, staff members and family of the late Representative, presidential and vice-presidential candidate and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Kondracke held the Jack Kemp Chair in Political Economy in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress from September 2011 to June 2012, where he researched and wrote about "the late Jack Kemp's congressional career, his leadership role during the Reagan Era, his presidential campaign and his influence on the Republican Party and the nation".
In the 1996 science fiction film Independence Day, Kondracke appears at the beginning of the movie on The McLaughlin Group, speaking about the ineffectual leadership of President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and saying, "Leadership as a pilot in the Gulf War has no relationship to political leadership. It's a different animal." Kondracke also appeared in the 1993 film Dave.
In 1967, Kondracke married Millicent Martinez, a half Jewish, half Mexican liberal activist. They had two daughters, movie-maker Alexandra and medical doctor Andrea. Kondracke struggled with alcoholism during the 1980s, and he credits Millicent for helping him end his addiction by 1987. In 1988, Millicent was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Her long struggle with the disease caused Kondracke to become an advocate for Parkinson's disease research and for increased government spending on medical research. Millicent Kondracke grew increasingly incapacitated by the disease and died on July 22, 2004.
Kondracke detailed his family's struggle with Parkinson's in a 2001 book called Saving Milly: Love, Politics, and Parkinson's Disease (ISBN 0-345-45197-X). The book was the basis of a CBS television movie called Saving Milly, starring Madeleine Stowe and Bruce Greenwood, which was broadcast on March 13, 2005.
On May 6, 2006, Kondracke married Marguerite Sallee, CEO of America's Promise. He is a trustee of Dartmouth College, a board member of the Parkinson's Action Network and a member of the Founders Council of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.