Major Garrett to leave Fox News; Update: Going to National Journal

Mediaite reports on a big change in the White House Press Corps.  Major Garrett, who has impressed all sides with his professionalism and hard work on the White House beat for Fox News, will leave the network next week.  Garrett will go back to the print world, but left his destination a mystery for now:

In making the announcement, Garrett said, “Slightly more than eight years ago, [FOX News Chairman & CEO] Roger Ailes, [former FOX News Executive Vice President] John Moody and [former FOX News Washington Managing Editor and current Senior Political Analyst] Brit Hume created a full-time reporting position for me in the Washington bureau. Our new Senior Vice President of News, Michael Clemente, has continued that support. Since August of 2002, the network and its top executives have given me every opportunity a journalist could hope for. I thank the network for giving me the chance to grow as a reporter and broadcaster.”

He continued, “Throughout my television career, I’ve known with certainty I would someday return to my roots in print journalism. That day has come. I will soon announce an exciting new phase of my career — one made possible in no small part by FOX News’ consistent support. It would take a lot – something near perfection – to lure me away from the best job I’ve ever had. Details to come.”

Garrett further remarked, “I will miss many dear FOX News journalists, colleagues and friends. I wish all of them success. I look forward to discussing my future work on FOX News – keeping in touch with an audience I’ve come to know and cherish. Before I leave FOX News, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every viewer who extended to me their generous good wishes, support and encouragement.”

Fox will move Wendell Goler and Mike Emanuel into a rotation for the White House beat.  Fox viewers will miss Garrett only slightly more than his colleagues in the briefing room, who showed their affection for him in a birthday celebration earlier this week.  And actually, it may be only Fox viewers who miss him; the announcement didn’t say that Garrett would leave the briefing room.  He may remain on the beat, but that would be curious indeed in terms of how he got “lured away” by “near perfection.”

Hopefully, the new job is as high profile or higher and has as much impact as Garrett has had on coverage of the Obama and Bush administrations.  Congratulations, Major.  We’ll be reading you wherever you land.

Update: It didn’t take long for National Journal to celebrate their newest addition:

Washington, D.C. (August 25, 2010) — National Journal Group announced today that award-winning political journalist Major Garrett is joining National Journal as a Congressional Correspondent, reporting and providing analysis across all of National Journal Group’s publications.

Garrett comes to National Journal from Fox News Channel, where he is currently the Chief White House Correspondent.  During his eight years at Fox News, Garrett also covered Congress, two presidential elections, the war in Iraq, and many other issues of national importance.  He will join Sue Davis, recently hired from the Wall Street Journal, to lead National Journal’s Congressional coverage.

“Major Garrett is the embodiment of the new team we’re building here at National Journal,” said Editor-in-Chief Ron Fournier.  “He is known across Washington as one of the hardest-working journalists in the business, a fierce competitor on his beat, and a good and decent man.  It is a rare combination, and one we’re incredibly lucky to be bringing into our newsroom.”

Before joining Fox News, Garrett was a White House correspondent for CNN, covering Presidents Bush and Clinton.  Prior to that he was a senior editor and congressional correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, where he reported on Congress and the impeachment of President Clinton. From 1990-1995, he was a congressional reporter for The Washington Times, and from 1995-1997, he was the newspaper’s deputy national editor. Earlier in his career, Garrett was a reporter for The Houston Post, Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Amarillo Globe-News.

“Throughout his professional career, Major Garrett has always exhibited an absolute commitment to the work of journalism – getting the story and explaining it,” said Ron Brownstein, Editorial Director of National Journal Group. “His success as a reporter – not his profile – is how he judges himself, and it’s what motivates him.  In this return to his roots, he’ll be working his contacts and sources all over town, providing the kind of in-depth reporting and analysis for our readers that only someone with his experience can.”

“The highest compliment in this business is: ‘I wish I had written that,'” said Garrett.  “I’ve said that more times than I can count about National Journal reporting and the work of Ron Fournier and Ron Brownstein. I am and always have been a print reporter at heart. Returning to my roots is a homecoming of great personal and professional importance. This publication and this new job represent the culmination of my highest ambitions – to work alongside great reporters and find new ways to report, analyze and explain American politics.  The word honor is sometimes hyperbole. Not now. I’m honored to join this team.”

In addition to his reporting work, Garrett is the author of three books, including The Enduring Revolution (2005), which was recently voted one of the best non-fiction political books of all time by readers of Chris Cillizza’s Washington Post “The Fix” blog.

Garrett joins National Journal Group as the result of a nationwide talent search that has been underway throughout the summer. In the last several weeks, National Journal Group has added several talented writers, editors, and analysts, including veteran magazine writer and editor Matt Cooper, political analyst Matthew Dowd, The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder, USA Today’s Aamer Madhani, the Wall Street Journal’s Yochi Dreazen, Sue Davis, and Fawn Johnson, Politico’s Josh Kraushaar, Coral Davenport, and Tim Alberta, the Tribune Washington Bureau’s Jim Tankersley, Campaigns and Elections’ Jeremy Jacobs, Modern Healthcare’s Matt Dobias, and more. Further announcements will be coming in the next days and weeks. National Journal Group, which includes premium publications such as National Journal, CongressDaily, Hotline, The Almanac of American Politics, and Global Security Newswire, is undergoing a transformation that will build upon its reputation for intelligence and depth, infusing it with currency and speed.

Congrats to NJ for their big score.