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House of Cards Wiki

Tom Hammerschmidt is the former Editor in Chief of The Washington Herald.


The Washington Herald editor-in-chief

As the chief editor at The Washington Herald, Hammerschmidt presided over a newsroom that included the White House correspondent Janine Skorsky, political editor Lucas Goodwin, and upstart metro reporter Zoe Barnes.

Hammerschmidt faced a major challenge to his authority during early 2013 as a result of young Barnes gaining a measure of journalistic prominence and news media fame after penning several articles based on sensitive info leaked to her by the scheming House Majority Whip Frank Underwood. This was a part of the senior congressman's personal retribution agenda against the newly elected President Garrett Walker and presidential Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez for reneging on their promise of giving him the Secretary of State post in the event of Walker's 2012 presidential election victory.

Stuck on the metropolitan D.C. beat and profoundly unhappy about having to file banal human interest pieces, Barnes thus finally got the big break she was after via a story on the upcoming education bill that was at the very top of new President Garrett Walker's legislative agenda. Based on the actual Congressman Donald Blythe-developed education bill draft, a 300-page document that was leaked to her by Underwood, Barnes' piece represented a major scoop for the Herald. After Hammerschmidt got the paper's legal department involved and assigned a more senior reporter Janine Skorsky to provide additional input, the story went to print immediately. Hammerschmidt put it on the front page of the Tuesday, 22 January 2013 issue, the day after the President Garrett Walker's inauguration, causing huge problems for the administration on its first day in office.

Within days, Barnes dropped another bombshell based on additional information Underwood supplied her with - this time it was the unsigned 1978 editorial from the Williams College Register, a college paper edited at the time by the current nominee for the Secretary of State post Michael Kern. The editorial is highly critical of Israel, and though Kern's authorship wasn't at all established, even being connected to it was enough to cause major political damage to Kern. For Barnes on the other hand, her Herald piece about the 35-year-old college paper editorial caused another sensation and further established her journalistic credibility around D.C. so much so that national U.S. electronic media began giving her spots on their programmes.

Watching her media blitz that included several CNN spots, Hammerschmidt wasn't at all happy with the tone and content of Barnes' television appearances. After letting her know as much they got into an argument that resulted in Hammerschmidt forbidding the reporter from appearing on television for one month. He eventually fired Barnes after calling her a "cunt". After declaring that he saw no need to adapt the Washington Herald to changing times, Margaret Tilden forced Tom to resign. However, even though he was forced to resign, he left on very cordial terms with his boss.


Hammerschmidt returned to visit the Herald in late 2013 to catch up with Lucas Goodwin after the death of Goodwin's girlfriend Zoe Barnes. Former chief editor showed concern for Lucas' psychological state after hearing his claim that Frank Underwood murdered both Peter Russo and Zoe, noting that he wouldn't be able to print a word of it if he was still his boss.

In July 2014, while detained in federal prison on cyber-terrorism charges and facing 35 years in jail with no parole, Goodwin got offered a plea deal by the feds (with FBI agent Nathan Green watching and listening intently in the back room) - 10-year sentence with possibility of parole after 7 in return for pleading guilty to fraud and breaking into a data center. However, rather than accepting what even his lawyer considered a 'great deal', Goodwin requested a meeting with Hammerschmidt, threatening to turn down the plea deal immediately, thus forcing the case to a trial, if he's not allowed a meeting with his friend and former chief editor. Visiting Lucas in prison, Hammerschmidt got asked by Lucas to take his claims and gathered data that Underwood killed Zoe, investigate further, and write an article about it. Hammerschmidt agreed, warning his friend about intending to treat this as any other investigative story, which meant writing only what the facts could bear. To that end he began sifting through old press clippings while trying to get in touch with Janine Skorsky over the phone, leaving numerous messages on her answering machine. He also contacted VP Underwood's press office.

Unbeknownst to Hammerschmidt, Doug Stamper had already been on high alert, fully aware, through agent Green, of Hammerschmidt's investigative efforts and attempts at reaching Skorsky. Stamper first considered squashing Hammerschmidt's upcoming story through Green and FBI for 'security reasons', but gave up that avenue after being informed by Green that the story can't be killed on those grounds once it's been shared with the press due to First Amendment issues. Green, who himself wanted the story killed because of being convinced it would render his valuable asset Gavin Orsay unusable, let Stamper know about also being deeply disappointed about not being able to prevent it from coming out. At his wits end, apologetic Stamper informed Underwood about not being able to control Hammerschmidt as well as having no way to stop the story to which somewhat rattled yet still confident VP Underwood (simultaneously embroiled in a bitter showdown with Raymond Tusk over the price of samarium that resulted in a nationwide energy crises) responded by deciding, despite Stamper's concerns, that the way to deal with this is to accept Hammerschmidt's request for an interview, adding: "We need to invite full frontal attack and then hold the line. We can't avoid the battle, but we can choose the battlefield. Set up a meeting at the White House! We'll intimidate him with formality".

Summer 2014 meeting with VP Underwood

Arriving to the meeting at the White House, Hammerschmidt brought an outline of his piece in progress with specific questions for Underwood written on the back. After having a look at the questions, VP Underwood, in his performance mode, requested to go off-the-record for a second, telling Hammerschmidt that the questions are ludicrous, adding indignantly: "I'll not be answering questions about my friend Peter Russo whose suicide left two small children with no father".

At this point the Vice President's phone rang and he, enacting a conversation with his office secretary, made it seem Secretary of State Catherine Durant wants him over an urgent matter. Returning to the conversation with Hammerschmidt, Underwood went into a calm and rehearsed monologue: "Now, if you decide to print any of this, assuming you find an outlet that's willing to, then yes, it might cause me a headache for a day, but I will not engage", before concluding with a suggestion that Goodwin is mentally unstable. Somewhat annoyed Hammerschmidt countered with an observation that he's interviewed many mentally ill people and that Goodwin isn't one of them before smug Underwood came back with a snide suggestion that Hammerschmidt should then re-read his own article to which now clearly agitated Hammerschmidt responded by stating Goodwin to be distressed and highlighting a difference between that and mental illness, all of which was met with more dismissive smugness by Underwood as the conversation suddenly devolved into a bit of a verbal sword-fight.

Taking the gloves off even further Hammerschmidt suddenly stated: "Rachel Posner exists. I haven't been able to find her, but I've proven she's not a fantasy. The same goes for Roy Kapeniak. These people are born, they have social security numbers, past addresses....", which Underwood interrupted, dismissively mocking it all as a grand conspiracy theory. Hammerschmidt then went for the jugular, asking Underwood point-blank if he killed Peter Russo and Zoe Barnes, which Underwood answered by suggesting Hammerschmidt is embarrassing himself followed by ending the tense meeting politely along with a suggestion that the way its written, the article will end up hurting Goodwin more than helping him and showing Hammerschmidt to the door.

As soon as Hammerschmidt left Underwood's office, Stamper came rushing in to see how it went only to find agitated Underwood issuing him a stern order to make this go away now that he (Underwood) has done his part, before returning to his more pressing problems such as preventing Tusk from restoring his relationship with President Walker in the midst of the energy crisis.

When Lucas was caught and put in prison for cyber-terrorism, Hammerschmidt did his best to put together a credible article to help his friend's and former colleague's case. Unfortunately, all of Lucas's claims were based on conjecture and he therefore, couldn't help him.


Tom is a no-nonsense, tough, and skilled editor who is dedicated to the Washington Herald. He has little interest in any journalism that isn't based on hard investigation or is used for self-promotion. This puts him at odds with Zoe Barnes, who goes on television to promote herself and is more interested in social media. After Tom's resignation following his outburst at Zoe, he begins working on a novel that he even admits is crap.

Behind the Scenes

Tom Hammerschmidt was portrayed by Boris McGiver in Seasons 1, 2, 4 and 5 of House of Cards.  


Season 1
"Chapter 1" "Chapter 2" "Chapter 3" "Chapter 4" "Chapter 5"
"Chapter 6" "Chapter 7" "Chapter 8" "Chapter 9" "Chapter 10"
"Chapter 11" "Chapter 12" "Chapter 13"
Season 2
"Chapter 14" "Chapter 15" "Chapter 16" "Chapter 17" "Chapter 18"
"Chapter 19" "Chapter 20" "Chapter 21" "Chapter 22" "Chapter 23"
"Chapter 24" "Chapter 25" "Chapter 26"
Season 4
"Chapter 40" "Chapter 41" "Chapter 42" "Chapter 43" "Chapter 44"
"Chapter 45" "Chapter 46" "Chapter 47" "Chapter 48" "Chapter 49"
"Chapter 50" "Chapter 51" "Chapter 52"
Season 5
"Chapter 53" "Chapter 54" "Chapter 55" "Chapter 56" "Chapter 57"
"Chapter 58" "Chapter 59" "Chapter 60" "Chapter 61" "Chapter 62"
"Chapter 63" "Chapter 64" "Chapter 65"
Season 6
"Chapter 66" "Chapter 67" "Chapter 68" "Chapter 69" "Chapter 70"
"Chapter 71" "Chapter 72" "Chapter 73"