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Markos Kounalakis is a Greek-American journalist, author, and scholar. Kounalakis is the president and publisher emeritus of the Washington Monthly, a magazine founded by Charles Peters in 1969. Kounalakis co-anchored the nationally syndicated weekly political program, Washington Monthly on the Radio. He is currently a senior fellow at the Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace. He writes a regular foreign affairs column for The Sacramento Bee and McClatchy-Tribune News. His latest book, "Spin Wars & Spy Games: Global Media and Intelligence Gathering" , analyzes global news networks and how they perform diplomatic and intelligence gathering functions.
Kounalakis was born in San Francisco to refugee parents from Greece. His father, Antonios, was an underground guerrilla fighter against the Nazis on the island of Crete during World War II. He fought with Constantine Mitsotakis, who later became Prime Minister of Greece. Like his father, Kounalakis was a blue-collar construction worker who maintains his Class A heavy equipment truck drivers license.
Kounalakis is a political scientist specializing in international relations. His research focuses on the effects global media have on foreign policy. Using an interdisciplinary approach, Kounalakis utilizes theories on communications, neoclassical realism, soft power, and rising powers in his research. Kounalakis received a public education in the San Francisco Bay Area and earned his bachelor's degree in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley in 1978. He received his MSc in Journalism from Columbia University in 1988. Kounalakis earned a PhD in International Relations/Political Science at Central European University in 2016. In 1988-1989, Kounalakis was a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow in Europe, attending the Bundesakademie für öffentliche Verwaltung in Bonn, Germany in 1988 and the École Nationale d'Administration in Paris, France in 1989. In 1995-1996, Kounalakis was an International Journalism Graduate Fellow at the University of Southern California and El Colegio de México in Mexico City. As an international journalism graduate fellow, he also spent time in Guatemala (1995) and Cuba (1996). In the early 1980s, he attended the International Graduate School at Stockholm University, Sweden, where he studied International Relations and became a fluent Swedish speaker. Between 2003 and 2009, Kounalakis was a regular Hoover Institution Media Fellow and has been a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University since September 2013. Since 2010, he has been a senior research fellow at the Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University.
Kounalakis worked as a foreign correspondent for NBC Radio and Mutual News in the USSR, based in Moscow from 1991-1992. He previously reported for Newsweek on the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Bulgaria, and Albania. Newsweek also sent him to cover the early phase of the Yugoslav civil war. He went to Afghanistan and covered the "Holy War Without End" for The Los Angeles Times Magazine.
In 2002, The New York Times called him a "White Knight" for saving the venerable Washington Monthly magazine. Publisher Kounalakis and editor Paul Glastris have since rejuvenated the magazine, grown its readership, and increased its impact – making it a "progressive must-read" in Washington, D.C., according to James Carville. Its expose of former education secretary William Bennett's gambling problem brought early attention to the Kounalakis/Glastris team.
Kounalakis was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. He has served on the Board of Visitors at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; Board of Advisors at Georgetown College and the Wilson Council at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He was the Vice Chairman of the Board of Advisors at the Southeast Europe Project at WWICS; he was a trustee of the World Affairs Council of Northern California; and formerly served as Chairman of Internews Network 2002–2004; Vice Chairman of the California State World Trade Commission 2001–2003; Board of Trustees of the Western Policy Center 2001–2005. In June 2003, he chaired a multinational reconstruction conference in Athens, Greece where Iraq's media laws were drafted.
Marriage and children
He married Eleni Tsakopoulos in Istanbul in 2000. The couple has two sons, Neo and Eon. His wife served as the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary until 2013 and is currently running for lieutenant governor of California.
- Defying Gravity: The Making of Newton (1993)
- Beyond Spin: The Power of Strategic Corporate Journalism (with Drew Banks, 1999)
- Hope is a Tattered Flag: Voices of Reason and Change for the Post-Bush Era (June 2008)
- Reflections 1980-82: Markos Kounalakis (October 2012)
- Spin Wars & Spy Games: Global Media and Intelligence Gathering (July 2018)
- Washington Monthly on the Radio
- "Markos Kounalakis, Mr. Ambassador". San Francisco Chronicle. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- Carr, David (2002-04-22). "MEDIA; New Life for Washington Watchdog". New York Times.
- Green, Joshua (June 2003). "The Bookie of Virtue". Washington Monthly.
- "Georgetown Inaugurates Chair in Hellenic Studies". 2006-10-02.
- "Tsakopoulos family endows new professorship at Stanford". 2005-10-25.
- Dunteman, Dayna (April 2005). "Markos Kounalakis". Sacramento Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-08-29.
- "Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis". U.S. Department of State. 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- Garchik, Leah (2007-05-25). "[untitled column]". San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Mark Twain War Protest Poem Interpreted Visually and Posted on YouTube". NEO Magazine. September 2007.